Acker-Macosko Qualifies For LPGA
In addition to Acker-Macosko, 26 other Futures Tour players qualified for the next year's LPGA Tour. Of that number, Soo Young Kim of Chung Nam, South Korea, Loraine Lambert of Queensland, Australia, Hilary Homeyer of Edina, Minn., and Young-A Yang of Taegu, South Korea, each placed among the top 23 to gain exempt status. Twenty-two other Futures Tour players received non-exempt conditional status by finishing among the next 35 players and ties.
Acker-Macosko, a nonexempt LPGA Tour member this past season, was tied for 10th with three other players after 54-holes with a 212 (-4), 11 shots short of Lovander. Her red hot front nine including four birdies on two, five, eight, and nine, draining respective 12, 20, 40, and 15-foot putts. Continuing on the back side, Acker-Macosko bogeyed 13, but followed up with a pair of birdies on 16 and 17. Despite an additional bogey on 18, she was able to finish with a four-under-par 68.
'It is just a relief that it is finally over,' beamed the 33-year-old Acker-Macosko after her round. 'I was very nervous yesterday, but today I felt good the minute I stepped onto the first tee. For the two weeks leading up to this tournament, I practiced with my two coaches, John Benson and my father Darrell and it really paid off. I came out this week completely focused and very positive. It is just an incredible feeling to get my exempt card again. I'm really looking forward to starting the season.'
In four tournaments on the Futures Tour last year, Acker-Macosko posted two top-10 finishes, including losing in a three-way playoff at the Coleman Golf Classic in Wichita, Kan. She finished 29th on the Tour's money list with $11,994. In 15 starts on the 2002 LPGA Tour, her best finish was a tie for 21st at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic in Chesterfield, Mo. Acker-Macosko's season earnings totaled $28,234.
Acker-Macosko has been a member of the LPGA Tour since 1996 and competed with exempt status in 1997 and 1999. In 2000, she played part time because she was recovering from knee surgery and took the entire 2001 season after giving birth to her son Ben. After nearly two years, Acker-Macosko finally returned this season as a full-time player and was joined by husband and caddie Ron and their son, Ben.
Acker-Macosko added, 'I had a really complicated birth and coming back this season, I really did not know what to expect of myself and how I would play. I could only practice three hours a week, while other players would do that in one day. I was juggling being a mom and a full-time professional golfer.
It was very difficult to get back to the level I was competing at with such minimal time to dedicate to my game. I knew it was going to be a really long year and I had to get used to a lot of adjustments.'
Despite being prepared and focused for this week's tournament, she felt even more pressure to reach her goal of gaining exempt status. Her husband Ron recently left his job as an athletic director at Concord College in West Virginia and they realized their only option was to earn a full exemption.
'Now that Ron is my full-time caddie, I really had no other choice but to get my exempt card back,' stated a relieved Acker-Macosko. 'That put a lot of pressure on the both of us, but we were able to handle it very well. We agreed that whatever happened would happen and we would deal with any outcome. Once I started playing, everything started to fall into place. Looking back to the beginning of last year, I can say that this is a great ending to a really bad dream.'
All 27 players who qualified this week accompany Futures Tour players Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, Christina Kim of San Jose, Calif., and Miriam Nagl of Berlin, Germany, as members of the 2003 LPGA Tour. The trio earned exempt status by placing among the top three on the Futures Tour Money List following the York Newspaper Company Futures Classic in mid-August.
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park
PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.
Laura Davies won the day.
It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.
Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.
Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.
For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.
In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.
“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”
At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.
“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”
Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.
“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.
With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.
“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”
Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.
“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”
She also relished showing certain fans something.
“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.
In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.
Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.
“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.
After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.
“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.
In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.
“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”
And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.
Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.
The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?
“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”
And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.
After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.
“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”