Pettersen leads during Day 2 at U.S. Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2012, 1:40 am

KOHLER, Wis. – Even as she climbed into the lead in the second round of the U.S. Women's Open on Friday, Suzann Pettersen took some time to admire Michelle Wie's big move into contention.

Pettersen, the Norwegian star ranked sixth in the world, shot a 4-under 68 at Blackwolf Run on Friday and moved to 5 under for the tournament. But Wie was even better on the day, carding a 6-under 66 to move to 4 under and put herself in position to break out of a season-long slump.

Wie was tied with Cristie Kerr, the 2007 Open winner, one stroke off the lead.

Pettersen was playing in the group directly behind Wie, giving her a pretty good view of what turned out to be an impressive display of accurate approach shots and made putts.

''She was fist-pumping, every putt she looked at,'' Pettersen said.

Wie said she doesn't spend much time thinking about the attention she received as a high-profile child prodigy in the early 2000s, or whether some fans had written her off since then.

''I don't know if anyone gave up on me or not,'' Wie said. ''I'm sure some did and some didn't. But I never gave up on myself, and today was a good reminder to myself that I can do (it) and I still have it.''

Kerr, who was tied for the first-round lead at 3 under with Lizette Salas and Brittany Lincicome, had a 71.

''I always draw on that experience, of course, but it's hard to predict what's an advantage and what's not an advantage,'' Kerr said of her previous Open win. ''You just don't know.''

Sandra Gal, Inbee Park and Vicky Hurst shot 70 to reach 3 under.

Salas, a 22-year-old recent Southern California graduate, had a 73 to drop to 2 under. Mika Miyazato also was 2 under after a 71.

Lincicome had a miserable day, shooting an 80 on Friday to fall to 5 over.

''I did nothing right today,'' Lincicome said. ''I couldn't drive the ball. I couldn't do anything right. I couldn't putt.''

Seven-teen-year-old Lexi Thompson shot a 73 to top the group at 1 under.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng was 2 over aftter a 72r.

Second-ranked Stacy Lewis recovered from a first-round 77 to shoot a 69 on Friday, putting her 2 over. Third-ranked Ai Miyazato, the winner last week in Arkansas, was even par after a 74.

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu shot a 71 and was 1 over.

Se Ri Pak, the Open winner at Blackwolf Run in 1998, also was 1 over after a 73.

Seeing Wie's name near the top of the leaderboard will ring a bell with casual golf fans, even if they haven't heard from her in a while.

Wie was 12 years old when she qualified for an LPGA event in 2002 - making her at the time the youngest player ever to do so. She went on to compete in a handful of men's tournaments, but never turned her early stardom into consistent success. She has two career LPGA Tour victories.

Now she's 22 years old, a recent Stanford graduate - and, at least before Friday, struggling on the course.

Wie has missed six of eight cut times this season, although she says she has been feeling better about her game.

''The last couple of weeks it started to feel good,'' Wie said. ''Things were coming. My scores weren't showing up as well. But it's a work in progress. Still a long way to go.''

And Wie knows she's a long way from a potential victory Sunday, but is excited to have something to shoot for beyond simply making the cut.

''The fact that you're in contention to have a chance to win the U.S. Open is a big deal,'' Wie said. ''I'm so grateful I have that chance right now. I'm really looking forward to seeing the crowds tomorrow and experiencing it all again.''

Pettersen said Wie should be given some space to find her game at her own pace.

''I think you should give her a break,'' Pettersen said. ''She just graduated, four years in college. That's pretty impressive to do that on the sideline of trying to compete out here. So now it's obviously a little different world for her. Now it's all about golf, and she has to kind of find her schedule, how to kind of work it out the best way for her.''

Pettersen, meanwhile, believes her own game is in good shape.

''My game is very solid,'' Pettersen said. ''My ball striking is good. My short game is good. And my putting has been really good so far.''

Her day got off to a hectic start when she overslept and had to rush to make her tee time, skipping breakfast.

''For me breakfast is kind of my most important meal,'' Pettersen said. ''I didn't really have time. I thought it was more important to get stretched and loosened up. Even though it's hot. It's fine. Sometimes that's a good thing. You don't have time to think about stuff.''

The intense heat and humidity players and fans dealt with in Thursday's first round eased only slightly on Friday. The final two days of the tournament are expected to be more pleasant.

''Hopefully we're done with the two hot days, and they're all calling for a cooler weekend,'' Pettersen said. ''Which I'm all for. It's been two really hot days.''

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Match Play security tightens after Austin bombings

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:06 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – A fourth bombing this month in Austin injured two men Sunday night and authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

The bombings have led to what appears to be stepped-up security at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

“I was out here [Sunday]; typically that's the most relaxed day. But they had security officials on every corner of the clubhouse and on the exterior, as well,” said Dylan Frittelli, who lives in Austin and is playing the Match Play for the first time this week. “It was pretty tough to get through all the protocols. I'm sure they'll have stuff in place.”

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The PGA Tour told The Associated Press on Monday that it doesn't comment on the specifics of its security measures, but that the safety of players and fans is its top priority. The circuit is also coordinating closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of players and fans.

Despite the bombings, which have killed two people and injured two others, the Tour has not yet reached out to players to warn of any potential threat or advise the field about increased security.

“It’s strange,” Paul Casey said. “Maybe they are going to, but they haven’t.”

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Rosaforte Report: Faxon helps 'free' McIlroy's mind and stroke

By Tim RosaforteMarch 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball, it was the way Rory McIlroy rolled it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that was the story of the week and the power surge he needed going into the Masters.

Just nine days earlier, a despondent McIlroy missed the cut at the Valspar Championship, averaging 29 putts per round in his 36 holes at Innisbrook Resort. At Bay Hill, McIlroy needed only 100 putts to win for the first time in the United States since the 2016 Tour Championship.

The difference maker was a conversation McIlroy had with putting savant Brad Faxon at The Bears Club in Jupiter, Fl., on Monday of API week. What started with a “chat,” as McIlroy described it, ended with a resurrection of Rory’s putting stroke and set him free again, with a triumphant smile on his face, headed to this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Augusta National in two weeks.

The meeting with Faxon made for a semi-awkward moment for McIlroy, considering he had been working with highly-regarded putting coach Phil Kenyon since missing the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship. From “pathetic” at Baltusrol, McIlroy became maker of all, upon the Kenyon union, and winner of the BMW Championship, Tour Championship and FedExCup.

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As a professional courtesy, Faxon laid low, respecting McIlroy’s relationship with Kenyon, who also works with European stars Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Knowing how McIlroy didn’t like the way Dave Stockton took credit after helping him win multiple majors, Faxon let McIlroy do the talking. Asked about their encounter during his Saturday news conference at Bay Hill, McIlroy called it “more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

“There was nothing I told him he had never heard before, nothing I told him that was a secret,” Faxon, who once went 327 consecutive holes on Tour without a three-putt, said on Monday. “I think (Rory) said it perfectly when he said it allowed him to be an athlete again. We try to break it down so well, it locks us up. If I was able to unlock what was stuck, he took it to the next level. The thing I learned, there can be no method of belief more important than the athlete’s true instinct.”

Without going into too much detail, McIlroy explained that Faxon made him a little more “instinctive and reactive.” In other words, less “mechanical and technical.” It was the same takeaway that Gary Woodland had after picking Faxon’s brain before his win in this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Sunday night, after leading the field in strokes gained-putting, McIlroy was more elaborative, explaining how Faxon “freed up my head more than my stroke,” confessing that he was complicating things a bit and was getting less athletic.

“You look at so many guys out there, so many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “The objective is to get the ball in the hole and that’s it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

All of this occurred after a conversation I had Sunday morning with swing instructor Pete Cowen, who praised Kenyon for the work he had done with his player, Henrik Stenson. Cowen attributed Henrik’s third-round lead at Bay Hill to the diligent work he put in with Kenyon over the last two months.

“It’s confidence,” Cowen said. “(Stenson) needs a good result for confidence and then he’s off. If he putts well, he has a chance of winning every time he plays.”

Cowen made the point that on the PGA Tour, a player needs 100-110 putts per week – or an average of 25-27 putts per round – to have a chance of winning. Those include what Cowen calls the “momentum putts,” that are especially vital in breaking hearts at this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Stenson, who is not playing this week in Austin, Texas, saw a lot of positives but admitted there wasn’t much he could do against McIlroy shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round on a tricky golf course.

“It's starting to come along in the right direction for sure,” Stenson said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there this week, even though maybe the confidence is not as high as some of the shots were, so we'll keep on working on that and it's a good time of the year to start playing well.”

Nobody knows that better than McIlroy, who is hoping to stay hot going for his third WGC and, eventually, the career Grand Slam at Augusta.

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Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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Webb granted U.S. Women's Open special exemption

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 6:22 pm

Karrie Webb's streak of consecutive appearances at the U.S. Women's Open will continue this summer.

The USGA announced Monday that the 43-year-old Aussie has been granted a special exemption into this year's event, held May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. Webb, a winner in both 2000 and 2001, has qualified for the event on merit every year since 2011 when her 10-year exemption for her second victory ended.

"As a past champion, I'm very grateful and excited to accept the USGA's special exemption into this year's U.S. Women's Open," Webb said in a release. "I have always loved competing in the U.S. Women's Open and being tested on some of the best courses in the country."

Webb has played in the tournament every year since 1996, the longest such active streak, meaning that this summer will mark her 23rd consecutive appearance. She has made the U.S. Women's Open cut each of the last 10 years, never finishing outside the top 50 in that span.

Webb's exemption is the first handed out by the USGA since 2016, when Se Ri Pak received an invite to play at CordeValle. Prior to that the two most recent special exemptions went to Juli Inkster (2013) and Laura Davies (2009). The highest finish by a woman playing on a special exemption came in 1994, when Amy Alcott finished sixth.