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:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
     
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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: