Notes Van de Velde Out Ochoas Event


Jean Van de Velde won't have to relive any nightmares at Carnoustie. The Frenchman who threw away the 1999 British Open on the last hole had to withdraw from the 36-hole qualifier at Sunningdale because of a mysterious stomach ailment.
His manager inquired about trying local qualifying, but the Royal & Ancient turned him down. The last hope for Van de Velde is to be leading player among the top 10 at the Scottish Open who is not already eligible, although he is not sure he can play. Jamie Cunningham, his manager, said Van de Velde might be out two or three months.
Van de Velde said he planned to have a scope in his stomach to find out the problem. He told reporters last week at the French Open that he could not practice. 'Anybody seeing me would have thought I was drunk,' he said.
Van de Velde was poised to become the first Frenchman since 1907 to win the British Open in 1999 at Carnoustie. He had a three-shot lead with one hole to play when he took triple bogey, and Paul Lawrie won a three-hole playoff.
Lorena Ochoa still doesn't have a major title, but it might not be long before she has her own LPGA Tour event.
Alejandro Ochoa, her brother and agent, said the tour is getting closer to signing off on an official tournament that would be held in November 2008 at Guadalajara Country Club, the home course of the 25-year-old Mexican star.
Doug Brecht, the vice president of rules and officials on the LPGA Tour, did a scouting report on the golf course earlier this year when the LPGA Tour was in Mexico and liked what he saw.
Ochoa's brother said the $1 million tournament would be limited to the top 30 players from the money list, and he was hopeful of a date the week before the season-ending ADT Championship, a spot on the calendar now occupied by the Tournament of Champions. He said he had a title sponsor lined up, but declined to identify it until contracts are signed.
LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, however, said nothing has been determined.
'I don't know how I'd handicap that,' Bivens said when asked the chances of the No. 1 player having her own tournament. 'Next year's schedule is still being refined. She'd love to have a tournament down there next year, but it depends on finding a title sponsor and the right mix of sponsors.'
She described Brecht's trip to Guadalajara as typical when the LPGA is considering a new venue, adding that the tour is trying to upgrade its courses and 'we're not going to add any that aren't very, very good.' She said Guadalajara met the standard.
Ochoa would be the second active player with her own tournament. Annika Sorenstam is the host of the Ginn Tribute, which made its debut this year in South Carolina.
Bivens said the 2008 schedule would not have dramatic changes, rather a different flow. The LPGA spends three weeks in Asia in October before returning for its conclusion.
'One thing we're not happy with is being out of the country for three weeks before the ADT,' she said.
Judy Rankin, who was at Oakmont for ESPN during the U.S. Open, was driving back to her rental house when she saw a sign for Churchill Valley Country Club.
Without much ado, Rankin said quietly, 'I think this is where I played my first U.S. Open.'
In a U.S. Women's Open dominated by teenagers and 12-year-old Alexis Thompson, no one could relate quite like Rankin. The Hall of Famer was a 14-year-old amateur when she made her debut in 1959. That was before the Women's Open had qualifying, and when it was desperate for players. There were only 63 entries that year.
'I remember going in to check in and the woman behind the desk said, 'Are you here to register up for your mother?''
Rankin doesn't remember her score, only that she had never felt her knees shake so badly as when she hit her opening tee shot. Mickey Wright won that year for the second of her four U.S. Women's Open titles.
Someone such as Rod Pampling or Frank Lickliter might not be a bad pick to win the U.S. Open next year, not because of their games or the course, but the year on their birth certificate.
Indeed, 1969 is proving to be a pretty good year for U.S. Open champions.
Angel Cabrera became the third U.S. Open champion in the last four years who was born in 1969, the others being Michael Campbell and Retief Goosen. Throw in Shaun Micheel ('03 PGA Championship) and Ernie Els ('02 British Open), and 1969 has produced six of the last 26 major champions.
Only 1975 has produced more majors (10) this decade. That was the year Tiger Woods was born.
Ping has three more clubs for its 'Gold Putter' vault. That company has a solid gold model built any time someone wins a major. Suzann Pettersen used a Doc15 at the LPGA Championship, Angel Cabrera used the Redwood Answer in winning at Oakmont and Cristie Kerr used a G59 Craz-E putter, which she bought at a golf store in South Korea. ... The Nationwide Tour had eight regular members qualify for the U.S. Open at Oakmont, although none made the cut. The Futures Tour had an even stronger presence at Pine Needles, with 25 current members making it to the U.S. Women's Open. Five made the cut, with Kris Tamulis finishing the highest at 9-over 293 to tie for 35th. ... Jay Williamson has earned $699,100 the last two weeks, more than his best year on the PGA TOUR (he won $660,038 in 2004).
Of the top 15 players at the U.S. Women's Open, the oldest was Mi-Hyun Kim, who turned 30 in January.
'That 130-mile-an-hour swing and hitting it 350 (yards) in the air passed me by a long time ago. I just have to hit it straight, hit it solid and make putts, and I can hang in there with most people.' -- Scott Verplank.
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - AT&T National