New Venue Same Old Story

By Associated PressJune 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 McDonaldHARVE DE GRACE, Md. -- A dozen or so fans chased after a cart that whisked Annika Sorenstam away from the 18th green at Bulle Rock on a steamy Tuesday, thrusting flags and caps for her to sign. She is the center of attention wherever she goes, even if it might take her awhile to figure out where she is.
Sorenstam won the LPGA Championship the last two years about 40 miles up the road at DuPont Country Club, but the environment is much different this time.
It starts with the golf course.
Gone are the tree-lined fairways of DuPont, not to mention the inflatable Ronald McDonald atop the clubhouse. Bulle Rock is a Pete Dye design that asks players to navigate from Point A to Point B, with fairways framed by rough that covers the shoes and greens that break fast and sharp around the cup.
``You've really got to be able to control the ball this week. That's the key,'' Sorenstam said. ``It's a true course for a major championship, I think. You have got to have all your game here.''
The field was increased by six players to 150, in part so that title sponsor McDonald's could get 15-year-old Michelle Wie a tee time. The criteria was changed this year to invite ``a leading amateur'' for the first time in the 51-year history of the LPGA Championship, and no one was surprised it went to Wie.
``All I did was receive it,'' Wie said. ``It's not like we lobbied for it. They gave it to us, and it was a great privilege to accept it.''
Still, the biggest change is what's at stake.
The McDonald's LPGA Championship, which starts Thursday, is the second stop on what Sorenstam hopes will make her the first person to win the professional Grand Slam in one calendar year.
That's all she has talked about for two years. And after winning the first major in March at the Kraft Nabisco Championship -- by eight shots, no less -- that's all anyone is talking about.
``She said she wanted to do it, and now she's the only one who has a chance,'' Meg Mallon said. ``To call your shot and then do it would be pretty amazing.''
Along with winning the first major, Sorenstam has won five of her first seven tournaments. The exceptions were at Kingsmill, where she was going for a record sixth consecutive victory and tied for 12th; and the Corning Classic, where she had the flu and tied for second.
``Obviously, if she's on the top of her game, she's going to be in contention come Sunday,'' Cristie Kerr said.
Despite her 61 career victories -- 38 in the last five years -- and winning the Nabisco in such overwhelming fashion, majors have not always come easily for Sorenstam. Two years ago was the first time she won two majors in a single season, the LPGA and the Women's British Open to complete the career Grand Slam.
Still, the 34-year-old Swede is not shy about her goals.
``I don't walk around every day saying, 'I want to win the Grand Slam,''' she said. ``I know it, and I'm going to try to do the best I can and prepare as much as I can. If you look at the last two weeks, I think I'm as ready as I can be. Who knows what will happen this week?''
The hunch is that she will be there late Sunday afternoon, as she usually is.
There have been sporadic challengers, from Kerr winning at Kingsmill to 18-year-old Paula Creamer winning last month at the Sybase Classic, although Sorenstam took that week off.
And if there are comparisons to Tiger Woods' dominance when he won four straight majors at the end of 2000 and the Masters in 2001, history might show competition is on the way.
``There's a lot of players out here that can hang with her now,'' Kerr said, although she didn't have a stack of evidence at her side. ``We're not seeing those kinds of players breaking through and winning yet, but we're very close. She's the best player in the world, but we're all pretty good, too, and we're all ready to challenge.''
The primary challenge will be the course, which features what is believed to the be longest par 5 in women's golf, the 596-yard 11th hole, which plays slightly downhill.
Bulle Rock was the name of a stud horse that James Samuel Patton brought to this continent in the 1730s. He is said to be the father of all thoroughbred horses in America.
Length might be an issue if the course doesn't recover from Monday night storms that drenched the fairways, eliminating the roll and leaving some balls on slopes. The good news for players is that tee shots slightly off line are not running through fairways into rough so deep that the only option is to hack out.
``It's a great major course, and hopefully I can play good on it,'' Wie said.
The phenom from Hawaii is making news even before hitting a shot. Wie has gotten her fill of sponsor's exemptions on the LPGA Tour -- even two on the PGA Tour this year -- but the LPGA Championship has always been for pros, not for someone who just finished the 10th grade.
``I understand what they're saying, but I'm just excited to be here,'' Wie said. ``So, it's good.''
Everyone is hopeful of a good week at Bulle Rock, a course they won't really know until they start keeping score.
Sorenstam is aiming higher than most. She wants this week to be part of something grand.
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”