No 4 Open Grabs Spotlight

By George WhiteDecember 26, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #4Editor's note: We are counting down the top 10 stories in golf for the 2005 season. This is Story No. 4.
 
Cherry Hills is the scene of a monumental moment in mens golf, that day in the 1960 U.S. Open when Arnold Palmer drove the green at the first hole en route to his final-day victory.
 
Now Cherry Hill has another watershed moment. This one came at the U.S. Womens Open, but it came at the 18th hole. Suddenly, swiftly, with a shocking climax, the 2005 Womens Open was decided on the last hole on Sunday.
 
The acknowledged best player in all of womens golf, Annika Sorenstam, didnt win. Neither did Lorena Ochoa, who detonated on the final hole after it appeared she was going to do it. Neither did the 17-year-old amateur, Morgan Pressel, who had to be content with a tie for second, nor the person she tied for runner-up, 19-year-old amateur Brittany Lang.
 
No, each had a shining moment, but fell back. Not so one Birdie Kim, who had one glorious opportunity, one moment when she could say, this is it ' and took advantage of it.
 
That came late in the day, on the 72nd and final hole. Kim was tied for the lead with Pressel, a high school student from Florida. Pressel was playing one group behind Kim and had a clear view of the unlikely proceedings.
 
Morgan Pressel
Morgan Pressel is brought to tears by the shocking 72nd hole finish.
The 18th hole at Cherry Hills in Denver is 459 yards long. Kim had managed to get up close to the green, but her approach shot had landed in a deep bunker some 60 feet from the cup. No one on the course, no one in the gallery, expected Kim to make the shot. After all, look at her bunker statistics during the 2005 season up to that point ' Birdie was only 141st on the LPGA, having converted just six of 27 tries.
 
But this time, she was perfect. Kim carefully swung, the club slapping the sand, the ball arching out of the bunker, then bounding and rolling, and rolling, til it finally reached its destination. It dropped into the cup, a birdie for Birdie!
 
It could have been Annikas tournament ' after all, she had won the seasons first two majors and she was slowly, determinedly tracking down this one en route to the Grand Slam. She had opened with a 71, positioning her just off the lead of 69. But Sorenstam skied to a 75 the second day, and though she came back with another 71 the third round, she opened the final 18 with a 42 and could never mount a serious rally.
 
It could have been Ochoa. She had the lead coming into that same 18th hole ' but detonated in a quadruple-bogey. She hit a 3-wood off the tee and chunked it, into water. She finally staggered into the scoring trailer with an eight and finished four shots behind Kim.
 
And it could have been Pressel. She had played beautifully for a 17-year-old ' beautifully, that is, for anybody in the field. She had carefully, painstakingly set herself up for no worse than a playoff. Then, from out in the fairway, she saw Kims magical shot.
 
Pressel clasped her hands to the top of her head in disbelief. That was unbelievable, that she made that shot, she said afterwards. I was like, I cant believe this is happening to me.
 
But in the end, it was a young Korean named Birdie 'she changed her name from Ju-Yun to Birdie to distinguish herself from all the rest of the Koreans who play the tour. And it didnt matter that, up until that week late in June, she had missed the cut in seven of 13 tournaments. And it didnt matter that she couldnt finish in the top 20 in a full-field event thereafter. For four solid days in Denver, she was the champion, picking her way through all the hazards and the brutal setup that was Cherry Hills.
 
Finally, she stood on the 72nd tee, still astounded that she was in this group that still had a chance to win. I never think about to win, she said in her delightfully fractured English. I just try to do my best.
 
She started the hole with a driver off the tee, then had an uphill lie with her 7-wood. She tried to draw the 7-wood, but ball doesnt draw between the bunker, she said.
 
That wasnt the ideal scenario for Kim. Actually I am not a real good bunker player, she said. Also I change my sand wedge about two weeks ago. That club is not used yet to me. So I have a lot of miss this week with bunker shot. Finally I make it.
 
Birdie Kim
Birdie Kim celebrates her unlikely final hole birdie.
Her playing partner was 15-year-old Michelle Wie ' who, incidentally, was also tied for the lead when the day began but suffered an 82. Wie also had a bunker shot from the same bunker as Birdie. Wie played first.
 
I watching Michelle's, Kim said. Her ball is not much that rolling, not a lot. I have confidence that I can close to make the hole.
 
Now it was Birdies turn to play. It was not the kind of shot that you think has a chance to go into the hole.
 
I don't think I make. I just try to get close, she said. Tried my best to make par, maybe I can, make bogey still I have chance. I just want to try to par, get close to hole. But I never think about those ball go in the hole. So amazing.
 
So I catch - green is not that fast, not that hard and more I have confidence to make close to the pin and after hit really I didn't see the roll. Maybe get close, but it's very big -- maybe really close, I just run up, was go in.

Wie sensed something before Birdie hit the shot. I had a good feeling about that, she said. I knew she was going to make par. But I guess her name was lucky, so she made a birdie.
 
So the 23-year-old rode that shot to victory. And now, regardless of where she is, regardless of what she is doing, she can tell her grandchildren about how she won the U.S. Womens Open.

Just amazing, she said with a big laugh. I didn't try to make it. That's why I was surprised and maybe that helped me, that's why I can make it.
 
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • U.S. Women's Open Coverage
  • Photo Gallery - U.S Women's Open
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.