Yani's year

By Randall MellNovember 25, 2011, 2:49 pm

Yani Tseng’s shadow moved over Suzann Pettersen.

You could not see it, but you could feel it with Pettersen assessing her year going into the season-ending CME Group Titleholders Championship in Orlando, Fla., last week.

Pettersen won three times in 2011, twice in LPGA events and once on the Ladies European Tour. She’s No. 2 in the Rolex World Rankings. She was a Solheim Cup star, helping the Euros win for the first time in eight years.

Still, there was no escaping Tseng’s towering presence in Pettersen’s final evaluation.

“It’s been a very nice year, but when Yani has won seven events, it makes you feel not so great,” Pettersen said.

Tseng’s shadow fell over the entire women’s game with her rise as its dominant, new force. With 11 worldwide titles, the seven LPGA titles, including two majors, Tseng separated herself from the pack that was battling to succeed the retired Lorena Ochoa as the game’s best female player.

There were other highlights in 2011, of course:

• The Europeans didn’t just win the Solheim Cup, they transformed it. They made it matter more than it’s ever mattered with their dramatic late charge to upset the Americans at Killeen Castle in Ireland. Pettersen, Caroline Hedwall and Azahara Munoz engineered late comebacks that made for the most exciting final 30 minutes in Solheim Cup history. The Euro victory was the continent’s first since 2003.

• American Stacy Lewis broke through to make her first LPGA title a major championship, staring down Tseng in a final-round pairing to win the Kraft Nabisco in March.

• Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner in LPGA history, claiming the Navistar Classic in September at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old. She made more news shortly after when LPGA commissioner Mike Whan granted her a waiver of the tour rule requiring members be at least 18, opening the door for Thompson to claim an exemption to become a full-time LPGA member next year.

Karrie Webb won the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, a unique event where tour pros played for designated charities, donating all their winnings to causes special to them. The week – the invention of second-year commissioner Whan – was a tribute to the women who created the tour 61 years ago. In a special setting, three of the founders – Louise Suggs, Shirley Spork and Marilynn Smith – sat in a box beside the 18th green at Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix greeting players as they finished their rounds.

• Pettersen (Sybase Match Play, Safeway Classic), Webb (HSBC Women’s, RR Donnelley Founders Cup) and Brittany Lincicome (Shoprite, CN Canadian Women’s Open) each won two LPGA events.

So Yeon Ryu defeated Hee Kyung Seo in a U.S. Women’s Open playoff at the Broadmoor featuring two more rising young South Korean stars.

• Commissioner Whan made perhaps the boldest stroke of the year, announcing the Evian Masters in France would become the LPGA’s fifth major championship beginning in 2013.

Still, there was no trumping Tseng in 2011.

When the year opened, Tseng was No. 5 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She didn’t wait long to make her move, winning her first three worldwide starts, the Taifong Ladies Open in Taiwan, the Women’s Australian Open and the Australian Ladies Masters. She seized the No. 1 ranking a week before the LPGA season opened and then won the LPGA opener, the Honda Thailand.

The year ends with Tseng at No. 1 having doubled the world-ranking points of Pettersen, her nearest pursuer.

Tseng’s dominance could be seen between the ropes as well as in the season-ending stats. Tseng won her second consecutive Rolex Player of the Year award and her first Vare Trophy for low scoring average (69.66). She also led the tour in birdies (4.7 per round), driving distance (269.2) and greens in regulation (75.1 percent).

Opponents noticed a difference even in Tseng’s body language this year.

Na Yeon Choi said she can see the growing confidence in the way Tseng walks now.

“She walks like this, with chest like this,” Choi said, throwing her shoulders back and chest out. “I can see her confidence, when she’s doing her routine. She smiles when she walks to the ball, in her setup. It’s kind of scary.”

Tseng might have smiled more than any other player this past year, but she left a lot of frowns in her wake with fellow tour pros like Pettersen trying to figure out how to catch her.

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.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: