Historic test awaits women at Pinehurst No. 2

By Randall MellJune 16, 2014, 11:50 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – The stage belongs to the women now.

In this historic experiment with the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open being played in back-to-back weeks for the first time on the same venue, the men have exited, leaving Pinehurst No. 2 to the women in Monday’s practice rounds.

Sunday’s transition was highly visible with the women’s arrival.

Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, Lydia Ko, Sandra Gal, Brittany Lincicome and Katherine Kirk were among dozens of women who walked inside the ropes following the men in Sunday’s U.S. Open final round.

While there was some scattered grumbling among men and their caddies over the timing of the women’s arrival, with the most important moments of the U.S. Open unfolding, the scene was heartwarming for fans of the women’s game. The images brought home the historic nature of the championships.

“I thought the women’s arrival was awesome,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “It was terrific.”

Davis knows he wasn’t alone thinking that. He was walking with Martin Kaymer and Rickie Fowler in the final pairing with a handful of LPGA pros following inside the ropes.

“Martin and Rickie both told me they thought it was the neatest thing,” Davis said. “It was funny, because Rickie knew some of the women pros, and he’s chit-chatting with them. I said, `Hey Rickie, this is the final round of the U.S. Open. You need to focus.’”

Davis was joking, but Kaymer and Fowler both applauded the women’s high-profile arrivals.

“I did like it,” Kaymer said after his eight-shot runaway victory. “Some of them are very pretty. I’m sure a lot of guys out here enjoyed the view as much as we did.”

U.S. Women’s Open: Articles, videos and photos

Rory McIlroy gave Yani Tseng a hug when she arrived on the range Sunday. Their reigns as world No. 1s overlapped. Sergio Garcia gave Ko a hug.

“It's cool to run into the girls,” McIlroy said. “I would like to see it happen more often. I think it's a good thing for women's golf to give them a little bit more exposure. Even though they get to play some of the best courses in the world, I'm going to tune in on and watch next week just to see how they get on around here and see how they fare.”

Danielle Kang, the two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, got some extra help from Dustin Johnson. Kang is friends with Johnson’s fiancée, Paulina Gretzky, daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky. Kang had dinner with Dustin and Paulina Saturday night in Pinehurst.

“Dustin gave me a hole-by-hole breakdown, where to miss and where not to miss at the different holes,” Kang said. “He told me it would probably be easier after I saw the course and then talked to him. So I’m probably going to talk to him later today.”

Johnson did more than give Kang advice. He gave her his yardage book.

“I like to play as aggressively as he likes to play with my ball-striking, but he told me how you can save shots and that you really need to let the birdies come to you here.”

The women got their first chance to play Pinehurst No. 2 in practice rounds on Monday. While Sunday’s setup for the men’s finish was severe, any women concerned they would be greeted with a harsh, burned-up test were pleasantly surprised.

The USGA had Pinehurst’s grounds staff water the greens for 12 minutes on Sunday night, in cycles of three to four minutes spread over two hours.

“We came back this morning, and we were very happy with the where the course is,” said Ben Kimball, championship director of the U.S. Women’s Open. “We are thrilled where we are going into the rest of the week. We don’t think we were at any point on the edge during the U.S. Open to where we didn’t think we could get the course ready for the U.S. Women’s Open.”

Kimball said women can expect consistent conditions through the week with the possibility the weekend gets firmer and faster.

“It was soft today,” Azahara Munoz said. “We were stopping balls.”

Kang played 18 holes Monday with Johnson’s yardage book.

“I actually thought the course was in tremendous shape,” Kang said. “I’m not saying that just to say that.”

Rolex world No. 1 Stacy Lewis played nine holes on Monday.

“It was playing harder when I came here three weeks ago to play the course,” Lewis said. “The greens are definitely softer than they were then.”

Lewis said the fairways are still firm and fast and could be an issue if they get any quicker.

The U.S. Open was played at 7,562 yards on the scorecard. The U.S. Women’s Open will be played more than 900 yards shorter, at 6,649 yards on the scorecard. The course was set up almost all the way back in Monday’s practice. 

“It’s a long golf course,” said Scott Thompson, Lexi Thompson’s father.

Lexi is the LPGA’s biggest hitter, leading the tour in driving distance at over 275 yards per drive, and yet Scott said she hit 4-iron Monday into the 16th green, a 458-yard par 4.

“It wasn’t the only 4-iron she hit today,” Scott said.

Julieta Granada hit a 3-wood into the 11th hole, a 447-yard par 4. With the turtle-back greens here, it’s a lot to ask to hold fairway woods into them.

“It’s going to favor a high ball into these greens,” Lewis said.

Munoz played 15 holes Monday.

“Visually, it’s very open off the tee, I really, really like that,” Munoz said. “Obviously, the shots to the green are really, really tough, but I like that, too. You have to hit your targets. It’s the same for everyone.”

It’s going to be the same historic test for all the women.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.