In an Olympic year, U.S. women are getting torched

By Randall MellApril 24, 2016, 3:50 am

DALY CITY, Calif. – Gerina Piller is the great American hope Sunday at the Swinging Skirts Classic.

Five shots behind Haru Nomura, Piller faces steep odds, but she is the only U.S. player with a legitimate chance going into the final round, the only American among the top nine at Lake Merced Golf Club.

It’s been a tough start to the year for the United States in women’s golf.

In nine events this season, Lexi Thompson is the only American to win an LPGA title.

American Katie Burnett made a strong run at winning the Lotte Championship last Sunday in Hawaii, but she couldn’t hold off Australian Minjee Lee’s back-nine charge. Really, Stacy Lewis is the only other American besides Thompson to even have a chance to win this season. Lewis finished second to Hyo Joo Kim at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. Thompson, by the way, also contended at the ANA Inspiration.

What’s the big deal? Why does it matter so much?

The American struggle is significant because there has probably never been a year in women’s golf where nationalistic pride has been so front and center. That’s because an Olympic gold medal is being offered as a prize this summer for the first time in the history of the women’s game. Yes, the first time. When Margaret Abbott won first place in Paris in 1900, the first time golf was played in the Olympics, she didn’t win a gold medal. She won a porcelain bowl. It was actually the first year women were allowed to compete in any Olympic sport, but according to Olympic historian Paula Welch, Abbott didn’t even know she was competing in the Olympics. The competition was so loosely organized, the participants thought they were playing in an exhibition sideshow to the world’s fair. Women’s golf was dropped from the Olympics after that first year, with only the men going on to play golf in 1904, the last staging of golf as an Olympic sport before its return this year.

Full-field scores from the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic

So who’s going to claim the first Olympic gold medal?

It’s a huge prize for the Koreans, and they seem hell bent to make the honor their own.

The competition to make the team is of such intense interest in South Korea, it’s creating all kinds of pressure on the South Koreans trying to make the team.

“That is driving me crazy,” So Yeon Ryu confided this week.

All those South Korean fans who love women’s golf aren’t hoping one of their own takes home gold. They’re expecting them to do so.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure to win it,” Na Yeon Choi said.

Sei Young Kim was among that big wave of South Koreans who came through LPGA Q-School before last season specifically with the Olympics in mind, specifically to try to rack up the abundance of Olympic qualifying points that are more available to LPGA pros than to pros on any other women’s tour in the world.

“A gold medal would be bigger than winning a major,” Kim said.

You don’t get the sense Olympic glory is driving American women in the same crazy way it’s driving the South Koreans, Japanese and other international players.

The Americans roared to the finish line late last year. Piller led that historic American comeback victory at the Solheim Cup in September, and Americans won four of the last nine LPGA events staged last season. But there’s been no American answer to the bell signifying the calendar’s turn to an Olympic year.

This week’s release of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings came with disappointment for fans of American women’s golf.

For the first time since Olympic qualifying began in golf, there are just two American women in the top 15 of the world rankings. That means if the Olympics were staged today, Thompson and Lewis would be the only American women playing.

According to Olympic rules, a country is allowed a maximum of four qualifiers, provided all four are among the top 15 in the Rolex rankings. Only Thompson at No. 3 and Lewis at No. 4 are among the top 15 this week.

How much have Americans slipped in the Olympic quest?

When Olympic qualifying began on July 14, 2014, there were eight American women among the top 15 of the Rolex world rankings, which are used for Olympic qualifying. Lewis, Thompson, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Lizette Salas and Jessica Korda were all among the top 15 that first week.

The Americans have time to mount some momentum in the run-up to Olympic gold, with qualifying closing on July 11, but time’s getting shorter.

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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.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

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Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm