Annika Wie Bounced at Match Play

By Sports NetworkJuly 8, 2006, 4:00 pm
GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie, the top two seeds, were both eliminated in Saturday's quarterfinals of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
 
Juli Inkster, the eighth seed, birdied four of the final five holes, including a 4-footer at the 18th, to knock off Sorenstam, 1-up.
 
'It was very, very close,' said Sorenstam. 'She finished very solidly. I'm very happy with the way I played. I couldn't do much more. I wanted to give Juli the best match I possibly could.'
 
Wie was pummeled 4 and 3 by No. 39 Brittany Lincicome.
 
'I played very solid and just had a lot of bad breaks,' admitted Wie. 'There were a lot of wedge shots that could have been a lot closer and a lot of putts that could have gone in.'
 
Inkster will take on one of her partners from last year's Solheim Cup.
 
Paula Creamer, the fifth seed who played with Inkster twice in last year's biennial event against Europe, dispatched No. 4 Karrie Webb, 3 and 2.
 
Lincicome drew the LPGA Tour's leading money winner, Lorena Ochoa, in the semifinals. The Mexican, seeded third, overcame a front-nine deficit to knock off No. 27 Sophie Gustafson to the tune of 3 and 2.
 
The only close match was the last one between Sorenstam and Inkster, which was a rematch of the singles match from the 2000 Solheim Cup when Inkster destroyed Sorenstam, 5 and 4.
 
The Swede held a 2-up advantage after a win at the 11th, but Inkster came charging.
 
Inkster cut the margin in half with a two-putt birdie at the 14th. One hole later, Inkster rolled in right-to-left-breaking 10-foot birdie putt to square the match.
 
At the 16th, Sorenstam seemed to have the edge as her second stopped 6 feet from the cup. Inkster came up short of the putting surface with her approach, but chipped in for a birdie. Sorenstam holed the tester to move to the 17th even.
 
Both players narrowly missed long birdie putts at the par-3 hole, then both spilt the fairway at the 18th. Inkster went first and hit her second to 6 feet. Sorenstam followed with a 7-iron that came to rest nine feet from the flag.
 
Sorenstam's putt missed on the right edge. Inkster's poured right into the heart of the cup and now it's a semifinal match against Creamer, who is 27 years younger and grew up idolizing Inkster.
 
'I'm good friends with Paula,' said Inkster, who went 1-1 with Creamer last year at the Solheim Cup. 'She's fiery and she's going to be pumping her fists. I have to play my game and see what happens.'
 
Wie fell behind immediately as Lincicome captured the first hole. Wie squared it at the third, but Lincicome built a 2-up lead after five holes with wins at four and five.
 
Lincicome, who like Wie is one of the longest hitters in women's golf, took the 10th to move 3-up. Wie three-putted from 50 feet to lose the 13th and fall 4-down with five to play.
 
Wie gained a glimmer of hope when she sank a 12-footer for birdie at the 14th. Lincicome missed from 4 feet closer, but finished the match at the next hole after Wie took two to get out of a fairway bunker.
 
'I got up early and I kept the momentum going,' said Lincicome, who finished seventh at last week's U.S. Women's Open. 'I have been putting so well lately and that helped me win today.'
 
Next up for Wie is the John Deere Classic on the PGA TOUR next week.
 
'Hopefully I play as solidly as I'm playing,' said Wie, who has yet to make a cut in her previous experiences on the PGA TOUR. 'I feel like I'm playing awesome. Maybe a couple of lucky bounces here and there.'
 
Creamer took the fourth and fifth holes to move 2-up and Webb never mounted much of a charge. Webb did not win any holes until the 14th, when Creamer was already 4-up.
 
Webb, who won the season's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, had a great opportunity at the 16th. Creamer short-sided herself in a bunker, then left her blast on the fringe, but Webb hit an awkward approach that landed short and right of the green.
 
Both made bogey and Creamer moved into the semifinals.
 
'I felt pretty good about it, but it's a shame I didn't get more out of it,' said Webb. 'I played pretty solid today, but just didn't make any birdies. I really screwed up on the last hole.'
 
Gustafson had the lead through much of the front nine, but Ochoa knotted the match by winning the eighth. She continued her strong play around the turn with wins at nine and 10 to move 2-up.
 
Gustafson cut it to 1-down with a win at 11, but Ochoa rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt to win No. 14. Gustafson was in a greenside bunker at 16 and thinned her blast 45 feet past the flag. Ochoa eventually won the hole and the match.
 
'I can only say I'm very excited to be here,' said Ochoa. 'I can't wait to be here tomorrow and I will do my best.'
 
Related Links:
  • Scoring - HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship
  • Full Coverage - HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.