Notes Womens Open qualifying undergoing changes

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa ' With two of the LPGA Tours marquee names missing from the field for the U.S. Womens Open, the USGA announced a change in its qualifying process for the 2010 event and explained how Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis missed out.
 
The USGA said Wednesday that it is moving from a two-stage qualifying process to a single stage.
 
Mike Davis, the USGAs senior director of rules and competition, said the change will help ensure the qualifying procedure is fair and balanced in terms of which players should and shouldnt have to play to qualify for the championship.
 
Currently, between 68 and 75 players are exempt into the field, and the USGA periodically reviews its exemption rules.
 
We do that because we really want a fair balance between what players are good enough that they shouldnt have to play their way in through qualifying and then we want to keep that balance with all of our championships having a certain number that are out there that you can qualify for, he said.
 
As long as youve got the handicap or the game to file an entry, youve got that dream.
 
The move to a single qualifying stage will be more efficient for the players and officials and help the USGA get qualifying sites, Davis said.
 
Davis prefaced his remarks by citing the absence of Wie and Gulbis, who failed to qualify under any of 10 criteria or receive a special exemption.
 
While the two have only one LPGA title combined, both are fan favorites and two of the most recognizable faces in womens golf. Wie ranks 12th in earnings in her rookie season with more than $435,000 in 11 events, and Gulbis is 33rd with more than $225,000.
 
Both tried and failed to qualify this year.
 
Davis said there was never any serious consideration given to giving Wie a special exemption.
 
The USGA changed its exemption policy for this years championship:
 
  • The low 15 scores and ties in the 2008 Womens Open earned a spot. Previously, the low 20 and ties clinched a spot the following year.
     
  • The top five money winners on the Japan, European and Korean womens tours were exempt. Thats up from three each.
     
  • The top 50 money winners on the LPGA Tour from the previous season gained entrance, up from 40.
     
  • The top 10 on the LPGA Tour money list as of the cutoff date before sectional qualifying automatically got in, down from the top 35. Davis said the reduction in spots was a result of only 10 LPGA events being played before the Womens Open.
     
    The USGA also is looking at the world rankings as a form of exemption into the Womens Open, and has been doing so for a number of years, Davis said.
     
    In mens play, the top 50 in the world rankings get into the U.S. Open.
     
    FULL CIRCLE: Inbee Park is looking forward to playing the Womens Open as the defending champion ' even though shes struggling this season.
     
    The youngest player to win the Open at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days, Park says Saucon Valley Country Club is playing long. And thats just fine with her, because shes driving the ball 15 yards farther than last year, when she outlasted the field at Interlachen Country Club for her first pro victory.
     
    I think it definitely favors the long hitters; the course is playing fairly long, even without any rain, she said.
     
    The 2002 U.S. Girls Junior champion has had a disappointing 2009, missing the cut in four of 13 LPGA events. Her best finish was a tie for 14th at the LPGA Championship last month.
     
    But, the South Korean says her game is rounding into shape, and she likes her chances this week.
     
    I really feel like my game is coming back since last month, she said. Its coming back, and Ive been really preparing myself to play in this event.
     
    This is the event Ive been waiting for all year.
     
    STREAKING: Former Womens Open champion Laura Davies received a special exemption into the 2009 championship, keeping her streak of participating in the national championship alive.
     
    Davies won the 1987 Womens Open, beating Ayako Okamoto and JoAnne Carner in an 18-hole playoff for her first professional victory. She has played in every Open since 1986.
     
    The 20-time LPGA Tour winners last victory came in 2001, at the Wegmans Rochester International. She has struggled on tour this year, making the cut in five of 10 tournaments, with her best finish a tie for 33rd at Phoenix in March.
     
    Davies has been inconsistent at the Womens Open, too. She has missed the cut in eight of the last 12 championships and last played the weekend in 2007, when she tied for 32nd. She does have eight top-15 finishes.
     
    Davies is in the first group off the first tee at 7 a.m. in Thursdays opening round.
     
    RETURN TRIP: The Womens Open is the sixth USGA championship held at Saucon Valley Country Club. The Old Course hosted the 1951 U.S. Amateur, won by Billy Maxwell; the 1983 U.S. Junior Amateur, won by Tim Straub; the 1987 Senior Amateur, won by John Richardson; and two U.S. Senior Opens. Larry Laoretti prevailed in 1992 and Hale Irwin was the winner in 2000.
     
    RECORD ENTRIES: The USGA received a record 1,278 entries for the event, topping the previous mark of 1,251 in 2007.
     
    The total number of entries topped 1,000 for the sixth straight year.
     
    The 156-player field includes 28 amateurs and players from 22 countries.
     
    Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
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    Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

    By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

    Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

    Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

    "I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

    Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

    While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

    "I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

    Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

    Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

    By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

    Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

    In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

    Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

    Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

    Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    “I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

    On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

    Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

    Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of {Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

    Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

    “The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

    Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

    Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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    D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

    By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

    ''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

    The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

    Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

    Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

    ''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

    Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

    Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

    The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

    Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

    ''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

    Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

    Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

    She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

    If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

    ''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

    Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

    Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

    ''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

    Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

    ''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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    Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

    By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

    Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

    One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

    Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.