Park Wins Womens Open Creamer Crumbles - COPIED

By Associated PressJune 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- Two weeks away from her 20th birthday, Inbee Park became the youngest winner of the U.S. Womens Open on Sunday by closing with a 2-under 71 as everyone around her faded away at Interlachen.
 
Park didnt make a bogey over the final 10 holes, pulling away with three clutch putts early on the back nine and building a four-shot lead going to the final hole. She finished with a tap-in birdie, and a few of her fellow South Koreans doused her with beer.
 
The victory came 10 years after Park took up the game, inspired by watching Se Ri Pak win the Womens Open at Blackwolf Run to become the youngest champion at age 20.
 
Its really an honor and very special for me that I won the event 10 years after I start playing, Park said. Everything happened so fast. Its scary. I really tried to stay calm, but it was so exciting, I couldnt do it. This is my day.
 
Park finished at 9-under 283 and earned $585,000 from the richest purse in womens golf. Her four-shot victory over Helen Alfredsson of Sweden, who shot 75, was the largest in the Womens Open since Karrie Webb won by eight shots at Pine Needles in 2001.
 
No one imagined the only drama on the back nine would come from Annika Sorenstam, who was never in contention competing in her final Womens Open before retirement at the end of the season.
 
Her final shot was a 6-iron from 199 yards that tumbled into the cup for eagle.
 
Leaving with another great memory, thats for sure, Sorenstam said after closing with a 78 to finish 12 shots behind in a tie for 24th. Maybe not the one I had in mind, but Ill take it.
 
Such highlights were rare for everyone else.
 
Stacy Lewis, trying to become the first player to win a major in her professional debut, took double bogey from 80 yards away on the par-5 second hole and struggled all afternoon with her lag putting. She staggered home to a 79 and tied for third at 4-under 288 with Angela Park (73) and In-Kyung Kim (75).
 
I finished third at the U.S. Open, my first pro event, Lewis said. Its kind of hard to be upset.
 
An even greater collapse came from Paula Creamer, 21, who said her experience from six LPGA Tour victories would be a big advantage. She then shot 41 on the front nine, including two double bogeys, and wound up with a 78 to tie for sixth.
 
Creamers final round scoring average in the U.S. Womens Open is 75.2.
 
Its probably the most disappointed Ive been in a very long time, she said.
 
Park was the only player to break par all four days at Interlachen, a course that showed its strength in the final round with 20 mph wind that made it tough to keep on the right side of the hole.
 
The lowest score Sunday belonged to 15-year-old Jessica Korda, the daughter of 98 Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda, who caddied for her. She shot a 69 and tied for 19th.
 
Park became the third player in the last six years to make the U.S. Womens Open her first LPGA Tour victory, and it was reminiscent of Birdie Kims victory three years ago at Cherry Hills, minus the dramatic bunker shot for birdie on the 72nd hole.
 
There were so many possibilities for great story lines going into the final round'Lewis and her remarkable recovery from back surgery that almost ended her career before she got to college; Creamer, looking poised to finally get a major to go with her marketing campaign; Alfredsson, who blew a six-shot lead at the Womens Open in 1994, now with a chance for redemption at 43.
 
Instead, it was Park who stole the show by simply playing the best golf.
 
She was tied for the lead with Lewis after a bogey on the 234-yard eighth hole, falling to 7 under, then escaped with a nifty par on the diabolical ninth hole after her approach rolled off the front of the green.
 
In the group behind her, Lewis three-putted from about 60 feet on the eighth, then went long of the ninth and did well to make bogey. Equipped with a two-shot lead, Park poured it on.
 
She holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole to expand her lead to three shots, holed an 8-foot putt to save par from the bunker on the par-3 12th, then chipped to 6 feet and made birdie on the par-5 13th to reach 9 under, giving her a four-shot lead with five holes left.
 
Even under such pressure, she was steady to the very end.
 
Park continued international dominance of the LPGA majors, as Americans have won only six of the last 31.
 
Lorena Ochoa of Mexico, who had finished no worse than third in the last four majors and won two of them, never got on track at Interlachen and closed with a 74 to tie for 31st.
 
The loudest cheer of the week at Interlachen was saved for Sorenstam, and it was more than ceremonial.
 
Sorenstam is retiring at the end of the season, and no major has defined her career more than the Womens Open, which she has won three times. But she was headed for an 80 in her final round after driving into the rough on the par-5 18th and having to chip out.
 
Then came her grand finale. Her 6-iron bounded onto the green and dropped in for an eagle and a 78.
 
I didnt want to shoot 80 or above, she said. And to hole a shot from 200 yards, thats kind of the last thing you think about. But obviously, Ill take it.
 
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”