Kerr Holds Off Ochoa for Title

By Associated PressJuly 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- Even with the silver trophy at her side, Cristie Kerr felt uneasy sharing the premonition she had all year about coming to Pine Needles and winning the U.S. Women's Open.
 
She might not have scripted it quite like this.
 
With a swing she spent the weekend trying to fix, Kerr played the final 45 holes with only two bogeys. She three-putted only once all week on the treacherous Donald Ross greens by using a putter she purchased at a pro shop in South Korea.
 
Cristie Kerr
Cristie Kerr holds tight to her U.S. Women's Open trophy. (Getty Images)
And going head-to-head with the No. 1 player in the world Sunday afternoon, Kerr drilled an 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole to take the lead and then watched as Lorena Ochoa made another series of mistakes down the stretch in a major.
 
'When I stepped on the grounds this week, it was just magic,' Kerr said after closing with a 1-under 70 for a two-shot victory over Ochoa and Angela Park to end her 0-for-41 drought in the majors.
 
'Going head-to-head with Lorena and beating her ... it was special memories. You can't make this stuff up,' she said. 'These are thing you take to the grave and you just smile about.'
 
It was all too familiar for Ochoa.
 
With a chance to capture her first major and remove any doubt about who's the best in her sport, Ochoa struggled again with a quick swing under pressure and failed to hit a green in regulation over the final five holes.
 
'It hurts, but I did everything I could,' Ochoa said.
 
The 25-year-old Mexican star closed with a 71 to tie for second with Park, an 18-year-old rookie who birdied the final hole for a 70. Morgan Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, was two shots behind with five holes remaining until playing them in 5 over par for a 77, leaving the course in tears.
 
The celebration belonged to Kerr, who dropped to her knees and cried after tapping in for par on the final hole. She tossed her golf ball to fans who had circled the green, then leapt into the arms of her husband, Erik Stevens.
 
Kerr finished at 5-under 279 and earned $560,000 for her 10th career victory.
 
'It's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,' she said.
 
Kerr had been left out of most conversations about top young American players, with most of the attention going to Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Pressel. No one can ignore her now, not with her name ready to be engraved right below Annika Sorenstam on the biggest trophy in women's golf.
 
'I don't know if slighted was the right word; maybe overlooked a little bit,' Kerr said. 'But the media is the media, and they'll write that they want to write. I know in my heart of hearts who I am and how many wins I have and what I've done. And that's good enough for me.'
 
Ochoa will have to wait until the Women's British Open at St. Andrews for her next shot at winning a major, which is quickly turning into a bigger burden than she imagined. She's now 0-for-23 in the tournaments that define careers.
 
'I don't need to be frustrated,' Ochoa said. 'We still have one more major, and I'm going to try to get that one.'
 
Storm delays forced 63 players to return at dawn Sunday to complete the third round, and Kerr promptly made bogey. She didn't make many more mistakes after that, and her only other bogey on a steamy, sunny day in the sand hills came from a bunker on the eighth hole of the final round that dropped her into a tie with Ochoa.
 
They each made par on the next five holes, with Ochoa missing a great birdie chance from 8 feet on the 13th. It was typical of her long day, which began with Ochoa missing three putts inside 7 feet at the end of the third round, two of them for par.
 
Then came the decisive birdie on No. 14, where Kerr ripped a drive and hit 4-iron from 190 yards that hopped onto the green and stopped about 18 feet behind the cut.
 
'If you hit a good shot, you can put some pressure on the other person,' Kerr said. 'I ended up hitting an unbelievable shot and making an unbelievable putt.'
 
After Kerr's birdie on the 14th, Ochoa never hit another green in regulation.
 
She tends to miss to the left under pressure, a flaw that exposed itself again in the late afternoon. Ochoa went left into a bunker on the par-5 15th, a hole she could have reached in two from the fairway. She had to save par from 15 feet to stay in the game.
 
The pivotal moment came on No. 17, one of the toughest at Pine Needles.
 
Kerr hit a draw around the dogleg left into the fairway, leaving her only a 7-iron to the green. Ochoa, as she did in the morning, tried to hammer a driver over the trees, but the ball nicked the top of the trees, dropping into a bunker. Ochoa caught her fairway metal heavy and moved it only 60 yards, hit a solid shot to 20 feet but missed the par putt.
 
'I was trying to put the ball on the green and just swung a little bit too fast, and I hit the ball on the top,' Ochoa said of her 5-wood out of the bunker. 'It happens.'
 
That gave Kerr a two-shot lead heading to the 18th, and she drilled another one right down the middle, then followed that with an approach safely on the green and a lag to 2 feet.
 
'When I hit it up there close, I had known I had won,' she said. 'It was hard to fight back the tears, because I had envisioned this since I was a little girl.'
 
This major was a long time coming for Kerr, a pioneer of sorts for women who now routinely skip college. She turned pro when she graduated high school, won in her sixth year on tour and has not finished out of the top five on the LPGA money list the last three years.
 
Kerr got into contention by finishing off a 66 in the morning to take a one-shot lead, and she never wavered. Ochoa had a chance to share the 54-hole lead until she three-putted for bogey from 30 feet, settling for a 68 that left her tied with Pressel (69).
 
Ochoa had ample opportunities, but her best putts were for par.
 
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    Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

    Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

    Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



    "I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

    Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

    But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

    "What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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    Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

    Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

    And now, Greg Norman.

    Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

    He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

     

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    DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

    With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

    Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

    Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

    Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

    16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

    20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

    100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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    Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

    Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

    “We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

    “The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

    The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

    (All Times Local)

    Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

    Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

    Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

    Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

    Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

    Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

    NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.