Meet the Rookie Class of 2002

By Martha BrendleDecember 11, 2001, 5:00 pm
Twenty-seven strong. This is the number of women who are now a part of the 2002 LPGA Tour rookie class. They range in age from 18 to 27 years old and have come from all corners of the world ' each with their own story.
Catherine Cartwright of Bonita Springs, Fla., made her way through the grueling LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament ' or Q-School as it has come to be known ' finishing in a tie for 31st. She is the youngest member - at 18 years old ' of the 27 rookies. Yet Cartwright ' who stands six feet tall - makes up in stature what she lacks in years. Natalie Gulbis, the second-youngest member of the 2002 Tour by two months, turns 18 in March. She was the youngest player in history to Monday qualify for an LPGA event (1997 Longs Drugs Challenge at the age of 14) and is the only American rookie to gain exempt status for 2002 season.
Diane Irvin of Los Angeles is on the other end of the age spectrum at 37 years old. She is the oldest rookie in the 2002 class. A graduate of UCLA, she practiced law from 1991-1995. But this winter, after earning non-exempt status, Irvin will be practicing her golf game.
Not all of the rookies were subject to the rigors of Q-School. Since 1999 the SBC Futures Tour has offered a free ticket past Q-School and directly onto the Tour to the top three season money winners. This year Beth Bauer, Angela Buzminski and Jung Yeon Lee of Seoul, Korea, were the lucky three.
Bauer has had an interesting, albeit bumpy, road to the LPGA Tour. The Duke University standout left school after two years, turned professional in August of 2001 and headed straight for Q-School. It was there that she learned just how hard playing professional golf would be. Bauer did not make her card and played on the Futures Tour in 2001 where she recorded four wins, finished first on the money list and set a single-season earnings record with $81,529 in earnings. I think not getting my card was a blessing in disguise, Bauer said. I dont know if I would have been as successful (playing) on the LPGA and I have gained tremendous confidence in my game, which is only going to make me a better player.
Buzminski automatically earned a Tour card by finishing second on the SBC Futures Tour. The 30-year-old will enjoy the status of being the only lefty on Tour in 2002.
Jung Yeon Lee rounded out the top three after barely edging out countrywoman Ju Yun Kim by a mere $211 in prize money. It was enough to avoid Q-School and go directly to the big league.
In all, there are three rookies from Seoul, Korea. Jung Yeon Lee, Ara Koh ' the 2000 Korean LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year - and Sun Hee Lee.
Korea is not the only Asian country to produce talented young players. Mayumi Nakajima of Nagano, Japan, finished eighth on the Futures Tour money list in 2001 and tied for 21st at Q-School - missing exempt status by a mere two shots. Shiho Katano of Tokyo, Japan, finished 13th in her third trip to Q-School. Candie Kung of Taiwan also joins the rookie class.
The Ladies European Tour (LET) is losing four-year player Anna Sanchez of Malaga, Spain. Sanchez showed her tenacity after surviving a five-way sudden-death playoff in stage two to advance to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament where she finished 31st to earn non-exempt status. Also switching sides of the Atlantic is Giulia Sergas of Triest, Italy ' the 2000 LET Bill Johnson Rookie of the Year ' as well as Jeanne-Marie Busuttil and Marine Monnet of Paris, France, Caroline Hall of Bristol, England, Marlene Hedblom of Gayle, Sweden, and JoAnne Mills of Sydney, Australia.
The third time was a charm for Elizabeth Bowman of Bonita, Cal. Three years ago Bowman missed her card by $154 ' this year she was medallist at the second stage. Bowman, a professional since 1993, ran away with the second sectional at Q-School in Rancho Mirage, Cal., by 10 shots. This was her fifth appearance at final Q-school and she finished with a final round of 68 to tie for 25th to earn non-exempt status.
Most people who subject themselves to the trials of Q-School know what they want. Their goals are clear. This was not the case of Hilary Homeyer of Edina, Minn. ' a four-time All-American at Stanford University. She wasnt sure if the wanted to pursue a pro golf career. But after tying for 31st in her first attempt at gaining a Tour card and earning non-exempt status - her choice was clear.
Stephanie Keever turned pro June 17th just days after playing in the U.S. Womens Open as an amateur graduate of Stanford and joins the 2002 rookie class with teammate Homeyer.
Others to earn non-exempt status were Nicole Dalkas, Miriam Nagl - who attended Arizona State for one year before joining the Futures Tour - Jill Gomric, a University of Arizona alumna and Clarissa Childs, who will be leaving her post as assistant golf coach at the University of South Carolina to join the 2002 LPGA Tour. Childs already has her first sponsor, South Carolina rock band Hootie and the Blowfish.
Twenty-seven womens dreams have come true. They will play on the LPGA Tour. In the coming year we shall see just what these women are made of. And the real question of whether there is another Laura Diaz or Karrie Webb in their midst will be revealed.
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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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.