Women's Open spotlights rising star in Park

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2017, 1:37 am

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – This U.S. Women’s Open looked as if it were going to be pulled apart at the seams at week’s start.

With players caught in the middle of a tug of war between social activists enraged that the championship was being played on a course owned by President Donald Trump and with the USGA committed to defending its turf, the championship practically groaned amid the strain before the first shots were struck.

This U.S. Women’s Open was so divisively configured, but that’s what made Sunday’s ending so surprisingly unifying.

So jarringly harmonious.

With South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park being whisked through a passageway to scoring after virtually sealing her victory, she looked up to see the last extraordinary scene in this surreal week.

Park looked above to see President Trump leap out of his seat in his private box to race to the window above her. She looked up to see the President of the United States in his bright red “Make America Great Again” cap enthusiastically applaud her and wave to her with a wide, approving smile.

The president may love America, but he loves golf, too.

And as infuriating as that may be to the activists lined up against, him, he loves women’s golf.

So President Trump stood like everyone else, cheered like everyone else, and let Park know how much he admired the way this rising new international star dissected his prized course with her flawless finish.


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“Congratulations to Sung Hyun Park on winning the 2017 @USGA #USWomensOpen,” he later tweeted.

Park beamed with the Harton S. Semple Trophy afterward.

“I still cannot believe that it is actually happening,” Park said through a translator. “I almost feel like I'm floating on a cloud in the sky.”

Park was grateful for the way the American galleries at Trump National embraced her.

“I recognize the fans who flew in from Korea to cheer me at this tournament, and also the great Americans who live around here, they were so gracious and hospitable, providing me Korean food day after day so I could nourish myself and gain strength,” Park said through a translator. “I also like to thank my fans here in the United States.”

Park, 23, is already a superstar in South Korea, where she dominated the Korean LPGA Tour before joining the American-based tour this year as a rookie.

Now Park looks poised to challenge for the Rolex world No. 1 ranking with the top of the women’s game looking so wide open.

With her breakthrough victory Sunday, making her first LPGA title a major championship, Park will crack back into the top 10 in the world rankings. She started the week at No. 11.

Park has so many nicknames, all tributes to her star power.

Back in South Korea, she is known as “Dak Gong,” which is roughly translated as “Shut up and attack!”

Park did just that on Sunday, posting a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 to come from three shots back to win.

At 11 under overall, Park finished two shots ahead of 17-year-old amateur Hye-Jin Choi (71), who shared the lead with Park until pushing her tee shot at the 16th into the water.

Park knows Choi’s pain, but she knows sweet redemption, too.

Needing a birdie at CordeValle to get into a playoff at the U.S. Women’s Open last year, Park pulled her approach into the water at the 72nd hole in a bid to reach the green in two. She ended up tying for third.

Park said that memory came rushing back at the 18th Sunday, where Trump National’s closing green is hugged by water.

“That was a good experience that I had last year, and I was able to garner the championship this year,” Park said.

Park’s other nickname in South Korea is “Namdalla,” which means “I’m different.”

American LPGA players could see that right off, but they have come up with their own nickname for her here.

“Her nickname is Tiger Woods on this tour,” said David Jones, Park’s caddie. “That kind of says it all. I don’t need to say more than that.”

Jones, notably, was the college roommate of Ricky Elliott, Brooks Koepka’s caddie. Koepka won the U.S. Open last month.

If Park was going to become a Tiger-like figure of the LPGA, Jones knew she needed to put in some serious work on her short game. She did coming into this week, and, wow, did it pay off.

Jones said Park didn’t win the U.S. Women’s Open with her 67 Sunday. He said she won it with her 73 on Thursday.

“She was playing as bad as I have ever seen her,” Jones said. “She was nothing short of horrendous, but she turned a 77 into a 73.”

Jones said she did it with all the work she put into her short game coming into the U.S. Women’s Open.

Park is her own coach, and Jones said she fixed her own short game prepping for this championship.

While Park is a power player, one of the longest hitters on tour, Jones said she won the U.S. Women’s Open with that fortified new short game.

“Her chipping was out of this world,” Jones said.

Park left Trump National showered with the cheers of golf fans here.

She left with President Trump cheering her as heartily as anyone else.

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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