Annika Pak Among Open Leaders

By Sports NetworkJune 30, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 U.S. Womens OpenNEWPORT, R.I. -- Annika Sorenstam, a two-time winner of this event, shot a 2-under 69 on Friday and is among the leaders after the first round of the U.S. Women's Open at Newport Country Club.
 
Se Ri Pak, who won the LPGA Championship in a playoff earlier this month, also shot a 69 and joined Sorenstam, Pat Hurst and amateur Jane Park atop the leaderboard.
 
Se Ri Pak
Se Ri Pak is in search of her second consecutive major title.
Michelle Wie played very well on Friday and shot a 1-under-par 70. Amateur Amanda Blumenherst, Sung Ah Yim, Gloria Hee Jung Park and Becky Morgan are tied for fifth with the 16-year-old star.
 
The opening round finally went off without a hitch on Friday. Not a single shot was struck on Thursday as a dense fog never left Newport Country Club. The plan is to complete the second round on Saturday and play 36 holes on Sunday.
 
Wie collected her first birdie of the round at the par-3 fifth when her tee ball stopped a foot from the hole. She tapped that in, but then dropped a shot at nine when she missed the fairway, then a 4-footer for the save.
 
Par is a good score at U.S. Opens and Wie collected them on the back nine. She parred every hole on the second nine until she hit her approach 15 feet right of the flag at the closing hole. Wie rolled in the birdie putt to break par in the opening round.
 
'I felt like I had a very solid round today, lots of pars. That's what the U.S. Open is. You have to have pars when you're in trouble,' said Wie. 'I know that it's going to get better and better. And I think that's a good opening round.'
 
Not as good as Sorenstam's.
 
The No. 1 player in the world, who has only one victory this season, collected her first birdie on the par-4 third. Sorenstam hit a 5-iron to 17 feet and ran home the birdie putt.
 
She dropped a shot at the sixth after her 7-wood approach sailed over the green. Sorenstam chipped to 20 feet, but two-putted for the lone bogey on her card.
 
At the ninth, Sorenstam used a 4-iron for her second shot and drained the 12-footer. Throughout her round, Sorenstam had a lot of birdie chances from that length, but failed to convert.
 
Sorenstam, the only co-leader who teed off in the afternoon groups, finally caught the leaders at the par-5 16th. The Swede hit a sand-wedge to 8 feet and stroked that home as she tries to win her third U.S. Open title.
 
'It was a great start, and hopefully I can continue this,' said Sorenstam. 'I feel like I've come a long ways the last few days, and today I really showed that, so it was good.'
 
Rain has also been a problem in the Newport area as 13 inches of water inundated the course in the last six weeks. That meant a lot of casual water rulings and much slower pace of play.
 
'I'm hitting it here and somebody else is hitting it there, so the rules official has a lot of work to do,' said Pak. 'There is so much water on the golf course still, but we can't do anything about it.'
 
Pak, who estimated she took close to 30 drops on Friday, started on the 10th tee and birdied the 12th, but dropped a shot at the par-3 13th. She birdied the par-5 16th to make the turn at 1-under-par 35.
 
She bogeyed the third hole, but reclaimed the lost stroke with a long birdie putt from the fringe at six. Pak added another birdie at the next hole to reach 2 under par.
 
'I just so much enjoyed it out there all day long and am so much more comfortable and the confidence in myself, it helped me out with a good round,' said Pak.
 
Pak had fallen off the golf radar with poor play and injuries over the last several years. When she dramatically defeated Karrie Webb in a playoff for the LPGA Championship, it signaled a return for Pak, who proclaimed herself 'back.'
 
'I'll always be here if anyone forgets about me,' joked Pak. 'Actually I feel great to be back. At the same time my game is back, too. I feel so great, I feel so much confidence in my game right now. The last couple weeks have been perfect.'
 
Hurst also began at 10 and mixed four birdies and two bogeys on her opening nine. At the par-3 fourth, Hurst hit her tee ball to 4 feet to set up birdie and reach 3 under par. Unfortunately a bogey at the eighth thanks to an errant drive dropped her into a tie for the lead.
 
'I basically try to go out and do the best I can, and wherever that takes me, great,' said Hurst. 'I know if I give it 100 percent that's all I can ask from myself.'
 
Park played the course from the first and recorded two birdies through her first seven holes. She dropped a shot at eight, but got back to 2 under with a birdie at the 10th.
 
Like Wie, Park made all pars from there, but squandered a chance at the final hole. She knocked her second 10 feet over the flag, but missed the birdie putt that could have separated herself from the field.
 
'I haven't been in this kind of atmosphere here for a year,' said Park. 'I really missed this. I haven't been in a professional tournament in a year. It's great to be out here again, seeing all these people and the people I look up to. It inspires me to play my best and be my best.'
 
The leading money winner on the LPGA Tour, Lorena Ochoa, opened with a respectable even-par 71. Reigning Rookie of the Year Paula Creamer, Silvia Cavalleri, Jee Young Lee, Kim Saiki, Brandie Burton and Shi Hyun Ahn joined Ochoa in a tie for 10th.
 
Webb carded a 2-over-par 73 on Friday and along with Cristie Kerr, is part of a group tied for 28th.
 
Defending champion Birdie Kim has a lot of work to do if she is going to be the first repeat champion since Webb in 2000-2001. Kim struggled to an 8-over-par 79 on Friday and is tied for 122nd place.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - U.S. Women's Open
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.