Ryu beats Seo in U.S. Women's Open playoff

By Associated PressJuly 11, 2011, 3:32 pm

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – As she stood on the 18th green drenched in champagne, holding a trophy and wearing a mile-wide smile, there was no doubt about it: So Yeon Ryu is the brightest star on a South Korean golf roster that has more than its share of them.

The 21-year-old won the U.S. Women’s Open on Monday, first with a birdie on No. 18 that tied her Korean rival, Hee Kyung Seo, then with a shotmaking clinic over a three-hole playoff to beat Seo by three shots.

It was the latest – and most emphatic – statement about the pecking order of women’s golf in South Korea, where the sport’s stars turn into the country’s icons and Se Ri Pak is already a legend at age 33.

“When I was started golf, Se Ri Pak won the U.S. Women’s Open tournament, so this tournament is really special for me,” Ryu said.

Starting on the 16th hole, Ryu played the three-hole playoff in 2 under par, all but sealing it when she hit three perfect shots to the green on the par-5 17th and made the putt for a birdie while Seo drove into a bunker and had to scramble for bogey.

For good measure, Ryu hit her approach on 18 to 4 feet for another birdie, which sparked a champagne-spraying celebration on the 18th green. Pak was among the South Korean contingent that ran out to douse Ryu in her glow-in-the-dark orange shirt and cap.

Great as the moment was, it was the birdie Ryu made on 18 about an hour earlier that was the defining moment of the tournament.

Trailing by one to an opponent who had closed out her round before darkness stopped play the previous night, Ryu stood behind her ball in the fairway, plumbed her 6-iron to her nose, then closed one eye to take dead aim at the 170-yard shot. She drew the shot uphill, over the lake and landed the ball six feet from the hole. Moments later, she slammed the putt home to pull into a tie. She ended up with two birdies in the span of an hour on a hole that yielded only 28 over five days.

Certainly nobody can ever say Ryu backed into this title, won on a 7,000-yard Broadmoor course that got hit by storms every day, turning it into a test of endurance and patience for some players and a sporadic series of starts and stops for others.

“It’s never over `til it’s over, especially in these things,” Cristie Kerr said. “People really want it, and that was a gutsy putt.”

Kerr also had a chance. She came to the Broadmoor on Monday trailing by two with two holes to play, but couldn’t convert a 12-foot putt from the fringe on 17 to make things interesting. She finished third at 1 under.

Angela Stanford birdied 16 to also give herself an outside shot. But she, too, made par on 17 and wound up even par and in fourth place.

That left it a match between the two South Koreans who have been doing their dance for the last few years, jostling for position on the tour back home, deciding whether a permanent move to America would benefit them most, taking turns in the headlines and on the winner’s podium.

Seo appeared to be ahead coming into this tournament, breaking through on the LPGA last year with a victory that sent her over to America for good in 2011. She might have cemented her hold with a victory this week and she was poised for it Sunday night.

She played 36 holes over 14 hours Sunday and finished both rounds in 3-under 68 to end regulation at 3-under 281. But there was one hiccup: A short putt that rimmed out on No. 17 when she was rushing to finish – a ball hit while the wind was whipping, leaving her uneasy as she stood over it. It left her at 3 under instead of 4 under and gave Ryu a glimmer of hope.

“I think one mistake yesterday on the 17th green, that’s the one,” Seo said.

Seo came to the course Monday knowing she might be able to collect the trophy without hitting a shot. She was warming up on the driving range when she heard a roar from the 18th grandstand. It was Ryu’s approach shot.

” So, at that time, I was thinking about, `Oh, the time is now.”’

She had to go out for three more holes and is now 0-2 against Ryu in head-to-head playoffs. They also went three holes at the Chinese Ladies Open in 2009.

Seo was graceful in discussing the tournament and what it means for her country.

“I think they were cheering for both of us,” she said. “So, yeah, I feel very happy that a South Korean player won this great, big tournament.”

Ryu, who planned on finishing school back home before going to LPGA qualifying school, will cash a $585,000 winner’s check and have a ticket to join the American tour at her leisure.

This is Ryu’s first major and her first LPGA victory. She joins Pak (1998), Birdie Kim (2005), Inbee Park (2008) and Eun Hee Ji (2009) on the list of South Korean U.S. Open champions. She now holds the lead in the much-watched contest to supplant Pak as the country’s greatest player, though it figures this race –  like the tournament they just finished – will be a marathon. Ryu is 21 and Seo just turned 25.

“That means new history is coming in the future,” Pak said. “That’s what it is. It’s really good to see it.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

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

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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

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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