Weathers Been Around


Weather, my GOLF CHANNEL colleague Kraig Kann and I like to joke, has been around a long time.
And as former New York Yankee manager Casey Stengel used to say, You could look it up.
Going all the way back to Biblical times, weather has been a factor. Lately, in golf, it has been around more often than not.
It was a dominant theme at last weeks Masters where winner Zach Johnson conquered the wind and the cold AND Tiger Woods to win a coveted green jacket. Sunday at Hilton Head gale force winds forced golfers and spectators off the Harbour Town Golf Links at the Verizon Heritage and prompted officials to postpone the events finish until Monday.
In fact Sunday, all up and down the Eastern Seaboard, weather was a dominant story line in golf. On the womens side, though, it had to share the front page with Lorena Ochoa, who could not hold off Brittany Lincicome at the Ginn Open. Ochoa was poised to replace a recuperating Annika Sorenstam atop the Rolex Womens World Rankings. But she played the last six holes in 6 over par.
Mexicos Ochoa had been stalking Sorenstams spot at the top for months. She supplanted Sorenstam as the LPGAs Player of the Year in 2006. And she could have passed Sorenstam on the Rolex list with a victory at the Kraft Nabisco two weeks ago.
Ochoa faltered down the stretch there and Morgan Pressel won the first major of the year in womens golf. Afterward Ochoa said she had waited five years and she would patiently wait a few more weeks if she had to do so.
Suddenly now two young Americans'Pressel and Lincicome have won the last two important tournaments in womens golf.
Meanwhile, Sorenstam had withdrawn from the Ginn and announced she had back and neck problems that would sideline her for at least a month.
Many of the seeds of Ochoas rapid ascent to the near top were sewn at last years Samsung World Championship. Playing together in the final pairing with Sorenstam, Ochoa carded a near-flawless 65. Sorenstam struggled to a 70 that included three bogeys. Ochoa turned a three-shot 54-hole deficit into a two-shot victory, all the while looking like she belonged; and all the while looking quite comfortable in the heat of competition.
The Los Angeles Times quoted Sorenstam, in its next day editions as saying, It doesnt get any worse than this.
Sorenstam appears much more resigned to Ochoas rise now, especially since she has been playing in pain much of the year. Clearly she has been looking forward to the opening of her golf academy near Orlando on Monday more than playing in pain.
But for her part, Ochoa will have to resign herself to more patience while wondering all over again why she has problems closing the deal when she is in position to win. It happened at Kraft Nabisco when she made a late triple bogey in the third round and followed that with an inability to make key putts Sunday. And it happened again admist the roaring winds at the Reunion Resort and Club Sunday.
Meanwhile, back on the mens side, it got so bad Sunday afternoon at Hilton Head that CBS-TV showed David Feherty, at the outset of that networks final round coverage, demonstrate how gusts of 50 miles per hour can actually change the shape of the hole from round to oval.
On the par-3 17th hole, before play was stopped, long-hitting J.B. Holmes chose a 6-iron, dead into the wind, from 130 yards and came up 15 yards short. TOUR officials had mercifully chosen an up tee box and the hole was still virtually impossible.
It just got unplayable, said TOUR rules official Slugger White. And it got dangerous. At one point a spectator was struck by a limb that fell from a tree on the ninth hole.
Play was officially suspended at 4 p.m. with a 7:45 a.m. re-start scheduled for Monday morning. GOLF CHANNEL will televise the final round beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sunday afternoon the final grouping of Ernie Els, Kevin Na and Jerry Kelly had hit their tee balls on the first hole when wind turned golf there into a travesty.
The gusts were severe at the Ginn, but not as bad as Hilton Head. But the women had to wait out a two hour and 41 minute rain delay after which Ochoa slowly took command.
She couldnt hold the lead and nobody could hold back Mother Nature.
Yes, weathers been around a long time.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt