Third Win for Webb Would Be Charming

By Martha BrendleJuly 1, 2002, 4:00 pm
Defending champion Karrie Webb will have to reach deep within herself in order to successfully defend her title this week. For nestled in a historically strong field is Swedens female golfing icon - Annika Sorenstam.
Sorenstam is the sure bet going into the U.S. Womens Open, being played for the first time at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., July 4-7.
Everything is all going my way, the very confident Sorenstam said after her win at the ShopRite Classic Sunday.
The Swede is the obvious spoilsport to Webbs dream of winning three consecutive USGA championships.
Confidence is something that Webb, No. 6 on the money list, currently struggles with as she battles the residuals of a swing change that has left her with a left-to-right fade.
Efforts to get the club in front of her have, thus far, left her behind this season. Yet Webb has a good Open track record on her side. In her six appearances, she has never missed a cut, has recorded two top-10 finishes (fourth in 1997 and seventh in 1999) and has two victories to her credit.

Sorenstams 2001 season performance (she set or tied 30 records) was a tough act to follow, and yet somehow the soft-spoken Swede has not disappointed. Armed with Kai Fusser, her latest and greatest personal trainer, and 'Vision 54' (18 birdies in a single round), Sorenstam has stormed through the first half of the year recording five victories and 10 top-five finishes in 11 starts. Sunday, she recorded a bogey-free final round 5-under-par 66, resulting in a three-stroke victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic ' her second victory in as many starts.
Her recent success is no accident. It is, in fact, part of a well-oiled plan - the culmination of fierce determination and relentless focus. I definitely feel that I am hitting better this year and what I mean by that is that I am more solid, and especially with my long irons, the No. 1 player in the world said. My drives, according to the stats, are 10 to 12 yards longer and the accuracy is good and I am up there in greens in regulations and I am also putting better. My scoring average is lower and I am better than last year so far this year.
Sorenstam has been working with Fusser for a mere seven months and is already seeing progress - although she thinks it will be more like a year-and-a-half until the full benefits of her new regime come to fruition.
Ive won a lot, and I love to win. I think with the more Ive won, I realize how much winning means to me. It never gets old. Actually, it makes me want more of it ' its an addictive feeling,' she said.
'I know there are more records I can break and I want to see how good I can be and I feel like all my hard work that Ive put in, Im now seeing the results and I know I have not reached my peak yet so Im going to push and push, and see how far I can go.'
The USGA will do its best to create perfect conditions for this years U.S. Womens Open. The worlds top 150 female players, professionals and amateurs alike, will face green speeds of 10 on the Stimpmeter, rough projected to be 3 inches deep and native tall grasses - all of which have the potential to wreak havoc with their games as they play the 6,293-yard, par-70 course. In addition, if wind at Prairie Dunes C.C. comes into play, errant shots will be severely penalized.
Prairie Dunes C.C. has an interesting history. The 18-hole course was built in two stages over a period of 20 years. Perry Maxwell designed the front nine which opened in 1937 and his son Press Maxwell designed the back nine, which opened in 1957.
Chip Shots:
There are two ways to tell the Wongluekiet twins apart this week. Naree has had her braces removed and will be watching golf from outside the ropes while Aree, still sporting her metallic smile, has qualified to play.
After finishing second at the ShopRite Classic Sunday, Julie Inkster made arrangements to spend Monday with her swing coach Mike McGetrick. Inkster, who won the 1999 Open at Old Waverly G.C., also won the first of three consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur titles at Prairie Dunes in 1980.
Amateur Stacy Prammanasudh of Tulsa, Okla., has Annika Sorenstam to thank for making it into the field. Prammanasudh qualified after Sorenstam won the ShopRite title.
Full Field for the U.S. Women's Open
Tee Times
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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."