Stage is set for dramatic Sunday at U.S. Women's Open

By Randall MellJune 22, 2014, 12:05 am

PINEHURST, N.C. – Call them drama queens.

With so much curiosity surrounding how the men and women would compare with the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open being played for the first time in back-to-back weeks on the same venue, the women are distinguishing themselves in a way the men couldn’t.

The women seem determined to deliver all the drama the men did not in the closing scene of this historic experiment.

A week after Martin Kaymer ran away with an eight-shot victory, there’s more than one intriguing possibility looming for the women’s finish.

Can Michelle Wie turn a share of the 54-hole lead into the most important victory of her resurgent career?

Can Amy Yang tighten South Korea’s chokehold on this championship and give her homeland its sixth U.S. Women’s Open title in seven years?

Can Australian 18-year-old Minjee Lee become the youngest player ever to win a major championship and the first amateur to win the U.S. Women’s Open since Catherine Lacoste in 1967?

Can 53-year-old Juli Inkster deliver the most improbable storyline of all and win the U.S. Women’s Open in her 35th and final appearance?

Fasten your seatbelts, this Sunday finish looks like it’s going to be a wild ride.

It looks like it might be more about who isn’t going to beat themselves than it is who’s going to win.

Wie, 24, started the day with a three-shot lead and looked like she might have a chance to Kaymer the field as she pulled away from Lexi Thompson early in their final pairing, but Wie stumbled coming home, playing the final eight holes in 4 over par.

Fighting to post a 2-over-par 72, Wie will start Sunday tied for the lead with Amy Yang (68).

At 2-under-par 208, they’re four shots ahead of Inkster, whose 66 was the day’s low round, and Lee (72). Also four back are Na Yeon Choi (71), who is bidding to win her second U.S. Women’s Open in three years, and Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow (69), who is playing in just her second U.S. Women’s Open.

“I'm happy that I'm in contention,” Wie said. “I'm just really grateful for another opportunity to get a major championship.”

This will mark the third time Wie takes a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open. She first did so in 2005 at Cherry Hills when she was 15 but ended up tying for 23rd. She did so again in ’06 at Newport Country Club but fell short tying for third.

Wie also took a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April but got beat by Thompson in their final-round duel.

Through all her struggles, all the adversity and the slumps, Wie never quit imagining the chance she is giving herself Sunday. She said she has been imaging it since she was that precocious teen who stormed the women’s game with all that promise.

“This is exactly where I wanted to be,” Wie said. “That's why I work hard. I want to be in positions like this. I want to be in the final pairing of the U.S. Open, and it's just great.

“When I was 15 and 16, the troubles that I came into when I was younger, I tried to plan my life, and a lot of times things don't happen the way they should, or the way they should in my mind,” Wie said. “So I'm just kind of going out there, living it day by day. Just a lot of fun when hard work pays off.”

Wie will play with Yang, 24, who is trying to give the South Koreans their fourth U.S. Women’s Open title in a row, their sixth in the last seven years. Yang won the HanaBank Championship last year for her first LPGA title, but her major championship record makes her look poised for a breakthrough on the game’s largest stage. Yang has six finishes of T-5 or better in majors. She was runner up when Choi won the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run two years ago.

What did she learn in her close calls?

“I’m still working on it, but I'm much better at controlling my emotion and controlling the nervous feeling,” Yang said.

Lee is trying to make history surpassing Morgan Pressel as the youngest winner of a major. Lee is 18 years and 24 days old. Pressel was 18 years and 10 months old when she won the Kraft Nabisco in ’07.

Lee, the Aussie born of Korean parents, won the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2012. She’s No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. She nearly won the Australian Ladies Masters earlier this year, finishing second to Cheyenne Woods in the Ladies European Tour event.

“I’ve been in this position, but not in a big tournament,” Lee said. “It’s going to be different, and I’m just going to try my best.”

Inkster has been in this position countless times as a seven-time major championship winner with two U.S. Women’s Open titles to her credit. If she wins at 53, she will surpass Fay Crocker as the oldest woman to win a major. Crocker was 45 when she won the Titleholders in 1960. Babe Zaharias is the oldest woman to win the U.S. Women’s Open. She was 43 when she won it in 1954.

Can she pull it off?

“You can dream all you want, but the bottom line is you've got to come out and make the shots,” Inkster said. “So, tomorrow, I've got to come out and make the shots. And if I'm tied for the lead coming up 18, then maybe I'll think about it.”

Inkster? Wie? Yang? Lee? Or somebody else?

Pick your drama queen, because Sunday is loaded with dramatic possibilities.

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 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.