Choi captures Titleholders by two over Ryu

By Doug FergusonNovember 18, 2012, 9:17 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – If nothing else, Na Yeon Choi proved to be a big-money player this year on the LPGA Tour.

Choi captured her first major this summer at the U.S. Women's Open, the biggest purse of the year. She turned a great season into her best one yet Sunday by winning the Titleholders and a $500,000 check, the second-biggest prize on tour.

For someone who has an appointment Monday in Orlando to buy a new house, the timing couldn't have been better.

''I think I can buy bigger than I thought,'' Choi said.

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She earned it at The Twin Eagles Club in the final LPGA Tour event of the year by following good advice from her caddie on how to play the short par-4 16th, and delivering an exquisite shot with a 52-degree wedge to a deep, three-tiered green for a birdie that sent Choi on her way.

She closed with two pars for a 2-under 70 and a two-shot victory over So Yeon Ryu.

''I feel really great, and I'm really satisfied how I played – not just this week, but this season,'' said Choi, who finished at 14-under 274.

Ryu, honored this week as the LPGA Rookie of the Year, hit 3-wood into about 25 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 13th to tie for the lead. But on the next hole, she didn't account for the wind making her 30-foot birdie putt faster than it looked. The putt went some 6 feet by the hole, and a three-putt bogey cost her a share of the lead. She never caught up the rest of the way.

''I learn one more thing,'' Ryu said. ''I have to think about the wind strength at the green.''

Choi took it from there, and seized control on the 16th, which can be reached off the tee with a big drive. Her caddie, Jason Hamilton, didn't think it was worth the risk. Anything short leaves an awkward pitch, which is what Ryu ended up facing. Anything too close to the green and to the left leaves a blind pitch to the back of the three-tiered green, and par becomes a good score.

Choi hit 3-wood to the left side of the fairway and a 52-wedge to a tiny spot on an elevated green she couldn't see.

''Left side of the fairway is a better angle to the second shot,'' Choi said. ''I think the pin was at 79 yards, but I just landed it almost at the pin. I tried to land it almost to the pin. There's not a lot of room.''

It checked up and trickled to 3 feet, and she was on her way.

Brittany Lincicome also closed with a 70 to finish alone in third. Karrie Webb had a 69 to finish another shot behind.

Inbee Park was never in the hunt, though she still felt plenty of pressure in the final LPGA Tour event of the year. She needed to make sure she didn't stumble in the final round to capture the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average, and she handled that with ease. Park had a 70, while Stacy Lewis had a 74.

Lewis is the first American since 1994 to be LPGA Player of the Year. Park took the Vare Trophy and money title, the only woman to earn more than $2 million this year.

Sunday, however, belonged to Choi.

''I'm really happy with how I played this season,'' Choi said. ''I won my first major and even this tournament is very big for me. I think I can have even bigger expectations now and think I deserve it.''

She is becoming known as ''Big Apple'' because of her initials – NYC – and she sure knows how to pick the right tournaments to win. The 25-year-old South Korean finished with a career high in earnings at $1,981,834, with nearly 55 percent of that coming from two tournaments - $585,000 from the U.S. Women's Open and $500,000 from the Titleholders in a high-stakes end to the season. Ryu, who closed with a 70, earned $106,000.

It capped off another banner year for South Koreans. They won three of the four majors and finished 1-2 on the money list.

There were a few nervous moments early, particularly on the third hole, that put the tournament up for grabs.

Choi pulled her approach some 30 yards left of the green, surrounded by steep slopes. Her chip failed to reach the green, and she two-putted for double bogey. There was a four-way tie for the lead among Choi, Ryu, Lincicome and Ai Miyazato, with Webb only one shot out of the lead.

Moments later, Choi seized regained the lead with a 3-wood from 240 yards that landed some 20 yards short of the green and bounced onto the putting surface, rolled next to the flag and stopped just inside 10 feet away. She holed that for eagle and never trailed again.

Ryu took on a front bunker with a tee shot to 10 feet for birdie on the 12th, but Choi followed her with a 9-iron into 3 feet. Choi struggled with her irons, particularly wedges into the par 5s on the back nine, but she came up big with the toughest one of all.

''I was very nervous last night,'' Choi said. ''I told people that leading the tournament, there's always extra pressure. Even on front nine, when I had the double bogey and tie for first place, I felt more comfortable than leading. Maybe that sounds a little weird. I like chasing somebody, and then I can play more aggressive.''

She was aggressive until she tapped in for par on the final hole for the win, the third time in four seasons that she has had at least two victories. It put a smile on her face as she heads to Orlando for some house-hunting.

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Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 4:54 pm

Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.

In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:

After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."

Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.

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Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.

Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.

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“We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”

This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.

“The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.

Westchester Country Club hosted the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Getty) Getty Images

Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.

The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.

The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.

"The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."

First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

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Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar

By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2018, 12:48 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.

Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.

Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.

Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.

Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.


Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.

Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.  

P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.

Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.

Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.