Shag Bag Blog Week 24

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Welcome to the Shag Bag, where the GolfChannel.com team and Golf Channel talent will regularly file thoughts and opinions from around the world of golf.
 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Christina Kim is the featured player wearing a microphone for Golf Channel's telecast today of the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Michelle Wie's in this marquee pairing.
 
And then there's Shanshan Feng. Who's Shanshan Feng? She's the third wheel threatening to steal the show with the best round of the trio. She's 4-under stepping to the 16th tee, two shots better than Wie and three better than Kim.
 
Feng is a second-year pro from China who earned her tour membership tying for ninth at LPGA qualifying school at the end of the '07 season. Her best LPGA finish is second place at last year's Bell Micro LPGA Classic.
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 11, 1:40 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Anna Nordqvist's stirring recovery at the 18th hole made her the early leader in the clubhouse Thursday in the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
 
The Swedish rookie, who turned 22 on Wednesday, pulled her 5-wood left and into the water at the finishing hole but rebounded by holing her pitch from 40 yards with a 58-degree wedge. That impressive par topped off a 6-under-par 66, her lowest round in her brief LPGA career. This is just the fifth start of her first season. She won limited tour status coming out qualifying school last winter.
 
'(The hole-out) gives me good momentum for tomorrow,' Nordqvist said.
 
Nordqvist said her golf career was inspired by Annika Sorenstam. Unfortunately, Nordqvist's rookie season comes with Sorenstam in her first year of retirement.
 
'I never had the opportunity to play with her,' Nordqvist said. 'Hopefully, someday I will.'
 
Nordqvist met Sorenstam when she won the Annika Sorenstam Award in '05, given annually to the 18-year-old Swedish standouts in both men's and women's golf.
 
'That was probably one of the biggest golf memories I have so far,' Nordqvist said.
 
Nordqvist's coach is Henri Reis, Sorenstam's long-time coach. Nordqvist was the Swedish Junior of the Year in 2004 and '05 and left Arizona State in the middle of her junior season to turn pro.
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 11, 12:57 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Rookie Anna Nordqvist, in just her fourth start this season, is off to a fast start with three consecutive birdies to close her front nine Thursday in the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
 
Nordqvist was the Swedish Junior of the Year in 2004 and '05. She played at Arizona State and was the National Golf Coaches Freshman of the Year in '07.
 
Paige Mackenzie, a fourth-year pro from the University of Washington, also is off to a quick start. She made three consecutive birdies after making the turn. Mackenzie tied for 13th as an amateur at the U.S. Women's Open in '05. They were both at 4-under early atop the leaderboard. Play started with a gray sky with rain chances moving to 50 percent in the afternoon.
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 11, 10:42 a.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Christina Kim will wear a microphone Thursday during Golf Channel's first round coverage of the McDonald's LPGA Championship. She'll be paired with Michelle Wie and Shanshan Feng. The telecast begins at 12:30 p.m. with a prime-time replay beginning at 7 p.m. Golf Central Pre Game begins at 11:30 a.m.
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 7:10 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Brittany Lincicome, winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, enters the year's second major with little fanfare.
 
Ladbrokes, the betting house, lists her as a 100-to-1 shot to win this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship.
 
Lincicome, 23, wasn't among the seven players brought into the LPGA media center for interviews Tuesday and Wednesday and isn't getting a lot of pre-tournament publicity, but the shot she hit into the 72nd hole to set up her winning eagle at the Kraft Nabisco will go down as one of the finest clutch shots ever hit to win a major.
 
Bulle Rock Golf Course is a long-hitter's course, and Lincicome's a long hitter. She tied for sixth at Bulle Rock two years ago.
 
Here's what Golf Channel analysts Dottie Pepper and Beth Daniel had to say about Lincicome's chances of winning back-to-back majors.
 
Pepper: 'I think her length certainly fits Bulle Rock very well. I think it was kind of an interesting comment her dad made after the Kraft event that she was just kind of made for majors. So I guess we're going to find out.
 
Daniel: 'There's no question and never has been a question that Brittany Lincicome has the talent. But the question with her has always been her work ethic. To be on top and stay on top, your work ethic has to be incredible. And that's always been the question with her.'
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 5:10 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Beth Daniel tries to be as inconspicuous as possible in her scouting. She jokes that when she's out on the course watching, American players eager to please her will wave from two fairways over. She suspects her presence adds pressure for players trying to make the team.
 
If that's true, the pressure ratchets up for three Americans Thursday in the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
 
Daniel, who does most of her TV work for the Golf Channel in a booth, will be out on the course as a roving reporter this week. She learned Wednesday that she is scheduled to follow Nicole Castrale, Paula Creamer and Kristy McPherson in the first round, all three Americans in the hunt for Solheim Cup spots. That assignment could change, depending on how the day unfolds.
 
'I made a decision last year not to go out and watch players play, like some of the past captains have done,' Daniel said last week in a teleconference promoting the Golf Channel's telecast. 'But it becomes a bit of an issue when I'm an on-course commentator. If you get a group, and I have Americans in that group, they have a tendency to get a little uptight with me walking down the fairway with them. Several of the players have discussed that with me. It's unfortunate they feel that way, but it also does give me a chance to be out there and see what's going on.'
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 4:30 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' The word battle is too loosely used to describe competition in sport.
 
At this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship, you wonder, though.
 
While LPGA pros played practice rounds Wednesday afternoon, bursts of what sounded like heavy artillery could be heard thundering from the horizon. It wasn't Suzann Pettersen or Sophie Gustafson hitting drivers. In fact, it was heavy guns at work.
 
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, an Army installation, is about two miles southwest of Bulle Rock Golf Course. Military personnel are trained there. Weapons and armor also are tested. Everything from hand guns to howitzers are used at the installation.
 
'Every gun put in the hands of an American soldier gets tested, every one, and a lot of them are tested here,' said George Mercer, the public affairs officer for Aberdeen Proving Ground.
 
Aberdeen Test Center officials sent out an alert that this whole week they have 'plans to conduct several large detonations which are likely to generate sound and/or vibration outside the installation boundaries.'
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 2:35 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Lorena Ochoa may be the No. 1 player in women's golf, but she isn't casting a dominant shadow over fellow players at Bulle Rock Golf Course at this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship.
 
Last week, Cristie Kerr spoke about her desire to take the No. 1 ranking. This week, Angela Stanford spoke about how this championship feels wide open, just like this season.
 
'Obviously, you can't overlook the No. 1 player in the world, Lorena,' Stanford said. 'The cool thing about our tour right now is that it's anybody's ballgame. Anybody can win. So that's what makes it so interesting right now.'
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 1:03 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Lorena Ochoa has some good vibes going this week with her regular caddie, Dave Brooker, back on her bag. He's been out since breaking a foot with other caddies in a soccer game on the eve of the final round of the Corona Championship six weeks ago.
 
'He finished a little bit tired after the pro-am (Tuesday), but we are happy to be back,' Ochoa said. 'It's a nice feeling because we know each other very well. It's important to have him next to me in the process of playing, with making decisions and supporting each other. He's very motivated, and we are ready to go.'
 
Ochoa has won twice this season, increasing her LPGA victory total to 26. She's looking to win her third career major with previous titles won at the Ricoh Women's British Open (2007) and Kraft Nabisco (2008). Though she has never won the McDonald's LPGA, she has five consecutive top-10 finishes in it.
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 1:03 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Mother Nature is conspiring to make Bulle Rock Golf Course play long for the power hitters this week at the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
 
With thunderstorms dropping more than 2 inches of rain Tuesday afternoon, the course is soft. Players say it feels even longer than the 6,641 yards accounted for on the scorecard.
 
Long-hitting Yani Tseng won a year ago. Long-hitting Suzann Pettersen won two years ago.
 
'The golf course has always been one of our longer stops on tour, just because of all the rain we get,' Paula Creamer said. 'The rough is so thick, which is great. I think it's the thickest it's ever been, especially around the greens. It makes it a premium on hitting fairways and greens.'
 
Tee shots aren't rolling out.
 
'It's playing a little bit longer than it has in past years,' Cristie Kerr said. 'I don't know about advantages. I guess the advantage goes to the person who is playing best.'
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 10:54 a.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' We heard Ian Poulter was twittering from the Game 3 of the NBA Championship tonight. Didn't see him though. He obviously did not have seats as prominent as Tiger Woods.
 
Speaking of the world's No.1, he showed little emotion during the entire game. And with 0.5 seconds remaining and the Magic up two points, Woods headed for the exit with his posse of three following closely behind.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted June 10, 12:19 a.m. ET

 

 

Tiger Woods watches his beloved L.A. Lakers fall to the Orlando Magic Tuesday, 108-104.

 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Tiger Woods is at Game 3 of the NBA finals here and has only stood up once from his plush court-side seats. And that was during pregame introductions where he remained standing for both teams.
 
Although he's a season ticket holder for the Orlando Magic, the California native said last week at the Memorial that he was partial to the L.A. Lakers.
 
So far at the end of the first quarter, he's basically been a statue and hasn't clapped once. Maybe he knows we are watching.
 
More than anything we wonder who the schlub is sitting next to him ' and if said schlub understands that he's sitting next to the guy who is going to win the U.S. Open next week.
 
Stay tuned.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted June 9, 9:33 p.m. ET

 

 
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Paula Creamer's determination to win her first major championship comes through in her devotion to hitting more fairways and greens. She arrives for the McDonald's LPGA Championship having dramatically improved this season in the percentage of greens she's hitting in regulation and in the percentage of fairways she's hitting.
 
Creamer is dominating the LPGA's greens in regulation stat, hitting a career best 81.1 percent. That's a staggering 5.5 percent better than the next best player, In Kyung Kim. It's 10 percent better than what Lorena Ochoa hit when she led the LPGA in that category a year ago.
 
Creamer's also at a career best 80.5 percent in fairways hit, ranking fifth best on tour.
 
'It goes back to something my dad put in my head, that you have to give yourself chances to make birdies,' Creamer said. 'Hitting greens and fairways, they're important stats to me.'
 
Creamer, 22, says she doesn't tire of being asked if she's ready to win her first major.
 
'I'm kind of used to it now,' she said. 'I feel like I'm a tough competitor, and I feel like it's about timing . . . I feel like I should have won majors. I think it's a learning experience and we'll see what happens.'
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 9, 6:43 p.m. ET

 

 
Lorena Ochoa, of course, is the favorite to win the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Ladbrokes has her at 4-to-1 odds. Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen are next with each listed at 10-to-1. Defending champion Yani Tseng, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford are each 12-to-1. Michelle Wie is 40-to-1. William Hill lists Wie at 25-to-1, better than its odds on Karrie Webb (33-to-1), Morgan Pressel (50-to-1) or Kraft Nabisco champion Brittany Lincicome (66-to-1).
 
' Randall Mell
Posted June 9, 9:21 a.m. ET

 

 
DUBLIN, Ohio ' Roger Federers victory at the French Open seemed to dovetail nicely with Tiger Woods come-from-behind Memorial show. The two are Nike stablemates and good friends who talked before Woods teed off on Sunday at Muirfield Village.
 
The two victories also featured similarly eerie moments. During his second set at Roland Garros Federer was charged by a fan who rushed onto the court. The fan was tackled by security and carried off.
 
Towards the end of Woods post-round interview at the Memorial an apparent member of the media stood to ask a question before reaching into his pocket for a guest pass that he wanted Woods and tournament host Jack Nicklaus to sign.
 
The man was escorted from the media center, but not before both Nicklaus and Woods signed his pass.
 
Got a little nervous when he reached into his pocket, Nicklaus said.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 8, 8:26 a.m. ET

 

 
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    Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.

    Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.

    After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.

    Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.

    Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.

    On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.

    The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.

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    Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:21 pm

    Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.

    Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.

    Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.

    Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:

    1. Dustin Johnson

    2. Brooks Koepka

    3. Justin Thomas

    4. Jordan Spieth

    5. Matt Kuchar

    6. Brian Harman

    7. Gary Woodland

    8. Rickie Fowler

    ---

    9. Chez Reavie

    10. Bubba Watson

    11. Phil Mickelson

    12. Patrick Reed


    On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:

    Ryder Cup Points

    1. Justin Rose

    2. Tyrrell Hatton

    3. Ross Fisher

    4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Tommy Fleetwood

    3. Sergio Garcia

    4. Rory McIlroy

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    Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.

    1 Bubba Watson -12 $1,296,000
    T2 Kevin Na -10 $633,600
    T2 Tony Finau -10 $633,600
    T4 Scott Stallings -9 $316,800
    T4 Patrick Cantlay -9 $316,800
    T6 Adam Hadwin -8 $241,200
    T6 Phil Mickelson -8 $241,200
    T6 Cameron Smith -8 $241,200
    T9 Jordan Spieth -7 $180,000
    T9 Martin Laird -7 $180,000
    T9 Xander Schauffele -7 $180,000
    T9 Ryan Moore -7 $180,000
    T9 Justin Thomas -7 $180,000
    T14 James Hahn -6 $133,200
    T14 Aaron Baddeley -6 $133,200
    T16 Alex Noren -4 $111,600
    T16 Sung-hoon Kang -4 $111,600
    T16 Dustin Johnson -4 $111,600
    T16 Derek Fathauer -4 $111,600
    T20 Rory McIlroy -3 $78,000
    T20 Bud Cauley -3 $78,000
    T20 Kevin Chappell -3 $78,000
    T20 Talor Gooch -3 $78,000
    T20 Jason Kokrak -3 $78,000
    T20 Vaughn Taylor -3 $78,000
    T26 John Huh -2 $46,996
    T26 Peter Uihlein -2 $46,996
    T26 Luke List -2 $46,996
    T26 Rafael Cabrera Bello -2 $46,996
    T26 Patrick Rodgers -2 $46,996
    T26 Jamie Lovemark -2 $46,996
    T26 Dominic Bozzelli -2 $46,996
    T26 Matt Kuchar -2 $46,996
    T26 Anirban Lahiri -2 $46,996
    T26 Sam Saunders -2 $46,996
    T26 Graeme McDowell -2 $46,996
    T37 Branden Grace -1 $33,120
    T37 Tommy Fleetwood -1 $33,120
    T37 Charles Howell III -1 $33,120
    T37 Luke Donald -1 $33,120
    T41 Bryson DeChambeau E $24,516
    T41 Troy Merritt E $24,516
    T41 Kevin Streelman E $24,516
    T41 Pat Perez E $24,516
    T41 Charley Hoffman E $24,516
    T41 Brandon Harkins E $24,516
    T41 Jonas Blixt E $24,516
    T41 Nick Taylor E $24,516
    T49 Austin Cook 1 $17,964
    T49 Brendan Steele 1 $17,964
    T49 Paul Casey 1 $17,964
    T49 Chad Campbell 1 $17,964
    T53 Tom Hoge 2 $16,437
    T53 Benjamin Silverman 2 $16,437
    T53 Li HaoTong 2 $16,437
    T53 Retief Goosen 2 $16,437
    T53 Martin Kaymer 2 $16,437
    T53 Adam Schenk 2 $16,437
    T53 Adam Scott 2 $16,437
    T60 Ryan Blaum 3 $15,696
    T60 J.B. Holmes 3 $15,696
    T60 Harold Varner, III 3 $15,696
    63 Kelly Kraft 4 $15,408
    T64 Padraig Harrington 5 $15,120
    T64 Ryan Armour 5 $15,120
    T64 Sean O'Hair 5 $15,120
    67 Martin Piller 6 $14,832
    T68 Thomas Pieters 7 $14,400
    T68 Greg Chalmers 7 $14,400
    T68 Abraham Ancer 7 $14,400
    T68 Tyrone van Aswegen 7 $14,400
    T68 Charl Schwartzel 7 $14,400
    T73 Vijay Singh 8 $13,896
    T73 Chez Reavie 8 $13,896
    T75 Sang-Moon Bae 10 $13,608
    T75 David Lingmerth 10 $13,608
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    After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.


    On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

    I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

    Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

    The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner


    On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

    After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

    Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

    The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray


    On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

    The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

    Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

    That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard


    On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

    The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.

    The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

    And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell