Shinnecock Open to Another First-Timer

By Associated PressJune 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- First-time major winners are on quite a roll. From Rich Beem to Phil Mickelson, the last six majors have been used to induct new members into the exclusive club. So, is there room for one more at the U.S. Open?
Certainly, it's not out of the question that another neophyte will hoist the trophy Sunday as the sun sets on Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
The list of non-major-winning contenders starts with Sergio Garcia, the consensus choice to inherit Mickelson's former title of Best Player Never to Win a Major.
But also keep an eye on players such as Chad Campbell and Padraig Harrington, who seem poised for a major breakthrough.
'Chad Campbell could easily win this week,' said Lee Janzen, a two-time Open winner. 'He swings fearlessly and he plays fearlessly. Those are two good things to have at this tournament.'
These days, it doesn't hurt to be a guy who's never won a major. It's happened six times in a row, an unprecedented streak in golf history.
The list can be divided into two very distinct groups. There's Mickelson (2004 Masters), Jim Furyk ('03 U.S. Open) and Mike Weir ('03 Masters) - top players who figured to win a major at some point in their careers. Then there's Shaun Micheel ('03 PGA Championship), Ben Curtis ('03 British Open) and Beem ('02 PGA Championship) - largely unknown players who pulled off fluky upsets and haven't done much since.
Maybe that latter group didn't feel the intense pressure that accompanies players such as Tiger Woods and Ernie Els at every major. Maybe that will help another upstart who's gone through three days of practice without drawing much attention.
'I always feel that when I play a major, I really need to be in contention over the weekend,' Els said. 'Maybe other players just like to come in and not really have any expectations and just enjoy the week for what it is.'
Garcia is hardly unknown, already making a couple of strong runs at his first major. He finished second to Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship and was fourth at the U.S. Open two years ago.
Only 24, the Spaniard has enough ability and experience to win a major, but he is still young enough that he's not burdened the way Mickelson was before he captured the green jacket in April.
'I'm pretty comfortable with my game,' Garcia said. 'I've been getting quite consistent throughout these past years. I really feel like I have a bit more confidence in myself to try to do something here.'
Garcia seems to be peaking at just the right time. He's won twice in the past five weeks, taking the Byron Nelson and last week's Buick Classic at Westchester.
Still, history is working against him. The last European to win the Open was England's Tony Jacklin in 1970, though the issue has become less significant as more players from across the Atlantic - Garcia included - play regularly on the PGA Tour.
'It would be great to get a European guy to win here,' he said. 'But the field is so strong, and the players nowadays, everybody can play so well. Everybody has their chance. Hopefully we can get some Europeans up there and at least threaten.'
Campbell is a popular dark horse this week, on the verge of being recognized as an elite player in just his third year on tour. He'll get a chance to shine at Shinnecock, playing in the group with Woods on the first two days.
The 30-year-old Texan was runner-up to Micheel at last year's PGA Championship, won the Tour Championship to end 2003 and captured his second career victory in March at Bay Hill.
Off the tee and in the fairway, Campbell's game is certainly major quality. He ranks fifth in total driving and ninth in reaching greens in regulation.
'He just gets up there and hits the ball,' Janzen said. 'He doesn't seem to spend much time on the technical part of the game. That's a very good way to be.'
There are still questions about Campbell's short game, which will be especially critical on the slick greens and sloping run-offs of Shinnecock Hills.
'The short part is not the best part of his game,' Janzen said. 'And you've got to be able to chip and putt around this place.'
Furyk said Campbell's perceived weaknesses are overblown.
'A lot of times, you look at someone who has a good short game and it's because they don't hit it very good,' Furyk said. 'Chad is a very solid ball striker. Maybe his short game is not at the level of his ball striking. ... But if he wasn't a well-rounded player, he wouldn't have had the consistent success he's had over the last year, year and a half.'
Harrington is one of the top players on the European Tour and usually plays well at the U.S. Open, finishing in the top 10 three times since 2000. Last week, during a tuneup at Westchester, he lost to Garcia in a playoff. The Irishman's experience on links-style courses should serve him well at Shinnecock.
'There is a lot of difficulty out there. Sometimes, experience and the fear you have from experience will hamper you on this golf course,' Harrington said. 'You could definitely see someone without the experience winning this week. Yeah, no problem.'
Join the club.
Related links:
  • U.S. Open Photo Gallery

  • TV Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

    Getty Images

    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

    Getty Images

    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

    Getty Images

    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.