Déjà Vu All Over Again at McDonalds LPGA

By Associated PressJune 9, 2007, 4:00 pm
McDonalds LPGAHARVE DE GRACE, Md. -- Hardly anyone recognized the name Na On Min on the leaderboard, and even more surprising was the number of birdies she strung together Saturday at the LPGA Championship.
 
When the 18-year-old from South Korea finished a 7-under 65, she was poised to make a name for herself in the record books.
 
Karrie Webb
Karrie Webb is trying to atone for last year's playoff loss. (Getty Images)
Playing in only her sixth professional tournament and her first major championship, Min ran off four birdies on the last six holes for the best round this week at Bulle Rock, giving her a one-shot lead over Suzann Pettersen and a chance to become the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history.
 
Only 10 weeks ago, Morgan Pressel became the tour's youngest major champion by winning the Kraft Nabisco. Pressel was a decorated amateur, however, and nearly won the U.S. Women's Open two years earlier.
 
Min didn't even learn to play golf until she was 12. Like other South Korean juniors, she was inspired by the success of Se Ri Pak, whose Hall of Fame career began at this tournament 10 years ago.
 
'I'm just really excited,' said Min, who was at 10-under 206. 'This is my first major. I'll do my best to keep focus on each shot.'
 
She will play in the final group with Pettersen, who recovered from two double bogeys and her torturously slow play -- it took more than 4 1/2 hours as a twosome -- to shoot 71.
 
Karrie Webb stayed in the mix with a 10-foot par save on the 17th hole and shot 71. She was two shots behind at 208, along with Angela Park (68), another 18-year-old rookie.
 
Pressel, bidding for the second leg of the Grand Slam, shot 70 and was only three shots behind.
 
Asked if she knew who Min was, Pressel was honest as ever.
 
'I did not,' she said.
 
But the score sure got her attention. Wind that brushed off overnight rain stuck around Bulle Rock and made it play as tough as it has all week. Min wasn't the least bit bothered, overcoming a bogey on the par-5 second hole by keeping the ball in play, and close to the hole.
 
Michelle Wie finished before the leaders even arrived at Bulle Rock, and left unanswered whether she would return. She shot 83, her highest score against men or women since she was in the ninth grade, and was in last place among 84 players. Her left wrist, which she broke during a fall in late January, clearly bothered her and Wie wrapped it in ice after signing her card.
 
'I really want to play,' she said. 'I just have to see how it goes tonight.'
 
Among those still with a chance is Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 player in the women's golf. She birdied her last hole for a 69, hopeful it would give her a chance. Moments later, Min finished off her 65 and was five shots clear of Ochoa.
 
'Five shots is not too far behind. It's been done before,' Ochoa said.
 
Like several players, Ochoa was not too familiar with Min, and for good reason.
 
She went to South Africa at age 12 to spend two years learning to play golf and speak English, played on the South Korean amateur team and then went to LPGA Q-school as an amateur. She missed her card by two shots and was given non-exempt status.
 
Min tried Monday qualifying without much luck, and finally made her pro debut in Mexico, where she tied for fifth. Min did well enough at the Sybase Classic and Corning Classic to earn a spot in the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
 
And she's making the most of it.
 
She birdied two of the toughest par 3s, Nos. 3 and 12, with putts inside 10 feet and hit 6-iron to 12 feet on the par-4 13th, a hole where Pettersen took one of her double bogeys.
 
Pettersen, deliberating over every shot and every putt, looked as though she might build a big lead, taking advantage of the wind and her power to birdie two of the first four holes and stretch her margin to three shots. She reached in two at the par-5 second with a 3-wood that hopped out of the rough and up 6 feet onto the green, and a wedge on the fourth spun sideways to 6 feet.
 
The par 5s were friend and foe, however.
 
Pettersen went for the eighth green in two, even though the stiff breeze was into her, and it sailed right into grass up to her knees, the lie so buried that she had to stand over the ball and stoop over just to see it. She did well to hack it out across the fairway to the collar or a bunker, chipped nicely to 4 feet but missed the putt and turned birdie into bogey.
 
As Kim and Min surged ahead of her, Pettersen answered with more power. With the wind at her back and 255 yards to the hole, she hit 3-wood on the 11th and watched it bound onto the green and stop 6 feet behind the cup for eagle, giving her a one-shot lead.
 
But she pulled a tee shot into high weeds on the 13th and had to take an unplayable lie, leading to double bogey. Pettersen made a birdie on the 17th to at least get her in the final group with a player nobody knows -- for now.
 
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    Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

    Bernhard Langer did not.

    The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

    "You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

    Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

    "I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

    Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

    As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

    "I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

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    Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

    Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

    Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

    Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

    “To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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    Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

    Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

    Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

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    Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

    The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

    The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

    After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

    “I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”