Notes Womens Open qualifying undergoing changes

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa ' With two of the LPGA Tours marquee names missing from the field for the U.S. Womens Open, the USGA announced a change in its qualifying process for the 2010 event and explained how Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis missed out.
The USGA said Wednesday that it is moving from a two-stage qualifying process to a single stage.
Mike Davis, the USGAs senior director of rules and competition, said the change will help ensure the qualifying procedure is fair and balanced in terms of which players should and shouldnt have to play to qualify for the championship.
Currently, between 68 and 75 players are exempt into the field, and the USGA periodically reviews its exemption rules.
We do that because we really want a fair balance between what players are good enough that they shouldnt have to play their way in through qualifying and then we want to keep that balance with all of our championships having a certain number that are out there that you can qualify for, he said.
As long as youve got the handicap or the game to file an entry, youve got that dream.
The move to a single qualifying stage will be more efficient for the players and officials and help the USGA get qualifying sites, Davis said.
Davis prefaced his remarks by citing the absence of Wie and Gulbis, who failed to qualify under any of 10 criteria or receive a special exemption.
While the two have only one LPGA title combined, both are fan favorites and two of the most recognizable faces in womens golf. Wie ranks 12th in earnings in her rookie season with more than $435,000 in 11 events, and Gulbis is 33rd with more than $225,000.
Both tried and failed to qualify this year.
Davis said there was never any serious consideration given to giving Wie a special exemption.
The USGA changed its exemption policy for this years championship:
  • The low 15 scores and ties in the 2008 Womens Open earned a spot. Previously, the low 20 and ties clinched a spot the following year.
  • The top five money winners on the Japan, European and Korean womens tours were exempt. Thats up from three each.
  • The top 50 money winners on the LPGA Tour from the previous season gained entrance, up from 40.
  • The top 10 on the LPGA Tour money list as of the cutoff date before sectional qualifying automatically got in, down from the top 35. Davis said the reduction in spots was a result of only 10 LPGA events being played before the Womens Open.
    The USGA also is looking at the world rankings as a form of exemption into the Womens Open, and has been doing so for a number of years, Davis said.
    In mens play, the top 50 in the world rankings get into the U.S. Open.
    FULL CIRCLE: Inbee Park is looking forward to playing the Womens Open as the defending champion ' even though shes struggling this season.
    The youngest player to win the Open at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days, Park says Saucon Valley Country Club is playing long. And thats just fine with her, because shes driving the ball 15 yards farther than last year, when she outlasted the field at Interlachen Country Club for her first pro victory.
    I think it definitely favors the long hitters; the course is playing fairly long, even without any rain, she said.
    The 2002 U.S. Girls Junior champion has had a disappointing 2009, missing the cut in four of 13 LPGA events. Her best finish was a tie for 14th at the LPGA Championship last month.
    But, the South Korean says her game is rounding into shape, and she likes her chances this week.
    I really feel like my game is coming back since last month, she said. Its coming back, and Ive been really preparing myself to play in this event.
    This is the event Ive been waiting for all year.
    STREAKING: Former Womens Open champion Laura Davies received a special exemption into the 2009 championship, keeping her streak of participating in the national championship alive.
    Davies won the 1987 Womens Open, beating Ayako Okamoto and JoAnne Carner in an 18-hole playoff for her first professional victory. She has played in every Open since 1986.
    The 20-time LPGA Tour winners last victory came in 2001, at the Wegmans Rochester International. She has struggled on tour this year, making the cut in five of 10 tournaments, with her best finish a tie for 33rd at Phoenix in March.
    Davies has been inconsistent at the Womens Open, too. She has missed the cut in eight of the last 12 championships and last played the weekend in 2007, when she tied for 32nd. She does have eight top-15 finishes.
    Davies is in the first group off the first tee at 7 a.m. in Thursdays opening round.
    RETURN TRIP: The Womens Open is the sixth USGA championship held at Saucon Valley Country Club. The Old Course hosted the 1951 U.S. Amateur, won by Billy Maxwell; the 1983 U.S. Junior Amateur, won by Tim Straub; the 1987 Senior Amateur, won by John Richardson; and two U.S. Senior Opens. Larry Laoretti prevailed in 1992 and Hale Irwin was the winner in 2000.
    RECORD ENTRIES: The USGA received a record 1,278 entries for the event, topping the previous mark of 1,251 in 2007.
    The total number of entries topped 1,000 for the sixth straight year.
    The 156-player field includes 28 amateurs and players from 22 countries.
    Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

    Masters victory

    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

    Man of the people

    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

    Departure from TaylorMade

    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

    Victory at Valderrama

    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.