Shag Bag Blog Week 24


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Welcome to the Shag Bag, where the team and Golf Channel talent will regularly file thoughts and opinions from around the world of golf.

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Christina Kim is the featured player wearing a microphone for Golf Channel's telecast today of the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Michelle Wie's in this marquee pairing.
And then there's Shanshan Feng. Who's Shanshan Feng? She's the third wheel threatening to steal the show with the best round of the trio. She's 4-under stepping to the 16th tee, two shots better than Wie and three better than Kim.
Feng is a second-year pro from China who earned her tour membership tying for ninth at LPGA qualifying school at the end of the '07 season. Her best LPGA finish is second place at last year's Bell Micro LPGA Classic.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 11, 1:40 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Anna Nordqvist's stirring recovery at the 18th hole made her the early leader in the clubhouse Thursday in the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
The Swedish rookie, who turned 22 on Wednesday, pulled her 5-wood left and into the water at the finishing hole but rebounded by holing her pitch from 40 yards with a 58-degree wedge. That impressive par topped off a 6-under-par 66, her lowest round in her brief LPGA career. This is just the fifth start of her first season. She won limited tour status coming out qualifying school last winter.
'(The hole-out) gives me good momentum for tomorrow,' Nordqvist said.
Nordqvist said her golf career was inspired by Annika Sorenstam. Unfortunately, Nordqvist's rookie season comes with Sorenstam in her first year of retirement.
'I never had the opportunity to play with her,' Nordqvist said. 'Hopefully, someday I will.'
Nordqvist met Sorenstam when she won the Annika Sorenstam Award in '05, given annually to the 18-year-old Swedish standouts in both men's and women's golf.
'That was probably one of the biggest golf memories I have so far,' Nordqvist said.
Nordqvist's coach is Henri Reis, Sorenstam's long-time coach. Nordqvist was the Swedish Junior of the Year in 2004 and '05 and left Arizona State in the middle of her junior season to turn pro.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 11, 12:57 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Rookie Anna Nordqvist, in just her fourth start this season, is off to a fast start with three consecutive birdies to close her front nine Thursday in the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
Nordqvist was the Swedish Junior of the Year in 2004 and '05. She played at Arizona State and was the National Golf Coaches Freshman of the Year in '07.
Paige Mackenzie, a fourth-year pro from the University of Washington, also is off to a quick start. She made three consecutive birdies after making the turn. Mackenzie tied for 13th as an amateur at the U.S. Women's Open in '05. They were both at 4-under early atop the leaderboard. Play started with a gray sky with rain chances moving to 50 percent in the afternoon.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 11, 10:42 a.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Christina Kim will wear a microphone Thursday during Golf Channel's first round coverage of the McDonald's LPGA Championship. She'll be paired with Michelle Wie and Shanshan Feng. The telecast begins at 12:30 p.m. with a prime-time replay beginning at 7 p.m. Golf Central Pre Game begins at 11:30 a.m.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 7:10 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Brittany Lincicome, winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, enters the year's second major with little fanfare.
Ladbrokes, the betting house, lists her as a 100-to-1 shot to win this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship.
Lincicome, 23, wasn't among the seven players brought into the LPGA media center for interviews Tuesday and Wednesday and isn't getting a lot of pre-tournament publicity, but the shot she hit into the 72nd hole to set up her winning eagle at the Kraft Nabisco will go down as one of the finest clutch shots ever hit to win a major.
Bulle Rock Golf Course is a long-hitter's course, and Lincicome's a long hitter. She tied for sixth at Bulle Rock two years ago.
Here's what Golf Channel analysts Dottie Pepper and Beth Daniel had to say about Lincicome's chances of winning back-to-back majors.
Pepper: 'I think her length certainly fits Bulle Rock very well. I think it was kind of an interesting comment her dad made after the Kraft event that she was just kind of made for majors. So I guess we're going to find out.
Daniel: 'There's no question and never has been a question that Brittany Lincicome has the talent. But the question with her has always been her work ethic. To be on top and stay on top, your work ethic has to be incredible. And that's always been the question with her.'
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 5:10 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Beth Daniel tries to be as inconspicuous as possible in her scouting. She jokes that when she's out on the course watching, American players eager to please her will wave from two fairways over. She suspects her presence adds pressure for players trying to make the team.
If that's true, the pressure ratchets up for three Americans Thursday in the first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
Daniel, who does most of her TV work for the Golf Channel in a booth, will be out on the course as a roving reporter this week. She learned Wednesday that she is scheduled to follow Nicole Castrale, Paula Creamer and Kristy McPherson in the first round, all three Americans in the hunt for Solheim Cup spots. That assignment could change, depending on how the day unfolds.
'I made a decision last year not to go out and watch players play, like some of the past captains have done,' Daniel said last week in a teleconference promoting the Golf Channel's telecast. 'But it becomes a bit of an issue when I'm an on-course commentator. If you get a group, and I have Americans in that group, they have a tendency to get a little uptight with me walking down the fairway with them. Several of the players have discussed that with me. It's unfortunate they feel that way, but it also does give me a chance to be out there and see what's going on.'
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 4:30 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' The word battle is too loosely used to describe competition in sport.
At this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship, you wonder, though.
While LPGA pros played practice rounds Wednesday afternoon, bursts of what sounded like heavy artillery could be heard thundering from the horizon. It wasn't Suzann Pettersen or Sophie Gustafson hitting drivers. In fact, it was heavy guns at work.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, an Army installation, is about two miles southwest of Bulle Rock Golf Course. Military personnel are trained there. Weapons and armor also are tested. Everything from hand guns to howitzers are used at the installation.
'Every gun put in the hands of an American soldier gets tested, every one, and a lot of them are tested here,' said George Mercer, the public affairs officer for Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Aberdeen Test Center officials sent out an alert that this whole week they have 'plans to conduct several large detonations which are likely to generate sound and/or vibration outside the installation boundaries.'
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 2:35 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Lorena Ochoa may be the No. 1 player in women's golf, but she isn't casting a dominant shadow over fellow players at Bulle Rock Golf Course at this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship.
Last week, Cristie Kerr spoke about her desire to take the No. 1 ranking. This week, Angela Stanford spoke about how this championship feels wide open, just like this season.
'Obviously, you can't overlook the No. 1 player in the world, Lorena,' Stanford said. 'The cool thing about our tour right now is that it's anybody's ballgame. Anybody can win. So that's what makes it so interesting right now.'
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 1:03 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Lorena Ochoa has some good vibes going this week with her regular caddie, Dave Brooker, back on her bag. He's been out since breaking a foot with other caddies in a soccer game on the eve of the final round of the Corona Championship six weeks ago.
'He finished a little bit tired after the pro-am (Tuesday), but we are happy to be back,' Ochoa said. 'It's a nice feeling because we know each other very well. It's important to have him next to me in the process of playing, with making decisions and supporting each other. He's very motivated, and we are ready to go.'
Ochoa has won twice this season, increasing her LPGA victory total to 26. She's looking to win her third career major with previous titles won at the Ricoh Women's British Open (2007) and Kraft Nabisco (2008). Though she has never won the McDonald's LPGA, she has five consecutive top-10 finishes in it.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 1:03 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Mother Nature is conspiring to make Bulle Rock Golf Course play long for the power hitters this week at the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
With thunderstorms dropping more than 2 inches of rain Tuesday afternoon, the course is soft. Players say it feels even longer than the 6,641 yards accounted for on the scorecard.
Long-hitting Yani Tseng won a year ago. Long-hitting Suzann Pettersen won two years ago.
'The golf course has always been one of our longer stops on tour, just because of all the rain we get,' Paula Creamer said. 'The rough is so thick, which is great. I think it's the thickest it's ever been, especially around the greens. It makes it a premium on hitting fairways and greens.'
Tee shots aren't rolling out.
'It's playing a little bit longer than it has in past years,' Cristie Kerr said. 'I don't know about advantages. I guess the advantage goes to the person who is playing best.'
' Randall Mell
Posted June 10, 10:54 a.m. ET


ORLANDO, Fla. ' We heard Ian Poulter was twittering from the Game 3 of the NBA Championship tonight. Didn't see him though. He obviously did not have seats as prominent as Tiger Woods.
Speaking of the world's No.1, he showed little emotion during the entire game. And with 0.5 seconds remaining and the Magic up two points, Woods headed for the exit with his posse of three following closely behind.
' Jay Coffin
Posted June 10, 12:19 a.m. ET



Tiger Woods watches his beloved L.A. Lakers fall to the Orlando Magic Tuesday, 108-104.

ORLANDO, Fla. ' Tiger Woods is at Game 3 of the NBA finals here and has only stood up once from his plush court-side seats. And that was during pregame introductions where he remained standing for both teams.
Although he's a season ticket holder for the Orlando Magic, the California native said last week at the Memorial that he was partial to the L.A. Lakers.
So far at the end of the first quarter, he's basically been a statue and hasn't clapped once. Maybe he knows we are watching.
More than anything we wonder who the schlub is sitting next to him ' and if said schlub understands that he's sitting next to the guy who is going to win the U.S. Open next week.
Stay tuned.
' Jay Coffin
Posted June 9, 9:33 p.m. ET


HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. ' Paula Creamer's determination to win her first major championship comes through in her devotion to hitting more fairways and greens. She arrives for the McDonald's LPGA Championship having dramatically improved this season in the percentage of greens she's hitting in regulation and in the percentage of fairways she's hitting.
Creamer is dominating the LPGA's greens in regulation stat, hitting a career best 81.1 percent. That's a staggering 5.5 percent better than the next best player, In Kyung Kim. It's 10 percent better than what Lorena Ochoa hit when she led the LPGA in that category a year ago.
Creamer's also at a career best 80.5 percent in fairways hit, ranking fifth best on tour.
'It goes back to something my dad put in my head, that you have to give yourself chances to make birdies,' Creamer said. 'Hitting greens and fairways, they're important stats to me.'
Creamer, 22, says she doesn't tire of being asked if she's ready to win her first major.
'I'm kind of used to it now,' she said. 'I feel like I'm a tough competitor, and I feel like it's about timing . . . I feel like I should have won majors. I think it's a learning experience and we'll see what happens.'
' Randall Mell
Posted June 9, 6:43 p.m. ET


Lorena Ochoa, of course, is the favorite to win the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Ladbrokes has her at 4-to-1 odds. Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen are next with each listed at 10-to-1. Defending champion Yani Tseng, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford are each 12-to-1. Michelle Wie is 40-to-1. William Hill lists Wie at 25-to-1, better than its odds on Karrie Webb (33-to-1), Morgan Pressel (50-to-1) or Kraft Nabisco champion Brittany Lincicome (66-to-1).
' Randall Mell
Posted June 9, 9:21 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Roger Federers victory at the French Open seemed to dovetail nicely with Tiger Woods come-from-behind Memorial show. The two are Nike stablemates and good friends who talked before Woods teed off on Sunday at Muirfield Village.
The two victories also featured similarly eerie moments. During his second set at Roland Garros Federer was charged by a fan who rushed onto the court. The fan was tackled by security and carried off.
Towards the end of Woods post-round interview at the Memorial an apparent member of the media stood to ask a question before reaching into his pocket for a guest pass that he wanted Woods and tournament host Jack Nicklaus to sign.
The man was escorted from the media center, but not before both Nicklaus and Woods signed his pass.
Got a little nervous when he reached into his pocket, Nicklaus said.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 8, 8:26 a.m. ET


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