LPGAs Second Major Upon Us

By Brian HewittJune 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
Story lines are everywhere you want to look these days on the LPGA. Theres even a pretty good little soap opera developing as the best women golfers in the world make their final preparations for next weeks McDonalds LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola.
 
Its their second major of the year and it begins Thursday at Bulle Rock Golf Course where Se Ri Pak defeated Karrie Webb in a one-hole playoff last year. Bulle Rock is a par 72 and will play to 6,596 yards. The purse is two million dollars.
 
The initial story line in the years first major at Kraft Nabisco was supposed to be Annika Sorenstam. Would this be the No. 1 player in the worlds year to collect the womens calendar Grand Slam?
 
Sorenstam assured us early that week that she was confident and striking the ball well. Then she went out and struggled to a 75-76 start that barely got her to the weekend. Her putter, more than anything else, let her down in the final analysis.
 
Not long after that we found out Annika had been struggling for months with neck and back issues. Her return to action at the Ginn Tribute this week was her first action since Kraft Nabisco. She played cautiously but well. She will be a dark horse at Bulle Rock; but a dark horse with a terrific track record on golfs big stages.
 
A lot of has changed since Kraft Nabisco. Sorenstam has lost her No. 1 ranking. Morgan Pressel has emerged, having won at Mission Hills. And Michelle Wie has returned from wrist injuries. More on her in a few paragraphs.
 
New world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa will still be looking for her first major at the McDonald's LPGA. And she will arrive as the consensus favorite. In the years first major she looked ready to break through.
 
As late as Friday night at Kraft Nabisco Ochoa shared the lead. Then she went out Saturday and fired at a pin'the par 3 17th'when she should have known better. The result was a quadruple bogey 7 that included a whiff. Her chances died quickly.
 
For her part, Pak too, found herself in the hunt and looking for her sixth major heading into Sundays final round at Mission Hills. By the end of play Saturday Paks name had ascended to the top of the leaderboard and everybody had picked up on the fact that a triumph would complete the rare womens career Grand Slam.
 
Pak hung in for a while Sunday then started making bogeys in bunches. Five of the first eight holes on the back nine produced dropped shots. And quicker than you can say 18, Paks hopes were dashed.
 
Meanwhile the Wie saga added a freighting chapter at the Ginn Tribute where she withdrew after 16 holes of Thursdays first round. Wie was 14 over par at the time. Two more bogeys would have produced an 88. And it would have made her ineligible for LPGA events'the Tour has a rule that any non-member who shoots 88 or higher cant play in LPGA events for the rest of that year'for the remainder of 2007.
 
After huddling with one of her handlers, Greg Nared of the William Morris Agency, Wie withdrew, citing a sore wrist. I kind of tweaked it in the middle of the round a bit, she said.
 
Meanwhile all heck broke loose. Golfweek Magazines website reported that Alena Sharp, one of Wies Thursday playing competitors, said she never saw Wie holding her wrist in pain during the round.
 
I think she withdrew because of the high score, definitely, Golfweek quoted Sharp as saying. If it was a wrist problem, dont you think she (Wie) would have withdrawn after a few holes? Why wait?
 
In other words, Sharp was saying, Wie was trying to avoid an 88.
 
The LPGAs official position on the controversy was this from spokesperson Connie Wilson: She (Wie) withdrew due to injury and thats where that will end as far as the LPGA is concerned.
 
Golfweek also reported that there were issues between Wie and LPGA officials regarding an alleged impropriety committed by Wies father, B.J. Wie, during her round. Specifically Sharp and Janice Moodie, the other member of their threesome, thought B.J. Wie might have given Wie advice during the round. Thats a no-no. Others pointed out that Michelle hadnt asked for advice so it was all right for her father to advise her to re-tee at the 15th hole where she had hit an errant drive.
 
Afterward Wies caddie refused to talk to reporters about the allegation. But Golfweek quoted an LPGA official as saying Wie would be warned about getting too close to his daughter during rounds before the McDonalds LPGA.
 
Meanwhile, as of late Friday, Wie was still entered in the field at Bulle Rock where, last year, she trailed the lead by just one shot going into the final round.
 
Stay tuned for the further adventures of Michelle. Meanwhile look for even more storylines to develop as the LPGAs second major unfolds next week in Maryland.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - McDonalds LPGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.