Strange Brew at Witch Hollow

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 6, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTH PLAINS, Ore. (AP) -- Hilary Lunke and Angela Stanford watched from the tee. Kelly Robbins was in the scoring trailer, her eyes glued to the television.
No matter the viewpoint, it was an intimidating sight -- Annika Sorenstam in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 18th, poised to make birdie and win the U.S. Women's Open.
''I was expecting her to have a decent shot at birdie,'' Lunke said. ''You've always got to anticipate that. You're playing against the best player in the world, she's going to make birdie. And you have to match her.''
What followed was a stunning conclusion Sunday that set up a three-way playoff for the first time in 16 years at the U.S. Women's Open.
The real shocker: Sorenstam won't be there.
Sorenstam hit into the trees, into a bunker and fell apart with a bogey on the 18th hole, leaving Lunke, Stanford and Robbins to play for the biggest prize in women's golf.
Robbins birdied two of the last three holes, just missing an eagle putt on No. 18 and closing with a 2-under 69.
Lunke hit a clutch bunker shot from 107 yards and had a 15-foot birdie putt to win, only to come up short and shoot 75.
The biggest surprise was Stanford, a forgotten figure until her 20-foot birdie putt curled down the ridge on the 18th and disappeared for a birdie. She shot 74, and was thrilled to play one more day.
As for Sorenstam? She's great, but not perfect.
''The fact you have the chance to win the U.S. Open coming up the 18th ... if you're not nervous, you're not human,'' Stanford said. ''I'm sure she was nervous.''
Sorenstam learned all about pressure two months ago at Colonial as the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour. It didn't pay off at Pumpkin Ridge.
She never birdied the 502-yard closing hole all week. She had only 236 yards left Sunday, but her 4-wood sailed into the trees, next to a fence surrounding the portable toilets and behind the large scoreboard.
It took 20 minutes to get relief, and her chip from a thin patch of dry grass clipped a branch and dropped in the bunker. She blasted out to 15 feet, but the par putt to remain at 1-under never had a chance.
''I wanted to make birdie,'' she said. ''Obviously, I played aggressive, it shot out to the right and the rest is history. I'm very disappointed, but I gave it my all.
''It's going to take a while to recover from this.''
It will take one more round, on a tough Witch Hollow course, to find a winner.
Monday will be the first playoff in the U.S. Women's Open since Se Ri Pak won at Blackwolf Run in 1998, and the first involving three women since Laura Davies defeated Ayako Okamoto and JoAnne Carner in 1987.
Lunke had a chance to win with the final putt, 15 feet below the cup for birdie. It had the right line, but came up a foot short.
Robbins, a major champion who hasn't won in more than four years, got under par for the first time all week with a two-putt birdie on the 18th hole. She was one of only three players to break par in the final round.
Stanford's putt was pure magic, reminiscent of Jenny Chuasiriporn holing from 45 feet in 1998 to get into the playoff with Pak.
''It was one of the coolest moments I've ever had on the golf course,'' Stanford said.
Sorenstam closed with a 2-over 73 and was at 284.
Aree Song, one of 14 teenagers at the U.S. Women's Open, birdied the final hole for a 74 that left her alone in fifth at 285. The 17-year-old Song was low amateur, and automatically earned a trip back next year.
Michelle Wie shot a 76 with a new caddie. Her father, B.J. Wie, turned the bag over to his 13-year-old daughter's swing coach for the final round, and perhaps for a while.
''I fired myself,'' the father said with a laugh. ''I caused too much trouble.''
Wie's first U.S. Women's Open was marred by a controversy over etiquette, resulting in allegations that Danielle Ammaccapane bumped her -- a claim B.J. Wie later retracted -- and that the 16-year veteran berated the ninth-grader in the scoring tent.
Even if Ammaccapane apologized, Wie said she wouldn't accept.
That mess should fade by the time Robbins, Stanford and Lunke tee off at 9 AM Monday, one more round on a Witch Hollow course that required nothing but the best golf under the most excruciating pressure.
A victory by Robbins, who won the '95 LPGA Championship, would give her the greatest comeback in U.S. Women's Open history. She started the final round six strokes behind.
''I'd like to say I'm surprised,'' she said. ''But being this kind of week, and what can happen out there, I knew if I could hang around even par, that things might be OK. I'm glad to be here.''
Stanford and Lunke get high marks for their finish given the circumstances.
Neither had contended in a major championship. Both watched Sorenstam hit great shots ahead of them and take a share of the lead. Then, they had to wait for what seemed like forever as Sorenstam got her ruling, took her drop and then fell apart.
Next up is Robbins, who has one of the sweetest swings in golf.
''We're giant beaters out here,'' Lunke said.
Lunke gave away her one-stroke lead quickly, making four bogeys in a five-hole stretch early in the round. An approach to two feet for birdie on the 11th gave her a two-shot lead, and then it was a matter of hanging on.
''I've always said my game was suited for a U.S. Open,'' Lunke said. ''And when I win my first LPGA event, I think it will be a U.S. Open.''
The last player to make her first LPGA victory a U.S. Women's Open was Sorenstam in 1995. She won't be around to find out if Lunke is the next one.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the U.S. Women's Open
  • U.S. Women's Open Leaderboard
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.