Semple Thompson Makes Record 12th Curtis Cup Team

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 3, 2002, 4:00 pm
Far Hills, N.J. - Six-time USA national champion Carol Semple Thompson and current U.S. Womens Amateur champion Meredith Duncan lead the list of selections for the 2002 USA Curtis Cup team announced for its biennial match against the Great Britain & Ireland team. The match will be contested Aug. 3-4 at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The eight-member USA team was selected by the United States Golf Associations Womens Committee and will be captained by Mary Budke, 48, of Eugene, Ore. Budke, the 1972 U.S. Womens Amateur champion, was a member of the 1974 U.S. Curtis Cup team.
Judy Oliver of Sewickley, Pa., is the honorary captain for this years Curtis Cup Match. She was a U.S. Curtis Cup team member in 1978, 1980 and 1982, and was captain of the 1992 USA squad.
Other golfers selected for the USA team include Emily Bastel, 21, of Upper Sandusky, Ohio; Mollie Fankhauser, 21, of Dublin, Ohio; Leigh Anne Hardin, 20, of Martinsville, Ind.; Angela Jerman, 21, of Columbus, Ga.; Laura Myerscough, 22, of Charleston, Ill.; and Courtney Swaim, 22, of Suwanee, Ga.
Three women were selected as alternates: Danielle Downey, 21, of Spencerport, N.Y.; Jennifer Perri, 21, of Eden Prairie, Minn.; and 2001 U.S. Womens Mid-Amateur champion Laura Shanahan, 43, of Bedford, N.H.
The Curtis Cup competition features three foursomes (alternate shot of partners) and six singles matches each day, with each match worth one point toward the team score. Each team gets a half point for a tied match after 18 holes.
The match is conducted every two years, alternately in the United States of America and Great Britain and Ireland. The Cup is named in honor of Harriot and Margaret Curtis, sisters who won the U.S. Women's Amateur four times between them.
The USA leads the series 22-6-3, and has won the last two meetings.
This will be the record 12th Curtis Cup appearance for Semple Thompson, 53, of Sewickley, Pa., who played in the 1974, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000 Matches. Her 16 victories (8-7-3 in foursomes and 8-8-1 in singles) is also a Curtis Cup record.
Semple Thompson captured her sixth national title when she won her third straight USGA Senior Womens Amateur in 2001. She also won the 1973 U.S. Womens Amateur and the 1990 and 1997 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur championships. Semple Thompson has appeared in the U.S. Womens Open 31 times and was three times the low amateur ' 1974, 1978 and 1988. Among her numerous championships, she captured the 1974 British Ladies Open Amateur and has won the Pennsylvania State Amateur championship 20 times, including 2001.
Duncan, 22, of Shreveport, La., won the 2001 U.S. Womens Amateur in a thrilling 37-hole match over Nicole Perrot of Chile. She also captured the 2001 North-South Amateur and 2000 and 2001 Womens Western Amateurs. A first-team All-American in 2002, she received both the Dinah Shore Trophy Award and the Nancy Lopez Award. She tied for third at the 2002 NCAA East Regional and earned first-team All-American honors.
Bastel, a senior at MichiganState University, made it to the semifinals of the 2001 U.S. Womens Amateur. She earned second-team All-American honors in 2002 and was the Big Ten Conferences Athlete of the Year for womens golf. Bastel won the Big Ten Conference Championship in 2000 and earned medalist honors at both the WSF Waterlefe Invitational and Indiana Invitational in 2002.
Fankhauser, a junior at The Ohio State University, won her second straight Big Ten Conference Championship in 2002 and earned second-team All-American honors for the second straight year. She was a semifinalist at the 2001 Womens Western Amateur and finished fourth at the 2001 NCAA Western Regional. She also won the Verizon MoMorial in 2002 and tied for sixth at the 2002 NCAA Central Regional.
Hardin, a sophomore at Duke University, was the 1998 U.S. Girls Junior champion. She won medalist honors at the 2002 NCAA East Regional and finished 13th at the NCAA Championship to help Duke capture the national championship. During the 2001-02 season, she had eight top-20 finishes and earned second-team All-American honors.
Jerman, a senior at the University of Georgia, finished sixth at the 2002 NCAA Championships and earned first-team All-American honors. She was the 2002 SEC Golfer of the Year and broke the single-season scoring record at Georgia with her 72.91 stroke average. In the final 16 events of her collegiate career, she recorded 11 top-10 finishes.
Myerscough, a junior at Arizona, was the runner-up at the 2000 U.S. Womens Amateur. She finished seventh at the 2002 NCAA Championships and earned honorable mention All-American honors after earning four top-10 finishes in 2001-02. She was a member of the USA squad at the Womens World Amateur Team Championships in 2000.
Swaim, a senior at Auburn University, was the 2001 Eastern Amateur champion. In 2002, she tied for third at the NCAA East Regional and finished fourth at both the Harder Hall Invitational and the Sally. She earned first-team All-American honors in 2002 and won the Georgia Womens Open, earning a spot in the LPGA Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.
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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.