Open poised to produce another surprising champ

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2010, 2:05 am

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The last test for Louis Oosthuizen was his second shot to the 17th green at St. Andrews, where the pin was planted perilously behind the Road Hole bunker.

He safely sent his 5-iron through the green and onto the 18th tee, where it stopped about six feet away from where Paul Casey was about to hit. Lee Westwood walked over to the ball and acted as though he was going to smash it back at Oosthuizen.

Even that might not have stopped him Saturday in the British Open.

Oosthuizen opened with a nervous bogey, then settled down quickly on another windswept afternoon for a 3-under 69 that gave him a four-shot lead over Casey and a chance to become the first player in 46 years to win his first major at the home of golf.

Ernie Els called him Saturday morning to wish him and well. Gary Player left him a message at his hotel. Maybe it’s time for the 27-year-old Oosthuizen to start thinking he could be the next South African with a claret jug.

“I don’t think anyone was thinking I was going to be up there,” Oosthuizen said. “You’ve heard yourself, no one can actually say my surname, so they don’t even know who I am out there. It’s great being up there. I just want to enjoy everything about it. I loved it out there. It was great fun for me. And hopefully, tomorrow will be the same.”

Oosthuizen (WUHST-hy-zen) was at 15-under 201. A victory Sunday would make him the first player since Tony Lema in 1964 to win his first major at St. Andrews.

“The Open at St. Andrews would be something special,” Oosthuizen said. “It’s one of those things you dream of.”

Casey went out in 31 when the wind was at its strongest, and mostly into his face. He finished off a bogey-free round of 67 that puts him in the final group of a major for the first time. He was at 11-under 205.

Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen carries a 4-shot lead into the final round at the Open Championship. (Getty Images)

It might be a two-man race between players who have never seriously challenged in a major.

Oosthuizen was seven shots clear of Martin Kaymer of Germany, who had a 68 and was alone in third. Another shot behind – and eight shots out of the lead – were Henrik Stenson (67), Alejandro Canizares (71) and Westwood (71), who didn’t make a birdie on the front nine but did well to at least stay in the game.

Americans have won six of the last eight Opens at St. Andrews, but they have disappeared in this one. Dustin Johnson birdied his last two holes for a 69 and was nine shots behind.

Tiger Woods, who won the last two times at St. Andrews by a combined 13 shots, has never been within four shots of the lead all week, and he wasn’t even close Saturday. He had four long eagle putts – only one of them on a par 5 – and three-putted for par on three of them to shoot 73. He was 12 shots behind, sure to match his longest start to the season without a victory in his seventh tournament.

“I’m playing better than my position,” said Woods, who was tied for 18th. “I certainly have had a lot more putts on the greens that I ever have, and that’s something that has basically kept me out of being in the final few groups.”

Phil Mickelson, who had a chance at the start of the week to go to No. 1 in the world, was another shot behind. Whatever momentum he had was lost with a 5-iron that he hooked out-of-bounds for a double bogey on No. 16 for a 70.

The South African heritage at golf’s oldest championship dates to Bobby Locke winning four times in a nine-year stretch after World War II. Player won the claret jug three times, and Els was the most recent in 2002.

Oosthuizen, whose career was made possible by the Ernie Els Foundation at Fancourt, recalls watching highlights of the Big Easy’s tough win at Muirfield and getting goosebumps.

All he felt on the first hole Saturday were nerves.

He had to wait 28 hours from his last putt on Friday to his opening shot Saturday – “It felt like a week-and-a-half,” he said – and Oosthuizen promptly three-putted for bogey as his lead shrunk to two shots. Considering it was only the second time he made it to the weekend at a major, it looked as though it wouldn’t be long before he wilted from the pressure.

Instead, he eased his way along the humps and mounds, flashing that gap-tooth smile and following Els’ advice to enjoy himself. Oosthuizen picked up his first birdie on the seventh hole, then added a surprise birdie late in his round with a 60-foot putt.

Even with a four-shot lead – the largest 54-hole lead in the Open since Woods led by six shots in 2000 – the real test comes Sunday.

“I’m loving the fact I’m playing absolutely great golf and I’m four shots being Louis,” Casey said.

Casey ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch early in his round, and he got as close as one-shot with a two-putt birdie on the ninth. But he had to settle for nothing better than par on the back nine, missing a 5-foot birdie on the 18th.

“I’m having a great time, and I’m going to go out there tomorrow and enjoy myself and have a good attitude,” Casey said. “I know what this golf course can do. It can give you some great moments, and it can give you some horrible ones.”

A few weird moments, too.

Miguel Angel Jimenez added another highlight to the infamous Road Hole when he turned his back on the green and banged a shot off the waist-high wall, where it caromed back over the road, up a slope and onto the green.

Mark Calcavecchia wound up with a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 fifth hole when he hit into a gorse bush, played a provisional for a lost ball, picked up his provision shot when he heard the ball was found, then learned that the ball wasn’t his. That explains his 77, which sent the 50-year-old tumbling down the leaderboard.

Woods also hit into the gorse for a bogey on the fifth. On the next hole, he hit a low shot to the front of the green for a birdie chance, but the wind blew it some 20 yards back into the fairway before he got there.

Moments like those might be enough to give Westwood hope.

Johnson had a three-shot lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open and shot 82. The largest comeback in British Open history is 10 shots by Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie, but that required a debacle by Jean Van de Velde on the last hole.

“Strange things have been happening this week,” Westwood said. “It can be done – we know that. It depends on the weather. If it’s a miserable, windy day, anything can happen. But Louis and Paul look like they are playing well.”

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”