Weather Causing Havoc at Pine Needles

By Associated PressJune 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- Annika Sorenstam stood in the ninth fairway next to her bag, sizing up how far she was from her final hole on a troublesome day at the U.S. Women's Open.
 
Then came a sound that has become all too familiar. And no, it wasn't a big cheer.
 
An air horn, the most annoying sound in golf, resonated across Pine Needles on Friday to signal another delay brought on by lightning. Sorenstam bowed her head and walked toward shelter.
 
No one hit another shot the rest of the day at a tournament that can't seem to get started.
 
'It's brutal,' said Juli Inkster, playing in the group behind Sorenstam. 'Now we have to get up at 5 in the morning to play one hole. It's just been start and stop, start and stop. And tomorrow might be worse. It's a crapshoot.'
 
When play was suspended amid the rumble of thunder, only 25 out of 156 players had finished the second round. It was to resume at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, although USGA official Mike Davis made no guarantees.
 
Strong storms were expected through the night and into the morning.
 
'This area has gone for weeks on end without any kind of weather. And bring the USGA to town, and it's amazing how we can change weather patterns,' Davis said.
 
The plan was for the third round to begin as early as 3:30 p.m. Saturday, after the cut had been made.
 
Not much changed on the leaderboard from Thursday when there was a 3 1/2 -hour delay -- an 18-year-old named Park was the clubhouse leader.
 
It was Angela Park after the first round, although she didn't hit a shot on Friday. Her good friend, In-Bee Park, bogeyed two of the last four holes for a 73 that put her at even-par 142.
 
She was one shot ahead of Kris Tamulis, who shot 71.
 
Angela Park could also claim the clubhouse lead, since she rarely left except to warm up on the range. She remains at 3 under.
 
'I'm just having a good time relaxing at the locker room,' she said. 'I'm very calm and eager to play the next three rounds.'
 
On the course, nerves were frayed.
 
Candie Kung tapped in a putt on the 18th hole a split-second before the horn sounded to stop play, so she became the 25th player to complete the second round. Janice Moodie of Scotland also had a tap-in, but under the rules for dangerous weather, she was not allowed to finish. Moodie will return in the morning to putt out, then wait until about 5 p.m. to hit her next shot.
 
Sorenstam left before speaking to the media, but no doubt she wanted to put this day behind her.
 
One day after Karrie Webb opened with an 83 for the worst score of her career, Sorenstam looked as though she might join her.
 
She finished off a 1-under 70 in the morning, then after a quick turnaround, began her second round with a double bogey when a chip up the slope on the 10th hole came back to her feet. She blew another chip some 18 feet by the hole, found the bunker with a sand wedge on the par-5 15th and went out in 42 to fall off the leaderboard.
 
Sorenstam was 7 over through 10 holes until she steadied herself, and a birdie on No. 8 brought her to 5 over for the tournament.
 
Two players not many people expected to see beyond Friday made it to the weekend under such circumstances.
 
Alexis Thompson, the 12-year-old from south Florida who became the youngest qualifier in history, chipped in for birdie from 40 yards to complete a respectable 76 in the morning, but her round got away from her in the afternoon. She was 12 over with five holes remaining, including some of the toughest at Pine Needles.
 
'It's pretty cool, being here another day,' she said.
 
The other is Michelle Wie, who opened with an 82 and didn't get past the practice range Friday.
 
The biggest spectacle might have been the dozen Japanese photographers scrambling in the parking lot to get pictures of Ai Miyazato, the biggest golf sensation in Japan.
 
On the course, action was limited.
 
In-Bee Park, a former U.S. Junior Girls champion, struggled to keep her tee shots in the fairway, but got enough good bounces to keep her round together and post a two-day score of even par. And she finished, which was enough cause for celebration.
 
'I think it took us like 10 hours to play yesterday, so I think it was a lot shorter day today,' she said.
 
Inkster put together a remarkable turnaround. After a four-putt double bogey on Thursday in the middle of her first round, she dropped six shots in a four-hole span when she returned and completed a 78.
 
The two-time Women's Open champion was 10 over for the tournament through nine holes of the second round when she two-putted from 12 feet for birdie on No. 1, then fired off three straight birdies, finishing with a chip-in on the fifth. She had a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 8 when the horn blew.
 
Lorena Ochoa and Morgan Pressel were among those who did not tee off, still at even par. Pressel was brought into the television booth for an interview and went over highlights from the day before.
 
'It's funny to listen to you talk about my round yesterday because I can't remember it. It was so long ago,' she said. 'It seems like I've just been around here forever and hoping we might hit our first tee shot today. It's going to be a marathon weekend.'
 
And it's going to be an early wake-up for so many players.
 
Paula Creamer was in the 18th fairway, no more than 10 minutes from calling it a day. She was at 4 over.
 
'Obviously, it gets annoying after a while, but it is what it is,' Creamer said. 'We get pulled off for 20 minutes or so, then get back on. It's difficult. But I guess you just have to go with the flow.'
 
Related Links:
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He will return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finished worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.