Which American is best suited to be No 1

By Randall MellApril 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. ' Fifteen years have passed since an American has towered atop womens golf.
 
Its been that long since Beth Daniel won LPGA Player of the Year honors.
 
No American has laid claim to the honors since.
 
Whos best positioned to end the drought?
 
Michelle Wie at the SBS Open
Michelle Wie is hoping to one day become the No. 1-ranked woman in the world. (Getty Images)
Three years ago, with Michelle Wie lining up a putt to get into a playoff with Karrie Webb and Lorena Ochoa at the 72nd hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wie looked as if eventually she would be best suited for the part despite the fact that she was just 16 years old.
 
After two trying seasons battling wrist injuries and the damage it did to her swing, Wie tees it up Thursday in the LPGAs first major championship of the year no longer the favorite to ascend to the top of the American ranks.
 
She goes off in the Kraft Nabisco looking to regain the positive momentum lost in two miserable seasons.
 
As a teenager, at about 14 years old, I dont think, male or female, anyone had ever seen a golfer with so much potential, so many possibilities, Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said. Now, in one way, shes still a standout, because shes done some extraordinary things, but in another way, shes just one of the crowd. So, theres that pressure of breaking out again.
 
I dont think shes thinking about any of those things, though. I have to think shes just thinking about winning.
 
If Wie, 19, is going to break out on a big stage, Mission Hills Country Clubs Dinah Shore Tournament Course makes sense as that stage.
 
At 13, playing the Kraft Nabisco for the first time, Wie shot 66 in the third round and earned a spot in the final Sunday pairing.
 
At 14, she finished fourth here.
 
At 16, after missing out on that playoff, she tied for third.
 
I feel comfortable here, she said.
 
David Leadbetter, Wies swing coach, has Wie focusing on the rhythm of her swing this week.
 
While Wies obsession with taking on men has benefited her game, Leadbetter said theres been a downside to crossing over.
 
Leadbetter said playing long PGA Tour tracks, alongside long-hitting PGA Tour pros, Wie can get caught up going harder and harder at shots.
 
You can tie it into when all the problems started, as she started going at it harder and harder, Leadbetter said. Before she broke her wrist, she had some tendonitis problems. If you are going at it 120 percent, there are going to be some things that suffer.
 
Wies once beautiful rhythm goes awry when she swings too hard.
 
For the most part, shes in better positions than she was when she was 15 and 16, so shes really getting back there, Leadbetter said. But the rhythm is still a little bit of an issue, day in and day out. She gets going at it pretty hard. When she can find that consistent flow to her swing that she has when shes playing so well, I think she can get right back.
 
Rankin noticed Wies struggle to find her rhythm in those bad times.
 
As a young player, she had the most beautiful, flowing golf swing, Rankin said. It was longer, and more full. It had a perfect rhythm to it.
 
I thought the shortening and tightening up of her swing was something David was trying to do with her. It was my impression that changed her rhythm. Any time you change the length of a golf swing, its hard to maintain your natural rhythm. I thought the last couple years thats what was going on. I know right now, her swing doesnt seem as abbreviated as a year ago. Maybe it was a process, but what David says makes a lot of sense.
 
Leadbetter likes the improvement hes seeing.
 
When Michelle is in full flight, shes a great sight to behold, and shes going to be great for the LPGA, Leadbetter said.
 
In the battle to be the top American, Wie faces some strong challengers. Shes fallen to 81st in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings.
 
Paula Creamers the highest ranked American in the world at No. 4 and despite battling intestinal problems is highly motivated to claim her first major this week. An eight-time LPGA winner, shes just 22.
 
Angela Stanford is No. 6 in the world and the hottest American, winner of three of her last 10 starts. Shes 31.
 
Cristie Kerr is No. 7 in the world and an 11-time LPGA winner. Shes also 31 and appears to be warming to her best form with no worse than an 11th place finish in four of her five starts this season. Shes the last American to win a major.
 
Morgan Pressel, 20, has slipped to 29th in the world but is feeling good about her new swing changes, especially on a course that holds so many good memories for her. She won the Kraft Nabisco just two years ago.
 
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  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.