Blackwolf Run will be stern test for U.S. Women's Open

By Randall MellJuly 3, 2012, 1:00 pm

KOHLER, Wis. – Meg Mallon remembers crossing paths with architect Pete Dye after playing his Blackwolf Run design at the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998.

Mallon opened the championship with a nightmarish quintuple-bogey 9.

She shot 77-76 and missed the cut.

“Pete Dye comes up to me at a dinner function there,” Mallon said. “And he says, 'Meg, if I would have taken a 9 on the first hole, I would have shot myself.’”

Mallon didn’t miss a beat.

“Actually, Pete,” she said. “I was thinking about shooting you.”

Full coverage: U.S. Women's Open

The U.S. Women’s Open makes its return to Blackwolf Run this week. While Dye and Blackwolf Run owner Herb Kohler survived without bullet-proof vests in ‘98, there were lots of casualties, figuratively.

An image remains seared into the memories of folks who were sitting around the 18th hole on the Friday of that U.S. Women’s Open.

Players don’t normally declare a winner halfway through the championship, but they did that year.

Nancy Lopez and Jane Geddes joined Mallon marching to the 18th hole while waving towels like white flags at the end of their putters. They all missed the cut, but it might be the defining image of the championship.

Yes, Se Ri Pak claimed the U.S. Women’s Open trophy that year, but Blackwolf Run was the winner.

That course whipped everyone.

“It was a surrender,” Mallon said of the white flags. “It was a spontaneous thing. It was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been playing golf, and we were just exhausted. We decided we had to do something.”

Pak prevailed in a playoff despite posting weekend scores of 75-76.

How many major championship winners claimed their titles playing the weekend in 9 over par?

Pak got into a playoff with Jenny Chuasiriporn with a 6-over-par total.

That remains the highest 72-hole score of a winner in a women’s major in 36 years.

The week was the women’s version of the Massacre at Winged Foot.

“I remember some of the player reactions after Jenny Chuasiriporn made that long putt at the 72nd hole to force a playoff,” Mallon said. “It was, `Oh my God, they have to play that course again.’”

As picturesque as it is wicked, Blackwolf Run is golf’s Enchanted Forest.

There is magic there, as Pak proved inspiring an entire nation of future South Koreans with her victory. There just might be some black magic there, too. This is a golf course that broke the hearts and wills of the game’s toughest players.

“I was afraid of the golf course,” Lopez says today. “It intimidated me.”

This was back when Lopez was still a factor in majors, just a year after she finished runner-up to Alison Nicholas in the U.S. Women’s Open. Lopez, though, arrived at Blackwolf Run knowing she was nearing a last chance to win her first U.S. Women’s Open.

David Albrecht, the head professional at Blackwolf Run, was there at the 18th watching Lopez wave her white towel.

“Nancy Lopez was definitely the crowd favorite,” Albrecht said. “She is such a sweet lady. She came in early for practice rounds, and she was so nice to everyone who reached out to her. She was like Arnold Palmer that way. So many people were there wanting to see her win. So, it was somewhat sad to see her miss the cut.”

Lopez can laugh now about how tough Blackwolf Run was.

At that first hole in ’98, while watching Mallon try to blast her way out of the forest, Lopez’s caddie could see some angst on Lopez’s face.

“Can I get you something?” he asked her.

“Two valium,” Lopez answered.

How tough was the course? Dottie Pepper said she cried in a shower after one round, and she ended up tying for 11th.

Kohler is confident Dye’s design will test skill as well as temperament again this week.

“I was intrigued by a man that could mess with the minds of the professional, get them agitated, and get them off their game just a little bit.” Kohler said.

The course will play this week to 6,984 yards, more than 500 yards longer than it played in ’98.

While it won’t be the longest U.S. Women’s Open venue in history, it will be the longest played at sea level. The Broadmoor in Colorado played to a record 7,047 yards last year, but the high altitude didn’t made it feel shorter.

The USGA is cutting the women a break this time around Blackwolf Run. It will play as a par 72 instead of a par 71. The seventh hole will play as it was naturally designed, as a par 5 instead of a par 4.

That doesn’t mean the test won’t still be fierce. Kohler ordered a renovation of Blackwolf Run’s grasses in 2009 and ‘10. With new A4 bentgrass on the greens and Memorial bentgrass on the fairways, the course can play a lot firmer and faster, given Mother Nature’s cooperation.

“This will definitely be the toughest test of the women’s year,” said the USGA’s Ben Kimball, director of the U.S. Women’s Open.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

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Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: