Kerr Mahan team to win Notah Begay Challenge
Sorenstam had three birdies and playing partner Rickie Fowler added an eagle – all in the first eight holes – before Cristie Kerr and Hunter Mahan rallied with six birdies on the back nine for a 10-under 62 and a two-shot victory at Notah Begay’s NB3 Challenge.
“It all comes down to the back nine because everybody plays well in a format like this,” Kerr said. “It just comes down to who’s gonna make a couple more putts coming in. We were fortunate enough today to do that. We gave ourselves a good look at birdies.”
Kerr and Mahan trailed Sorenstam and Fowler by two shots at the turn before pulling away in the closing holes to win the $100,000 top prize in the best-ball competition at Atunyote Golf Club.
Sorenstam and Fowler (64) were second, followed by Vijay Singh and Suzann Pettersen (66), Camilo Villegas and Anna Rawson (67), Anthony Kim and Morgan Pressel (68), and Begay and Lorena Ochoa (69).
The event is the chief fundraiser for Begay’s foundation, which is dedicated to helping fight obesity and diabetes in the Native American community. He was presented a check for $1.25 million afterward.
“We feel we can make an impact on their lives,” Begay said.
The field was grouped into six mixed teams, with the ladies hitting from the shorter tee boxes.
The 39-year-old Sorenstam, who retired after the 2008 season, apologized to Fowler before they teed off.
“I haven’t played. Sorry, Rickie,” said Sorenstam, who also was preparing for her daughter’s birthday on Wednesday.
There wasn’t much to apologize for.
Shortly after a fan shouted “great to see you back,” Sorenstam hit inside 3 feet at the 198-yard, par-3 third hole for an easy birdie. Not to be outdone, Ochoa matched her with a birdie putt from just inside 10 feet.
At the 185-yard, par-3 sixth hole, Sorenstam and Ochoa both drove into the right rough beside the green. This time, Sorenstam reached back into her glorious past with a beautiful chip that bounced on the green and rolled in the cup for another birdie.
Sorenstam raised both hands in appreciation of the roar of the crowd, which hovered around 3,000 on a hot, hazy day with temperatures in the high 80s, then tossed her ball to a fan and headed for the next tee.
Something happened to Sorenstam’s second shot at the par-4 eighth hole as it landed well short of the green. It didn’t matter when Fowler rattled home a 40-foot uphill eagle putt that put them at 6 under and gave them a two-shot lead over Mahan and Kerr and Begay and Ochoa heading to the back nine.
“I made four birdies, chipped in twice. I’m not complaining, its my best finish all year,” Sorenstam said with a smile. “I love it. It’s always fun to see my friends, but I’m tired. My feet hurt. I’m not used to it. I’m a little rusty.”
Begay and Ochoa made bogey and double-bogey in the first three holes on the back to fall out of contention. Kerr had three birdies on the front nine and five on the back as she and Mahan surged into the lead.
“We gave ourselves a good look at birdies. We leaned on each other all the time,” Kerr said. “We were just having a lot of fun helping each other read putts. I think that’s what this event is all about, teamwork.”
Fowler, who is part Navajo, missed short birdies putt at Nos. 15 and 16 before making birdie at 18 as he and Sorenstam fell just short.
Just being part of the fundraiser was all that mattered to every player.
“I was pumped to be part of it, especially to have Annika as a partner,” Fowler said. “It’s pretty special to be here.”
Ochoa, who retired four months ago at the height of her game, said the transition to private life had been “way easier than I thought.”
“I made the right decision,” she said. “I’m still very competitive. I think I did my job inside the ropes. Now it’s time to work outside the ropes.”
Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018
Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.
Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.
An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.
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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise
Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.
“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.
Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.
“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.
Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.
Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.
“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.
Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy
We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.
This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.
Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.
Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters
SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.
More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.
English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.
''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''
Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend
After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.
The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.
Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.
“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.
In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.
“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”
In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.
“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.
Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.
“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”