Notes Pressel in Right Spot For Dramatic Endings

By Associated PressJune 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
McDonaldHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- The LPGA Tour has delivered some dramatic conclusions to their majors during the last year'notably Birdie Kim holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole at the U.S. Womens Open, and Karrie Webb holing out a 116-yard wedge from the 18th fairway for eagle to get into a playoff at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
The common thread? Morgan Pressel watched them both.
 
Pressel was in the 18th fairway, tied for the lead at the Womens Open when she saw Kim make an improbable birdie.
 
I had put myself in a great position and just kind of watched it all disappear quickly, Pressel said Tuesday. But thats what happens. That happens in sport all the time.
 
It happened again at Mission Hills. This time, Pressel was well out of contention but paired with Webb, who wound up shooting 65. Pressel cant recall a better shot than the wedge struck by Webb.
 
It was one line from the moment it came off her club face, Pressel said. You can just tell. And the way that hole was set up with everybody on the right side and this huge stadium setting, it was the weirdest feeling. Even over my birdie putt, I was still shaking after having watched that shot. It was really neat.
 
Her goal to witness another spectacular ending of her own doing.
 
WIE RECOVERS
Michelle Wie arrived at Bulle Rock last Monday and played practice rounds for the LPGA Championship until leaving for Canoe Brook in New Jersey to start getting ready for the U.S. Open qualifier.
 
She finished at 1-over 143 after the 36-hole qualified and missed out on a playoff by five shots.
 
No wonder she showed up Tuesday at Bulle Rock looking like she needed a day off.
 
I felt like I was 80 years old when I woke up this morning because I couldnt move, the 16-year-old from Hawaii said. And Im a little bit stiff today. Im a little bit sore. But I think if I stretch well today that Im feeling my energy level is really up right now.
 
The LPGA Championship created a criteria for Wie last year, allowing an amateur to play for the first time. She finished second, three shots behind Sorenstam. This time, she made it into the field as a pro because of her top finishes in the majors last year.
 
OPEN AND SHUT
The U.S. Open isnt for everybody, especially those who have been through its rigors.
 
Paul Azinger didnt bother entering U.S. Open qualifying this year, and it wasnt an oversight. He tied for 29th in the 97 PGA Championship at Winged Foot, then played their last year during the week of the Barclays Classic.
 
All I know is I played my 18 holes there last year and decided I wasnt even going to qualify, Azinger said. I was playing terrible, and it just seemed too hard. And I dont need that beating.
 
Azinger last played a U.S. Open in 2002 at Bethpage Black. He is using a one-time exemption from career money to play the PGA Tour this year, and is in his last year with ABC in the broadcast booth. His schedule is important, and even after a 10th-place finish at the Memorial, he had no regrets.
 
I stuck to my guns on that one, Azinger said. Im hitting it great, but I need a week off. And thats a good week to take off. Because that week will take two weeks out of you.
 
Beth Daniels case is different.
 
She is entered in the U.S. Open qualifier outside Baltimore on Monday, but never had any intention of playing. When she turned in her entry form, when asked to mark where she would like to play sectional qualifying, Daniel wrote Top 35 on the LPGA money list.
 
That meant two things. She hoped she would be exempt through the money list, and she wasnt about to qualify. She is playing a major this week, and would be have to play 36 holes on a course she would not have no time to see before the qualifier.
 
Besides, the 49-year-old Daniel is already in the Hall of Fame.
 
Perhaps these words from her mother persuaded her not to bother'Youre usually miserable that week.
 
Then there was John Daly, who withdrew from the U.S. Open qualifier in Columbus. He had other plans Monday, playing in Jim Furyks charity exhibition Monday called the Exelon Invitational. Daly won six skins worth $130,000, which is probably $130,000 more than he might have earned at Winged Foot.
 
WETTERICHS OPENS
Brett Wetterich is having a terrific year, but it might not include golfs two oldest majors.
 
He appeared to have qualified for the British Open as among the top three on the PGA TOUR money list not otherwise exempt through Memphis, but the PGA TOUR player handbook incorrectly listed the cutoff for the world ranking criteria on the same date.
 
In fact, the top 50 from the world after the Memorial were exempt.
 
Three players in the top 50 were ahead of Wetterich on the money list'Arron Oberholser, Rory Sabbatini and Rod Pampling'and got the exemption from that category. And when the world ranking came out Monday after the Memorial, Wetterichs tie for second moved him up to No. 54.
 
That day, he went to U.S. Open qualifying in Columbus and failed to make it.
 
DIVOTS
The security officer assigned to Michelle Wie this week at the LPGA Championship wore a white cap Tuesday with Morgan Pressels autograph on the bill. ... There was a Steve Williams sighting in Columbus, Ohio, last week before the Memorial, which made no sense considering his boss, Tiger Woods, wasnt playing and the caddie lives in New Zealand. But it turned out to be true. Williams was there to do an outing with Valvoline, his top sponsor as a race car driver. ... More renovations are under away on the Blue Monster at Doral. With a World Golf Championship coming in March the greens will be redone with TifEagle Bermuda, and the bunkers will be renovated. As long as the tour doesnt tinker with the Monster Grill, where burgers are served behind the 18th green, the players probably wont mind. ... Retief Goosen and David Howell have signed endorsement deals with CA, title sponsor of the WGC event at Doral.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Vijay Singh has failed to finish under par in his last three tournaments, the first time he has done that in regular PGA Tour events since 1998.
 
FINAL WORD
I just earned a ticket to hell.'Mark Brooks, after qualifying for the U.S. Open.
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

Getty Images

Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.