So Much for Lorena Slam

By Brian HewittJune 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
Well, so much for a Grand Slam in professional golf this year.
 
Oops, sorry about that, Trevor. Yes the same Trevor Immelman who birdied the last three holes in Memphis Sunday to muscle his way into a playoff eventually won by Justin Leonard, still has a theoretical chance for the calendar slam on the mens side.
 
If he wins the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines next Sunday, please deposit this column in the circular file.
 
Meanwhile, Im feeling a little melancholy for the fact that Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam tied for third'not first'after 72 holes of the McDonalds LPGA at Bulle Rock north of Baltimore Sunday.
 
No disrespect meant to Swedens long-hitting Maria Hjorth and Taiwans 19-year-old Yani Tseng. Theirs was a tense four-hole playoff in which Tseng finally prevailed with a short birdie putt to become the second youngest woman to win an LPGA major. It was also her first win of any kind on the LPGA.
 
Its just that an Ochoa victory would have marked her third straight win in a major and gotten her halfway to the 2008 Grand Slam. The attendant publicity would have resulted in a windfall of media attention for womens golf. Similarly, a Sorenstam triumph would have framed the debate in womens golf for the rest of the season:
 
Ochoa or Sorenstam?
 
Both finished one shot out of the overtime.
 
The lesson Ochoa will learn (we hope) is to never let the Golf Gods hear you say out loud in public that a golf round was easy. Thats the word she used after cruising to a 65 Friday and the 36-hole lead. It was an honest mistake by an honest person.
 
But next time, Lorena, try something like this: Gosh, I felt really comfortable out there today. Golf is never easy. But things were really going my way today.
 
We, the media, probably wont be as happy with couched phraseology. But the Golf Gods are pretty sensitive even when the hubris they hear is unintentional.
 
Ochoa struggled on the weekend, shooting scores of 72 and 71. Nothing I can do now, she said when it was over. I did my best. It wasnt my time.
 
Sorenstam could have joined Hjorth and Tseng in the playoff had she birdied the 72nd hole. If her putting had measured up to her ball-striking at Bulle Rock, she would have won going away.
 
I left a lot of shots out there, she said when it was over. Its a tough time.
 
And its probably her last time in this event. Not long ago Sorenstam announced she will leave the LPGA at the end of the year. Sounds like she isnt coming back.
 
I cant imagine an LPGA leaderboard without Annikas name on it, said LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens Sunday.
 
Nor can most of the rest of us.
 
And More.....
 
Finally, a few observations on the mens side as U.S. Open week approaches:
 
  • I am less skeptical now about the condition of Tiger Woods surgically-repaired left knee. It could turn out to be that the act of walking 72 holes takes more out of him than the act of swinging the club. But the fact that he was walking and playing Sunday at Torrey Pines, reportedly pain-free, was a very good sign.
     
  • I am waiting to hear Adam Scotts version of the report GOLF CHANNEL aired Sunday regarding the condition of the little finger on his right hand. One source, deeply embedded in the Scott camp, told GOLF CHANNEL the finger was broken three weeks ago in an incident that involved a car door slamming. More details, said the source, will have to come from Scott. Scott is still entered to play at Torrey Pines.
     
  • Vijay Singh wilted in the Sunday heat of Memphis early on the back nine and has never played especially well at Torrey Pines South, the site of this weeks national championship. If he comes up big at Torrey Pines, it will be proof-positive that the course is entirely different at the U.S. Open than it is at the Buick Invitational earlier in the year.
     
  • Englishman Luke Donald is on a hot streak that started a few Sundays ago at Wentworth in England. He once lost in a playoff to John Daly at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines. Of all the non-bombers, Donald and Justin Leonard are at the top of my list for Torrey Pines. No European has won the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin way back in 1970. The conventional wisdom is that only long hitters have a chance at Torrey Pines. But if the course runs as firm and fast as USGA set-up guy Mike Davis is saying, it could let players like Leonard, Donald and former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk into the mix.
     
  • Boo Weekley has enough game to win the U.S. Open. And wouldnt that be the story of the year in golf?
     
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.