Wet Week on Tap at Womens Open

By Associated PressJune 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 U.S. Womens OpenNEWPORT, R.I. -- Newport Country Club is dripping with history.
The links-style course hugs the Atlantic shoreline and is such a throwback that it still doesn't have an irrigation system, relying on Mother Nature to decide whether it plays firm and fast or long and lush. The first major champion in the United States was crowned at Newport in 1895, and the club is one of the five charter members of the USGA.
But on the eve of the U.S. Women's Open, the first professional major at this site in 111 years, history gave way to a bleak forecast: Newport is simply dripping.
The course has received more than 13 inches of rain during the last six weeks, including 3 1/2 inches last weekend. Local fire companies have pumped more than 3 million gallons of water off the course, and some bunkers still resemble small, dirty pools.
'It's going to be a wet, long U.S. Open,' Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition, said Wednesday.
And that might play into hands of Michelle Wie, a young star with another chance to make history at one of oldest clubs in America.
The 16-year-old star from Hawaii is trying to become golf's youngest major champion, although this is nothing new. Wie has been competing in majors since she was 13 and played in the final group of the Kraft Nabisco Championship as an eighth-grader. She has been getting closer to an elusive trophy with every major she plays.
Wie was tied for the lead going into the final round of the U.S. Women's Open a year ago until Cherry Hills sent her crashing to an 82. She had a 25-foot chip for eagle to win the Kraft Nabisco, then missed a 10-foot birdie putt coming back to fall one shot out of a playoff. Three weeks ago at the LPGA Championship, she missed two putts inside 8 feet on the final three holes and narrowly missed another playoff.
'I dream about winning tournaments, making history, and I do think about that kind of stuff,' Wie said. 'But I just can't think about it when I'm playing. I'm very focused. I'm just thinking about the shots that I have to hit, what I have to do for my part, and I'm just going to try my hardest and play my hardest.
'If I end up winning, great,' she added. 'If I don't, I want to end this week knowing that I played my hardest.'
Expectations must be tempered for anyone at the U.S. Women's Open, the biggest event in women's golf.
Morgan Pressel had high expectations a year ago at Cherry Hills, tied for the lead and marching toward her ball in the middle of the 18th fairway. She looked up at the green in time to see Birdie Kim hole a 30-yard bunker shot for birdie to win.
'I was definitely disappointed and it was a letdown because I felt like I was ready,' said Pressel, who turned 18 last month and graduated from high school. 'But you realize that happens in sport.'
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is Annika Sorenstam.
She won back to back at the U.S. Women's Open early in her career, but as Sorenstam took her game to unprecedented heights on the LPGA Tour by winning 44 times in the last five years, she has gone a decade without winning this event. She has hit the wrong shot at the wrong time, and on two occasions, someone else simply played better.
Sorenstam was a late arrival to Newport, and didn't play her first practice round Tuesday. She played Wednesday, and perhaps it was a sign of the tough conditions expected this week. The wind never died, gusting to 20 mph under gray, damp skies.
'I love the fact that course is quite long. I like the fact we're going to get some wind,' Sorenstam said. 'I think it's going to be a great course for this type of a championship.'
The course will play at least 6,564 yards, making it the longest at sea level for the Women's Open. The wet conditions will make Newport feel even longer, and perhaps play into Wie's powerful game.
She was ripping her driver long and straight during a nine holes of practice Wednesday morning, hitting middle irons when those playing with her had to rely on fairway metals.
The USGA had a computerized launch monitor set up behind the 15th hole. Players teed off and then hurried to check their numbers, such as ball speed and launch angle, that showed up on the screen.
Wie frowned when she saw her ball speed at 150 mph -- about 15 mph below her average -- but swing coach David Leadbetter smiled and told her that this week wasn't only about pounding the ball.
'Save that for the 84 Lumber,' he said, referring to the PGA Tour event at Nemacolin Resort in western Pennsylvania where Wie will play in September.
She has played as much against the men as the women this year with mixed results.
Wie made her first cut against the men at the SK Telecom Open on the Asian tour, and had a fighting chance to qualify for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot until her putter betrayed her at Canoe Brook. In her three LPGA events, she has had birdie putts on the last hole to get into a playoff, missing them all.
Wie was asked which would be better -- making the cut on the PGA Tour or winning on the LPGA Tour.
'I would love to win an LPGA major or a tournament,' she said. 'And I would love to make the cut in a men's tournament. I'm not sure which would be a bigger impact on me because it hasn't happened to me before. I'll do both, and I'll tell you which is better.'
Related Links:
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''

    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.