Choi takes command of U.S. Women's Open

By Randall MellJuly 8, 2012, 12:52 am

KOHLER, Wis. – South Koreans could not look any more comfortable in this U.S. Women's Open if it were played in Seoul.

Na Yeon Choi blistered Blackwolf Run Saturday with a 7-under-par 65 to position herself for a runaway victory.

If she holds on, Choi will be the fourth South Korean to win the U.S. Women’s Open in the last five years, the sixth since 1998, when Se Ri Pak launched this South Korean golf phenomenon with her victory here. If Choi wins, South Koreans will have claimed both of the U.S. Women’s Opens played at Blackwolf Run.

This place is practically sacred ground for South Koreans.

“This is a very special golf course, and I’m very honored,” Choi said of leading at Blackwolf Run. “Not just me, but I think all the South Koreans feel honored to be playing here this week.”

At 8 under overall, Choi has built a six-shot lead. How formidable is that? Nobody has ever come from more than five shots back in the final round to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

Choi is six shots ahead of fellow South Korean Amy Yang and seven ahead of American Lexi Thompson, Germany’s Sandra Gal and Japan’s Mika Miyazato.

How good was Choi’s round?

Only four players have posted better rounds in the 67-year history of the U.S. Women’s Open.

Choi didn’t carve up a cupcake course, either. Blackwolf Run was set up to be considerably tougher in the third round than it was all week. Plus, there was more wind than in any other round with gusts to 25 mph.

The third-round scoring average was 76.89, the highest this week. That’s unusual as scoring averages typically plummet after the cut is made.

Choi was one of just five players to break par Saturday, and she was four shots better than Yang, who posted the day’s next best score.

Nineteen players couldn’t break 80.

“It was pretty crazy, that 65,” said Michelle Wie, who started the day one shot back but begins Sunday 10 back after posting a 78.

Suzann Pettersen, the 36-hole leader, also shot 78.

Of the last 28 players off in the third round, Choi is the only player who broke par. She made eight birdies and a bogey.

The USGA’s Ben Kimball, who is in charge of course setup, shook his head when asked if he could envision somebody shooting 65 with Saturday’s setup and conditions.

“No way,” Kimball said. “What an unbelievable round.”

Kimball didn’t think anyone would even shoot in the 60s.

“Na Yeon just played her heart out today,” Kimball said.

Fellow players couldn’t believe what they were seeing with Choi’s red number growing larger and larger all day.

“Na Yeon beat the field by about 12 shots today,” said Cristie Kerr (77). “That’s pretty remarkable.”

Choi, 24, is yet another of “Se Ri’s kids.” Choi didn’t yet play golf when she got up in the middle of the night to watch Pak win the U.S. Women’s Open on South Korean television in ’98.

“All the golfers in South Korea, we call Se Ri `The Legend,’” Choi said.

It should come as no surprise that Choi leads this U.S. Women Open. She is the best women’s player who hasn’t won a major. She’s a five-time LPGA winner with seven KLPGA titles. She was the LPGA’s leading money winner in 2010, when she also won the tour’s Vare Trophy for low scoring average. She was No. 2 in the world most of last year and ranks No. 5 now.

Choi goes by the nickname “The Big Apple,” because of her NYC initials. She’s a soft-spoken but well spoken player who takes a ton of confidence into Sunday.

“I was very surprised,” Choi said of her score. “The main thing, I wasn't nervous on the course. I'm more nervous right now. But on the course I wasn't nervous. I had a great time out there.”

South Koreans are poised to have a great time watching another one of their players win the world’s most prestigious women’s golf championship.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 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 current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry