Tseng set to defend LPGA Championship title

By Associated PressJune 6, 2012, 6:22 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Sometimes, expectations can create all sorts of problems, even for the top-ranked player in women's golf.

Yani Tseng knows from experience.

With five majors already won and having captured the LPGA Tour Player of the Year award for the second straight year, wrapping it up with four events still on the 2011 calendar, Tseng went into the offseason somewhat awestruck at what she'd accomplished in such a short time and what the future might hold.

''At the beginning of this year, I was putting so much pressure (on myself), the most pressure I've ever had in my whole life,'' said Tseng, who turned pro in 2007 and joined the tour full-time the next year. ''In January, I would just stay home. I wouldn't go out. It was no fun.''

It didn't take long for that to change. After celebrating her 23rd birthday in late January, the Taiwanese star won Thailand for the second straight time and has remained atop the world rankings, a near cinch to win player of the year again.

''I don't feel as much pressure (now), but the people around me, they say ... I'm getting picky, I want to try to be perfect all the time,'' Tseng said. ''But that's not me. The more relaxed I am, the better I play. The week of Thailand, the second week, I kind of calmed down a little bit. That week ... was huge for me. After Thailand, I know that I can still keep the momentum going. At the beginning of this year, I was afraid. I didn't know if I could do it again.''

Not much to worry about. Tseng won three of the first five events on the 2012 LPGA Tour, leads the player of the year rankings by a wide margin over Sun Young Yoo and Stacy Lewis, and enters this week's LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club as the defending champion.

''I didn't expect this. When I win the first (major), I never thought I'm going to win a second major,'' said Tseng, who finished third in the first major this year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, just one shot out of a playoff. ''I never thought about winning five. I never think about it, but now I'm thinking I can win more, of course.''

Tseng's meteoric rise has made her the latest face of women's golf, and she has embraced the demands that go with it.

''She's been accessible, available, and the ambassador at every turn,'' said Kraig Kann, chief communications officer of the LPGA Tour. ''Every opportunity we've given her that we feel like is one that she needs to do, she's done. You can't do everything, but I am so impressed with how she carries herself. She's not afraid, she's not intimidated. Is she perfect at English? No, but most people would have no idea how great at it she really is.

''She's not afraid to communicate the message. She understands that if she's going to be No. 1 in the world, she needs to be that face out front. She needs to be engaging with the fans. She doesn't shy away from anything.''

And that's why the fans who swarm to Locust Hill every year treat her as one of their own. Tseng ran away with last year's LPGA Championship, winning by 10 shots over Morgan Pressel and Cindy Lacrosse.

''Last year when I walked on the 18th hole – I'm pretty emotional – the crowd was amazing,'' Tseng said. ''Everybody stand up and clapped for me. I was like, I don't know for what because I'm not American.''

That victory made Tseng the youngest female golfer in history – 22 years, 4 months and 18 days – to win four major titles. Winning here again will be a challenge if she continues to falter as she has in her last two tournaments. In the Sybase Match Play Championship, she was knocked out in the round of 16, and last week finished tied for 12th at the ShopRite LPGA Classic won by Lewis.

Tseng tees off on Thursday's opening round in a threesome with Lewis, who has won two of her last three starts, and Paula Creamer.

This tournament marks the beginning of a new LPGA effort in social media. Caddies will be sporting bibs with Twitter handles on their backs. Kann says 113 LPGA players have Twitter accounts, including (at)YaniTseng.

The LPGA Championship has been sponsored by Wegmans Food Markets the past three years. The contract is up after this year, but both sides plan to sit down after the tournament to work on a new deal.

''It's got such great history with the LPGA and the Wegman family,'' said Cristie Kerr, who won the 2010 LPGA Championship by a record 12 shots. ''If they end up moving it around, then, you know, it's really a no-lose situation. It's a great golf town for us and obviously great sponsor, so whatever they want to do, we'll do.''

Getty Images

U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

Getty Images

Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

Getty Images

Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

Getty Images

Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."