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.


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


“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.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''