Webb Back in the Mix at McDonalds

By Associated PressJune 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 McDonaldWILMINGTON, Del. -- Karrie Webb walked away from the LPGA Championship three years ago with another runaway victory in a major that made her, at age 26, the youngest woman to complete the career Grand Slam. Her game was the best in women's golf. So much has changed in the last few years that even though Webb arrived at DuPont Country Club having won for the 30th time on the LPGA Tour, she is taking baby steps back to the top.
Her goal still is to win majors, but right now she is realistic while she continues to make swing changes.
'I think for the first time in my career, I have someplace to go,' Webb said Wednesday. 'I finished 11th on the money list last year. It's not a bad year by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't my best.
'I wanted to get back to being a lot more consistent. I wanted to bet back to the top five on the money list, definitely the top 10.'
The swing - still a work in progress - has Webb hitting more of a fade, the total opposite of how she once hit the ball while dominating the LPGA Tour from the time she arrived from Australia nine years ago.
Eventually, she believes she will be able to hit the ball both directions with ease. But that takes time.
'I think it's going to be 12 months to 18 months before I really feel comfortable with what I'm doing,' Webb said.
That's not to say she ruled herself out at DuPont.
She won the Kellogg-Keebler Classic outside Chicago by five shots, a large margin for a 54-hole event. The fairways started looking wider, the cup bigger.
'It didn't hurt my confidence any,' she said.
So many others are loaded with confidence at the second major of the LPGA season.
It starts with Annika Sorenstam, the most dominant player in more than 40 years on the LPGA Tour. While her goal of the Grand Slam this year ended with a tie for 13th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the 33-year-old Swede now wants to win the final three majors.
She is the defending champion at the McDonald's LPGA Championship, and still recalls the 7-wood she hit into the 18th green to secure par and get into a playoff, where she defeated Grace Park on the first extra hole.
'Wonderful memories,' Sorenstam said.
Not so for Park, the 25-year-old native of South Korea who also will be a top favorite this week.
Park was playing a practice round at DuPont earlier in the week when she came to the 18th and swore she was in about the same spot in the fairway as she was last year in the playoff.
It made her wonder why she tried to hammer a 4-iron when she had been hitting controlled, punch shots with more club throughout the final round of 67. In a sense, Park feels like she let that one get away.
And she has promised not to do it again.
So far, that's worked.
Three months ago, she holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Mission Hills to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of her career and a clear sign the awesome potential she showed as an amateur is ready to come to fruition.
'Finishing second here last year makes me want to win this more,' she said. 'Winning the first major of the year makes me crave my second major. I really want to do it. Since winning Kraft Nabisco, I've kind of slowed down, and I think it's finally time for me to step up again.
'This is the week to do it.'
Second on the money list and in the player of the year standings, Park comes into the LPGA Championship with another 'No. 2' in mind - trying to capture the second leg of the Grand Slam.
Her life has been geared toward this. Born in South Korea, she moved to the United States when she was 12 to learn how to play golf. She won an NCAA title at Arizona State, and in 1998 joined Patty Berg as the only women to sweep the top three women's amateur events in one year.
Unlike the instant success enjoyed by Se Ri Pak (two majors as a rookie) and Webb, Park's progress has been slow. She has never won more than one tournament in a season, and that remains the case this year.
Then again, her lone title was a major, and her peers expect greatness to follow.
'I've always respected Grace's game,' Sorenstam said. 'And most of all, I really like her attitude. She's very motivated. It was just a matter of time for Grace to win the first major. I don't think anybody was surprised.'
The McDonald's LPGA Championship has a recent history of bringing out the best in women's golf.
Pak has won twice here in the last six years, and she is as big a threat to Sorenstam as anyone. Juli Inkster won back to back at the LPGA Championship and, two weeks before her 44th birthday, has not shown any signs of slowing down.
They face a DuPont course that has some of the thickest rough they will see all year, including the U.S. Women's Open in three weeks. The greens have subtle contours that are difficult to read. Twice since 2000, the winner has shot over par in the final round.
'It's a true test,' Sorenstam said.
Related Links:
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    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

    Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

    Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

    Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

     This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


    -NBC Sports Group-

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    Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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    Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

    He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

    The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

    He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

    “I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

    It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

    For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

    Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

    In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

    Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

    For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

    “You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

    But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

    “At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

    In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

    His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

    As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

    “We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

    “Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

    It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

    Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

    “Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

    If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

    Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

    Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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    DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

    By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

    DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

    “Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”

    Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

    While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

    “It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”