Choi opens big lead on Day 3 of Women's Open

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2012, 11:08 pm

KOHLER, Wis. – Na Yeon Choi was just a kid when Se Ri Pak won the U.S. Women's Open at Blackwolf Run in 1998.

Today, Choi is living proof that Pak's landmark victory 14 years ago really did have the power to inspire girls in South Korea to try to make it in professional golf. And after posting one of the best rounds in Open history, Choi is poised to repeat Pak's feat in the same event at the same course.

Choi shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday in the third round at Blackwolf Run, taking control of the tournament.

''I couldn't believe how I got eight birdies today,'' Choi said. ''But I did. And I'm very happy, and I'm very satisfied and I'm very excited.''

The fifth-ranked South Korean star's remarkable round put her at 8 under for the tournament, giving her a six-stroke lead over fellow South Korean Amy Yang. Only four players ever have posted a lower round in the Open, and the 65 tied the lowest third-round score in the event's history.

As Choi surged despite windy conditions, Michelle Wie faded, shooting a 6-over 78 to fall to 2 over. Wie shot a 66 in the second round and came into the day a stroke behind second-round leader Suzann Pettersen.

''It was a lot of fun being in contention,'' Wie said. ''I'm still not out of it. Don't count me out just yet.''

Pettersen also shot 78 on Saturday and slid to 1 over, but still hoped to get back into contention.

''You know what, there's birdies out there,'' she said. ''I think the wind is going to be a little bit less tomorrow from what I've seen. So if you get off to a hot start, hopefully put a number down early in the clubhouse. Who knows?''

Yang had a 69. Choi and Yang were the only players to break 70 in the round.

''I'm just going to keep being patient tomorrow, try to do my best,'' Yang said.

Lexi Thompson, Mika Miyazato and Sandra Gal were tied for third at 1 under. The 17-year-old Thompson had a 72, Miyazato shot 73, and Gal had a 74.

''Seven under at an Open is pretty good, I would say,'' Thompson said about Choi's round. ''So she's leading by a good amount, but I'm still going to go for it.''

Top-ranked Yani Tseng struggled, shooting a 78 and fading to 8 over.

Tseng said she had trouble feeling comfortable with her club selection at times as she tried to deal with the wind and tough pin placements.

And Tseng said she didn't see too many opportunities for low scores out there, adding, ''Except Na Yeon.''

Choi has five career LPGA Tour victories. She tied for second in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.

And she credits Pak for helping to inspire those accomplishments.

Choi recalls watching the 1998 Open on television. At the time, she said she already was thinking about trying to make it as a golfer in South Korea – but when Pak won, her conceptions of what might be possible changed dramatically.

''I changed my goal: 'I have to go to the LPGA Tour and I want to win on the LPGA Tour,''' Choi said.

And given the source of her inspiration, winning at Blackwolf Run would be extra special.

Choi came into Saturday at 1 under for the tournament and started posting low numbers right away.

She had only 26 putts, and is optimistic she'll be able to continue putting well.

''I have a good feeling about my putting speed and putting strokes,'' Choi said. ''So I hope to get good results tomorrow.''

Choi had four birdies on the front nine, including back-to-back birdies to start the round. She made a 20-foot putt to birdie No. 7.

Then Choi birdied the first three holes on the back nine, draining a birdie putt on the 12th hole to go to 7 under on the day.

Choi's only slip-up of the day was a three-putt on the 13th, her only bogey of the day. Choi then made a 15-foot putt to birdie the par-3 17th, going back to 7 under for the day and 8 under for the tournament.

The lowest round in U.S. Women's Open history was a 63 by Helen Alfredsson in 1994. Three other players have shot a 64 in the Open.

With another low number Sunday, she could run away with the tournament.

''Honestly, it will be a lot of pressure tomorrow,'' Choi said. ''But you know, I know what I have to do, and I know what I can control.''

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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USC's Gaston leaves to become head coach at A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.