Saiki Seeks Rare Repeat in New York

By Lpga Tour MediaJune 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Kim Saiki waited more than 38 years for her first LPGA victory, and now less than 12 months later, she returns to the Wegmans Rochester LPGA at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., as defending champion. Saiki, who last year became the second-oldest Rolex First-Time Winner at the age of 38 years, 5 months and 3 days old, is hoping to recapture the magic she found last summer when she carded four rounds under par to become the only the fourth first-time winner in the event's 28-year history.
 
Another win for Saiki would put her in elite company, as only LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame members Nancy Lopez (1980-81) and Patty Sheehan (1989-90) have successfully defended their titles at the Wegmans Rochester LPGA. She could also become only the fourth player in LPGA Tour history to win her first and second LPGA titles at the same event in back-to-back years (Danielle Ammaccapane, Standard Register PING, 1991-92; Lisa Walters, Itoki Hawaiian Ladies Open, 1992-93; and Dorothy Delasin, Giant Eagle LPGA Classic 2000-01).
 
But between Saiki and those obscure notations, not to mention the $225,000 first-place paycheck, are numerous past champions looking to recreate some championship memories of their own. Laura Davies, who has been playing very strong as of late with three-consecutive top-10 finishes, won the Wegmans Rochester LPGA in 2001 and tied for seventh last year. Rosie Jones, one of four players to win the tournament multiple times, captured titles in here in 1991 and 1998 and is looking for her sixth top-10 finish in 2005, which she has said will be her last full season on Tour. Other past champions in the field include Deb Richard (1987), Penny Hammel (1997) and Rachel Hetherington (2003).
 
The Wegmans Rochester LPGA field is also chock full of 2005 tournament winners looking to ensure Annika Sorenstam isn't the only player to win more than one event this season. Rolex First-Time Winners Paula Creamer, Jimin Kang and Stacy Prammanasudh will be looking for their second career victories, while 2005 champions and Tour stars Cristie Kerr, Jennifer Rosales and Wendy Ward are also hoping for another win this year.
 
At last year's event, Saiki came into the week 77th on the ADT Official Money list and with nothing better than a tie for 21st on her performance chart for the season. But after carding rounds of 66-69-68, Saiki entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Jones and a good chance at her first career title.
 
Saiki suffered a potentially disastrous double-bogey on the second hole to jeopardize her chances, and the twosome of Saiki and Jones traded the lead eight times throughout the final round. But Saiki's 7-footer for birdie on the 14th hole, the second-most difficult of the week, against Jones' double-bogey gave the California native a comfortable cushion for the remainder of the round. Her final-round 71 was enough for a four-shot victory, ending a 272-event winless streak and taking her to 14th on the ADT Official Money List.
 
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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



    FALLING

    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”