Kerr Pressel Give Americans Major Success

By Associated PressJuly 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- They are such good friends that Cristie Kerr picked Morgan Pressel to be one of her bridesmaids when she married in December, and they have much in common.
 
Both groomed their golf games in south Florida, heading straight from high school to the LPGA Tour. Kerr did so 10 years ago, when teens on the tour was not in vogue. Both bare their emotions inside the ropes, shouting instructions at their golf balls in a tone better suited for Fort Bragg.
 
Lately, they have combined to give Americans major success not seen on the LPGA Tour in seven lean years.
 
Pressel became the youngest major champion in LPGA history in April when, at age 18, she played without a bogey over the final 24 holes on a fast, difficult Mission Hills course. Her one-shot victory in the Kraft Nabisco Championship was the first by an American since 1999.
 
Kerr's major was a long time coming.
 
She was 0-for-41 in Grand Slam events until winning the U.S. Women's Open on Sunday at Pine Needles, where she made three clutch par putts and a decisive birdie putt from 18 feet on the 14th hole to beat Lorena Ochoa of Mexico, the No. 1 player in women's golf.
 
It was the first time Americans won multiple majors in an LPGA season since 2000, when 40-year-old Juli Inkster won the LPGA Championship and 37-year-old Meg Mallon captured the final edition of the du Maurier Classic.
 
There weren't many young Americans equipped to take up the baton then.
 
There appears to be no shortage now.
 
'Every year, more and more cute young amateur girls with ribbons in their hair are coming up,' Kerr said. 'It's terrific.'
 
It's not just 12-year-old Alexis Thompson, who became the youngest qualifier of the Women's Open, or 17-year-old Mina Harigae, who showed up at Pine Needles having won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.
 
Take a look at the U.S. Solheim Cup team standings. Seven of the top 10 players are under 30.
 
But a closer look at the leaderboard at Pine Needles, or the last month in majors on the LPGA Tour, shows Americans are nowhere near dominating golf the way they did a decade ago.
 
For the first time in U.S. Women's Open history, there were more foreign-born players than Americans in the field. When the second round finally ended Saturday, as many South Koreans as Americans made the cut ' 24 apiece.
 
Six South Koreans finished in the top 10, compared to two Americans ' Kerr and Pressel. Leading the way was Se Ri Pak, the godmother of golf in her country. Pak was the only South Korean on the LPGA Tour in 1998 when she won the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open as a rookie. Now there are 44.
 
That list doesn't include Brazilian-born Angela Park, the first-round leader at the McDonald's LPGA Championship who made it through 36 holes atop the leaderboard at Pine Needles and tied for second.
 
In-Bee Park, a former U.S. Junior Girls champion, was among five players who finished under par at Pine Needles.
 
One shot behind in sixth place was Ji-Yai Shin, who has been crushing her competition on the Korean LPGA and was one shot out of the lead on the back nine Sunday. It was only her third time on the LPGA Tour, but she has been tested off the golf course. Shin's mother was killed in an accident while taking a younger brother and sister to a birthday party. Shin spent a year sleeping in the hospital to be with them while they recovered. Now No. 11 in the world ranking, Shin looks as though she belongs there.
 
Jee Young Lee played the first two rounds with Juli Inkster and showed plenty of pop in her swing. She won the LPGA Tour event in South Korea in 2005, one year after turning pro.
 
And don't forget what happened three weeks ago at the LPGA Championship.
 
The 54-hole leader was Na On Min, an 18-year-old who was playing in her first major and only her sixth tournament as a professional. She made three straight birdies on the back nine to finish alone in third.
 
Ochoa, of course, continues to be the class of the LPGA Tour, even though she hasn't won a major. She already has won three times this year to rise to No. 1 in the world. Although her drought is now 0-for-23 in the majors, Ochoa wasn't worried. Few players under such pressure to win a major have handled defeat with such peace and dignity.
 
'That's the way I am,' she said. 'There are times when I will really either just be sad or upset. It really hurts when I don't win. But at the same time, it's just life. I'm going to go home now and have a good time with my family, my friends. They came here, and I have no reason to be upset and cry in my room.'
 
The aberration last week was Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who probably should have won the first two majors but settled for the LPGA Championship. She was 7 over through the first six holes and played the next 30 in even par to miss the cut by one.
 
Ditto for Karrie Webb of Australia, who was closing in on Ochoa's No. 1 ranking a month ago, but shot 83 at Pine Needles.
 
Americans no longer dominate the LPGA Tour and probably never will again. The LPGA Tour is too successful and attracts the best players from every corner of the globe. It's no longer a fair fight. Pressel and Kerr did their part, winning two of the first three majors this year.
 
What they could use are some reinforcements with ribbons in their hair.
 
Related Links:
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    Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

    SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

    Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

    Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

    ''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

    Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

    ''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

    Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

    Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

    Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

    The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

    Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

    As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

    Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

    "We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

    Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

    "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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    Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

    There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

    No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

    On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

    The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

    It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    "My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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    Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

    Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

    Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

    What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

    Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

    Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

    Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

    Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.