Eun Hee Ji captures US Womens Open

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa. ' Eun Hee Ji found surprising calm in a double-bogey and a dramatic victory with an improbable birdie.
 
The 20-year-old from South Korea made a lengthy birdie putt on the 72nd hole to emerge from a Sunday scramble with an even-par 71 and claim the U.S. Womens Open.
 
She outlasted playing companion and third-round leader Cristie Kerr, who struggled from the outset in the final round and failed in her bid for a second Womens Open title in three years.
 
Eun Hee Ji
Eun Hee Ji reacts after her birdie on the 72nd hole. (Getty Images)
I didnt even dream about winning this tournament, but, well, I did it, and I think this is going to be one of the most memorable moments in my life, Ji said through an interpreter.
 
Ji recovered from two bogeys in her first four holes and a double-bogey at the 10th, making three birdies over the final six holes to finish at even-par 284 at Saucon Valley Country Club.
 
Another of a legion of South Korean players who were inspired to play the game by 1998 champion Se Ri Pak, Ji claimed the biggest prize in women's golf in just her second try. Last year, she tied for 42nd.
 
She is the second straight South Korean to win the event, following Inbee Park. Countrywoman Birdie Kim claimed the championship in 2005.
 
Candie Kung of Taiwan had a 2-under 69 and was alone in second at 1-over 285.
 
Despite her struggles, Kerr held the lead until the back nine and shot a 4-over 75, tying In-Kyung Kim of South Korea for third at 2-over 286.
 
Ji said the double-bogey at the 10th had a calming effect, and thats when she tried to focus on making a run. She went on to make birdies at 13th, 14th and 18th.
 
Up until that point, Cristie Kerr was so far ahead, I just didnt think anyone was going to be able to catch her, Ji said. But after that double-bogey on No. 10, I basically cleared my mind and said lets go and play out the rest of the round.
 
She punctuated her steady back-nine run on the final hole by driving into the center of the fairway, landing her approach about 20 feet from the pin. She steadied her shaking hands and rolled the birdie try into the center of the cup.
 
Ji said the final putt was about 12 feet, but it looked closer to 20.
 
Ji, who won the 2008 Wegmans LPGA, pumped her fists and embraced caddie Zac Austin after the winning putt dropped. Kerr gave her playing partner a long embrace.
 
Kung had continued a charge into contention she started in the third round when she vaulted from 37th to a tie for fifth. She completed her round before Ji and Kerr and was warming up for a possible playoff appeared headed for a playoff after a 2-under 69 left her at 1-over 285.
 
But Kungs push fell short and she settled for second when Ji rolled in the winner.
 
I was going out there trying to make par all the way around, Kung said. Par is going to be a good score by the end of the week. Even par won the tournament.
 
An inch of rain fell on the Old Course overnight, softening the fairways and making the greens more receptive to shots. But a steady breeze helped dry out the putting surfaces and players continued to struggle on the speedy, undulating greens.
 
Obviously, today wasnt my day, said Kerr, who had 35 putts in the final round. Nothing went in. Even the good putts I hit didnt go in, and thats kind of rough.
 
You need to get that good feeling and that good momentum on the greens at the Open.
 
The 2007 Womens Open champ failed to produce anything similar to the three workmanlike rounds that gave her the only under par round through the first three days and a two-stroke lead over Ji heading into the final round.
 
She had a bogey on the first hole, and had a birdie at the third to get back to 2 under, Kerr had back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth. She dropped into black number for the first time in the championship with a bogey at the 13th.
 
Her troubles continued down the stretch as she rolled a birdie putt past the hole at the 16th and missed the comebacker, settling for a bogey that dropped her to 2 over. She failed to make lengthy birdie putts at the 17th and 18th.
 
Not playing the way I did the last three days, this golf course is pretty much all I can handle, and I just didnt play as well, Kerr said.
 
Brittany Lincicome, who made an eagle putt on the 72nd hole earlier this year to win the Kraft Nabisco, placed fifth after a 1-under 70 left her at 3-over 287.
 
Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa posted a final round 1-over 72, tying for 26th at 9-over 293 and failing in her bid to claim her first Womens Open.
 
Duramed Futures Tour player Jean Reynolds was in the next-to-last pairing, poised to make a run. But she stumbled in the final round, shooting 6-over 77 for an 8-over 292.
 
Jennifer Song was the low amateur, finishing at 7-over 291 after a closing 72.
 
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    Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

    By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

    Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

    Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

    "I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

    Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

    While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

    "I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

    Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

    Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

    By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

    Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

    In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

    Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

    Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

    Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    “I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

    On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

    Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

    Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

    Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

    “The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

    Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

    Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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    D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

    By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

    ''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

    The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

    Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

    Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

    ''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

    Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

    Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

    The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

    Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

    ''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

    Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

    Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

    She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

    If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

    ''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

    Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

    Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

    ''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

    Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

    ''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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    Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

    By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

    Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

    One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

    Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.