The Hawaiian Connection

By Brian HewittJune 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- Mary Bea Porter played and won on the LPGA Tour. She is a former member of the USGAs Executive Committee. And she is easily the most influential person when it comes to the running of championship golf events in the Hawaiian Islands.
More important this week, in the context of the U.S. Womens Open that begins Thursday at Interlachen Country Club, Mary Bea Porter ran a junior golf program that once included a couple of little Hawaiian girls named Michelle Wie and Kimberly Kim.
Wie is 18 now and an internationally-known player trying to come all the way back from a wrist injury that ruined her 2007 season. Kim is 16 and two years removed from winning the U.S. Womens Amateur.
Thursday and Friday they will be playing in the same grouping at Interlachen.
Kimberly could actually beat Michelle way back then, Porter said. And Im not sure even now whether she knows how good she could be. Shes completely oblivious to outside pressures. And if nobody tries to change what comes naturally to her, she will become a great player. I wouldnt be surprised if she has the lower score (than Wie) after 36 holes.
Which is not to say Porter wishes any ill toward Wie, whose game has shown signs of a renaissance in recent weeks.
I will be rooting for both of them, Porter said.
The grouping of Wie, Kim and Julieta Granada goes off the first tee at Thursday at 8:17 a.m.

Asked what she learned during the time she tried to play hurt, Wie said, I guess the best advice was just to keep smiling. As easy as it sounds, it was really hard to do. I guess that one simple motion changes a lot of things. I smile through practice, smile through the hard times.
Defending champion Cristie Kerr could relate. She struggled early in her career with expectations and getting along with other players. She is outgoing now and popular among many of the other players.
And she appreciates and understands golf architecture. Her U.S. Womens Open victory last year came at Pine Needles, a Donald Ross design. Ross also designed Interlachen.
I think he had a sense of humor about golf, Kerr said. As you can see by his golf courses.
The players this week are going to have to retain their sense of humor on the greens that course set-up guy Mike Davis said Wednesday will be stimping in the low 12s.
That means players will not want to be above the hole anywhere on the course. And if they arent careful on the ninth hole, Davis said, they will be lucky to make bogey even if they have hit the par 4 in regulation.

The old Cristie Kerr might not have taken time to acknowledge Wies presence, much less welcome her return. Todays Cristie Kerr offered these words of encouragement:
Im just happy shes doing better now, Kerr said. She seems to be in a little bit better place with her injury and being able to practice and come back. I think a little time off actually did her good because shes been grinding since she was 10 years old to try to become a professional by the age of 16. And thats something a lot of people cant really understand. So Im glad to see shes doing better. Shes good for the game.

The notion has been posited by, among others, E-Mailers to the GOLF CHANNEL, that Tiger Woods could win the FedExCup even though hes finished playing competitive golf for the year. The idea here is that Tiger could still be leading the points race after the reset which would put him at 100,000 points.
Not possible, said Steve Dennis of the PGA TOUR, in an E-mail to GOLF CHANNEL. Because of the tightened reset and increased points awarded in the Playoffs this year, whoever wins the first event will have over 100,000 points, thus passing Tiger. It WAS mathematically possible last year to win with 100,000 points, although even then it would have required some absurd machinations. I havent figured out exactly what the highest Tiger could end up, but every player who earns points in all four events will pass him. Our estimate is that hell fall to around 65th or so.

This will be Annika Sorenstams last U.S. Open. For now.
I dont know if Ill come back in five or so years, she said, leaving the door open.
She has already said she wants to start a family. Shes engaged to be married to Mike McGee early next year. The speculation is that Sorenstam, 37, might return after two children.
As far as her game and this week are concerned, Sorenstam said she is excited about this major especially after working on her putting 10 days ago with former PGA TOUR player and Ryder Cup captain Dave Stockton. Stockton, one of the best putters of his or any other generation, has been working increasingly with touring professionals in need of putting help.

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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”