Hurst Avenges Heartbreaking Loss

By Sports NetworkSeptember 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 State Farm ClassicSPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Pat Hurst avenged a heartbreaking loss to Cristie Kerr last week by hanging on Sunday and winning the State Farm Classic at The Rail Golf Course.
'Last week, she played well and I want to congratulate her,' said Hurst. 'This week was my turn. It feels great. I didn't think this day would come again. I'm so proud.'
Pat Hurst
After a disappointing loss last week, Pat Hurst had her eyes on the prize this week at the State Farm Classic.
On Sunday of last week's Wendy's Championship for Children, Hurst and Kerr were tied for the lead when Hurst reached the 18th tee. She hit it out of bounds, then made double bogey and lost the tournament by two strokes to Kerr.
This Sunday was a different story as Hurst shot a 2-under 70 and defeated Kerr by three shots at 17-under-par 271. It was her fourth win on the LPGA Tour and her first since the 2000 Electrolux USA Championship.
Kerr, the 2004 champion, made things interesting on the back nine, but came up short. She shot a 3-under 69 to finish at minus-14, one shot better than Natalie Gulbis and Heather Bowie, who both posted rounds of 4-under 68 on Sunday.
Perhaps the happiest person on Sunday beside Hurst was Nancy Lopez. She will lead the United States Solheim Cup team of which Hurst, Kerr and Gulbis are all members.
'Pat Hurst winning is just fantastic,' said Lopez, as she was surrounded by several members of the team, which will head to Crooked Stick Sunday afternoon. 'The team's playing great and the players are awesome.'
Amateur Morgan Pressel, who tied for second at this year's U.S. Women's Open, fired a 6-under 66 and tied for fifth place with Maria Hjorth, a European Solheim Cupper, who shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday. The duo came in at minus-12.
Hurst began the final round with a three-shot lead, but flew out of the gate with back-to-back, 7-foot birdie putts. Kerr also got off to a solid start, but after Hurst played the next nine holes in 2 under par, Hurst held a five-shot lead.
That margin was short-lived as she drove into the right rough off the 12th tee. She knocked her second out of bounds and left with a double bogey and a three-shot lead.
At the 13th, Hurst once again missed the fairway and landed in the front bunker with her second. She blasted her third 9 feet past the hole and missed the putt left. That bogey dropped her to 16 under par and gave her a two-shot lead over Kerr, who parred every hole since three birdies in her first four holes.
Hurst quickly atoned for her mistakes with a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 14. She hit a long drive into the short grass at the par-5 15th, but pulled her second into water. After a drop, Hurst chipped her fourth 6 feet past, but holed the clutch par save.
She needed the par putt because Kerr, in the group in front of Hurst, hit an 8-iron inside 6 inches at the par-3 16th. Kerr tapped in to get within two and Hurst missed a chance at the same hole when her 8-footer hung on the lip.
Kerr made a tough par from the back bunker at 17, but played the 18th horribly. She pulled a 4-footer for par and now Hurst, in the fairway at 18, held a three-shot margin.
Hurst came up 20 feet short with her approach and nearly sank her birdie try. She marked, waited for her playing partners to finish, then tapped in for the win with several of her Solheim Cup teammates storming the green with congratulations.
'The back nine was one of the toughest nines that I've played,' said Hurst, who pocketed $195,000 for the win. 'I have a lot of confidence going into next week. Nothing could be better than representing my country.'
Catriona Matthew, another Solheim Cup player from Europe, managed an even-par 72 and tied for seventh place with Hee-Won Han, who carded a 2-under 70 on Sunday. The duo was knotted at 11-under-par 277.
Audra Burks (68), Moira Dunn (68), Karine Icher (68), Sung Ah Yim (68), Aree Song (70) and Kim Williams (74) tied for ninth place at 10-under-par 278.
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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.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.