MAJOR RELIEF: Cristie Kerr played bogey-free golf over the final nine holes Sunday at Pine Needles, and made one clutch birdie to win her first major championship. Kerr's birdie on the par-4 14th gave her a one-shot lead, which she turned into a two-stroke victory at the U.S. Women's Open.
With all of the talk surrounding Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and so many more on the LPGA Tour, Kerr has been overlooked over the last couple of years. That should change, as Kerr will most certainly enjoy reminding everyone - should they forget - that she is now a major champion.
MAJOR HEADACHE: Ochoa was just one shot back with two holes to play, but a bogey at the par-4 17th dropped her out of contention for her first major title. She finished tied for second with 18-year-old rookie Angela Park.
Ochoa may be No. 1 in the world, but she is now 0-for-22 in majors played. The worst part about her play on Sunday was not that she didn't win, but that she didn't look very steady coming down the stretch.
WOE IS WIE: For the second time in three tournaments, Michelle Wie withdrew, citing an injury to her left wrist. Wie dropped out after nine holes of her second round in the U.S. Women's Open. She was 17 over for the tournament at the time of her withdrawal, having opened in 11-over 82.
After walking off the course, a teary-eyed Wie said she was uncertain about her future. She might as well have been speaking for everyone else. It could be a while before we see her again, and it could be even longer before she plays like her old self again.
JOURNEYMAN FINDS HIS WAY: Brian Bateman made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to secure a one-stroke victory at the Buick Open, his first PGA TOUR win. The $882,000 he earned moved him from 204th on the money list to 68th.
Around the time the leaders made the turn on Sunday, there were no fewer than 25 players tied or within three strokes of the lead. And who should emerge but a 34-year-old Q-school regular. Goes to show the depth of talent on TOUR.
FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS: Fifteen players managed to finish inside the top 10 at the Buick. Just on the outskirts was John Daly. Daly shot four rounds under par at Warwick Hills to tie for 16th, his first top-20 finish of the year.
For once, Daly gets a Backspin mention based on his play. Prior to the Buick, Daly had played 12 events with no top-20s, five missed cuts and three withdrawals. Other players, like Jason Gore (T2), Justin Leonard (T2), Marco Dawson (T5) and Steve Elkington (T5) also enoyed their best finishes of the season. And that Bateman guy, too.
UNHAPPY RETURN: Karrie Webb won the U.S.Women's Open at Pine Needles in 2001. Six years later, upon her return, she missed the cut. Webb shot 12-over 83 in the first round, the highest score in her career. She followed with a 71 and missed the cut by six strokes.
While Webb was the biggest surprise to miss the cut, she wasn't the only big name on that list. Two-time Open champion Juli Inkster and LPGA Championship winner Suzann Pettersen were also notable absentees over the final two rounds.
WEATHER WORRIES: Most of the first two rounds of the Women's Open was plagued by inclement weather. The first round carried over into Friday, which pushed Round 2 into Saturday and Round 3 into Sunday. The rain and lightning subsided over the weekend, however, to allow the tournament to finish on schedule
This year's Open had a Wimbledon-like feel -- with all of the weather delays, you never really knew who was in what round on what day. Perhaps the worst part of it was that fans were relegated to watching tape-delayed action or no action at all on Saturday, as NBC ended its coverage at 6:00 p.m.
ACTING LIKE A 12-YEAR-OLD: Alexis Thompson, 12, was the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. She wasn't able to make the cut, however, shooting 76-82 to miss the mark by 11 strokes.
Thompson may not have played the final two rounds, but she did make it to the weekend as her second round was postponed into Saturday. While she would have liked to have played better, Thompson was thrilled with the experience, providing the perfect example of someone who plays for the love of the game.
TIGER AND PHIL: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both announced last Wednesday that they will be competing in this week's AT&T National, which is hosted by Woods. Neither man has competed since the U.S. Open. Woods has been busy being a father, while Mickelson has been nursing an injured left wrist.
The last two weeks on TOUR might have been competitive, but there is nothing like the excitement and anticipation produced when the top 2 players in the world are in the same field. Tiger's pre-tournament press conference might be the most compelling this week, but Phil will have the most questions to answer on the course.
NEARLY GATOR BAIT: A Tennessee man who lost his ball in a golf course pond nearly lost a limb when an 11-foot alligator latched onto his arm and pulled him in, authorities said. Bruce Burger, 50, was trying to retrieve his ball from a pond on the sixth hole at the Lake Venice Golf Club in Venice, Fla., when the gator attacked. Burger managed to beat off the reptile and escape without being seriously injured.
If you see a sign ... near a pond ... warning about alligators ... stay away. Leave the Pro-V1 behind. Really. Seriously.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Colin Montgomerie coughed up the final-round lead coming down the stretch in Paris; Bruce Vaughan, a Champions Tour rookie, made two aces in two days before the start of the Commerece Bank Championship; Lonnie Nielsen won the Commerce Bank for his first Champions win; Ochoa finally signed an endorsement deal with Ping; the USGA announced that the U.S. Women's Open is headed to Pebble Beach in 2014; a beachside guest house owned by Tiger Woods on his recently purchased compound in Jupiter, Fla., was destroyed by fire on Friday.
Monty’s stumble was complete with, you guessed it, problems with the gallery; Unfortunately for Vaughan, the aces came during practice rounds; An endorsement deal for the world’s top-ranked player? You think?; Not only are the women finally getting to play legendary Pebble Beach, but also are heading to storied St. Andrews for this year's Women’s British Open; Luckily for Tiger, he still lives in Orlando.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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