Wet Week on Tap at Womens Open

By Associated PressJune 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 U.S. Womens OpenNEWPORT, R.I. -- Newport Country Club is dripping with history.
The links-style course hugs the Atlantic shoreline and is such a throwback that it still doesn't have an irrigation system, relying on Mother Nature to decide whether it plays firm and fast or long and lush. The first major champion in the United States was crowned at Newport in 1895, and the club is one of the five charter members of the USGA.
But on the eve of the U.S. Women's Open, the first professional major at this site in 111 years, history gave way to a bleak forecast: Newport is simply dripping.
The course has received more than 13 inches of rain during the last six weeks, including 3 1/2 inches last weekend. Local fire companies have pumped more than 3 million gallons of water off the course, and some bunkers still resemble small, dirty pools.
'It's going to be a wet, long U.S. Open,' Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition, said Wednesday.
And that might play into hands of Michelle Wie, a young star with another chance to make history at one of oldest clubs in America.
The 16-year-old star from Hawaii is trying to become golf's youngest major champion, although this is nothing new. Wie has been competing in majors since she was 13 and played in the final group of the Kraft Nabisco Championship as an eighth-grader. She has been getting closer to an elusive trophy with every major she plays.
Wie was tied for the lead going into the final round of the U.S. Women's Open a year ago until Cherry Hills sent her crashing to an 82. She had a 25-foot chip for eagle to win the Kraft Nabisco, then missed a 10-foot birdie putt coming back to fall one shot out of a playoff. Three weeks ago at the LPGA Championship, she missed two putts inside 8 feet on the final three holes and narrowly missed another playoff.
'I dream about winning tournaments, making history, and I do think about that kind of stuff,' Wie said. 'But I just can't think about it when I'm playing. I'm very focused. I'm just thinking about the shots that I have to hit, what I have to do for my part, and I'm just going to try my hardest and play my hardest.
'If I end up winning, great,' she added. 'If I don't, I want to end this week knowing that I played my hardest.'
Expectations must be tempered for anyone at the U.S. Women's Open, the biggest event in women's golf.
Morgan Pressel had high expectations a year ago at Cherry Hills, tied for the lead and marching toward her ball in the middle of the 18th fairway. She looked up at the green in time to see Birdie Kim hole a 30-yard bunker shot for birdie to win.
'I was definitely disappointed and it was a letdown because I felt like I was ready,' said Pressel, who turned 18 last month and graduated from high school. 'But you realize that happens in sport.'
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is Annika Sorenstam.
She won back to back at the U.S. Women's Open early in her career, but as Sorenstam took her game to unprecedented heights on the LPGA Tour by winning 44 times in the last five years, she has gone a decade without winning this event. She has hit the wrong shot at the wrong time, and on two occasions, someone else simply played better.
Sorenstam was a late arrival to Newport, and didn't play her first practice round Tuesday. She played Wednesday, and perhaps it was a sign of the tough conditions expected this week. The wind never died, gusting to 20 mph under gray, damp skies.
'I love the fact that course is quite long. I like the fact we're going to get some wind,' Sorenstam said. 'I think it's going to be a great course for this type of a championship.'
The course will play at least 6,564 yards, making it the longest at sea level for the Women's Open. The wet conditions will make Newport feel even longer, and perhaps play into Wie's powerful game.
She was ripping her driver long and straight during a nine holes of practice Wednesday morning, hitting middle irons when those playing with her had to rely on fairway metals.
The USGA had a computerized launch monitor set up behind the 15th hole. Players teed off and then hurried to check their numbers, such as ball speed and launch angle, that showed up on the screen.
Wie frowned when she saw her ball speed at 150 mph -- about 15 mph below her average -- but swing coach David Leadbetter smiled and told her that this week wasn't only about pounding the ball.
'Save that for the 84 Lumber,' he said, referring to the PGA Tour event at Nemacolin Resort in western Pennsylvania where Wie will play in September.
She has played as much against the men as the women this year with mixed results.
Wie made her first cut against the men at the SK Telecom Open on the Asian tour, and had a fighting chance to qualify for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot until her putter betrayed her at Canoe Brook. In her three LPGA events, she has had birdie putts on the last hole to get into a playoff, missing them all.
Wie was asked which would be better -- making the cut on the PGA Tour or winning on the LPGA Tour.
'I would love to win an LPGA major or a tournament,' she said. 'And I would love to make the cut in a men's tournament. I'm not sure which would be a bigger impact on me because it hasn't happened to me before. I'll do both, and I'll tell you which is better.'
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

    Getty Images

    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

    Getty Images

    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

    Getty Images

    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”