Major Season Upon Us

By Brian HewittApril 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca. -- Paula Creamers penultimate shot of the second round of the years first major hung on the edge of the hole and refused to drop. Creamer slapped the head of her putter three times in frustration, frowned and tapped in for a 74 that left her one shot over par and miles off the lead at the halfway point of the Kraft Nabisco.
 
Its major season in golf now. This week for the women. Next week for the men at Augusta National. And everything is magnified. So three slaps to a balky flatstick where one sufficed as recently as last week.
 
Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa have been the dominant stories against their respective competition so far this year. But starting now we begin measuring their achievements through the prism of pressures presented by major championships.
 
Creamer is 21 years old. And she will probably have to wait until June now for the next two womens majors'The McDonalds LPGA and the U.S. Womens Open--for a defining moment.
 
She already has won once in 2008 (the Fields Open in February in Hawaii). And she is early enough on in her career to consider it a compliment when people categorize her as the best player never to have won a major.
 
I think its nice that I have that ability in peoples eyes to win majors as much as they believe in me to do that, she says. So thats exciting. But its not winning.
 
Creamer arrived at Mission Hills Country Club this week with just one top 5 finish in 14 major championship tries. Those arent the kind of numbers the No. 4 player in the world is supposed to produce.
 
Then she went out Friday in 39 on her first nine holes. She will need to step on it on the weekend to get back into contention. Contention was where she found herself last year here until posting a discouraging Sunday 78 that left her tied for 15th and puzzled.
 
Everybody puts emphasis on majors because they are the best tournaments to win and they are on this pedestal of being the top tournament to win, she said earlier this week. I think that going into them, mentally, its not been the same as any other week, and I think my best golf playing is when Im relaxed and know the golf course.
 
While Creamer, along with a laundry list of players that included Ochoa, Suzann Pettersen, Catriona Matthew, Se Ri Pak and Brittany Lincicome were stuck in reverse at the wrong time one the weekend at Kraft Nabisco last year, Morgan Pressel, 18, was quietly minding her onions.
 
She carded a closing 69 long before the leaders self-destructed. And by the end of the day she found herself the winner of a war of attrition and the youngest female winner of a major championship in golf history.
 
Thursday and Friday Pressel played in a twosome with Ochoa. She hit five greens but shot 71 Thursday because her 22 putts was the lowest number in that category in the field.
 
Ochoa consistently launched her drives 50 and 60 yards past Pressel. And when a reporter asked Ochoa if she felt sorry for Pressel, Ochoa squirmed in embarrassment. Finally, after being pressed, she said, No.
 
What Ochoa should have said is: I will answer that question only after you ask Morgan if she feels sorry for me that I have never won this tournament.
 
But Ochoa has won a major'the 2007 Womens British at the Old Course at St. Andrews. So that monkey is off her back.
 
There is a growing sense that Ochoa is poised to start stringing womens majors in Woodsian fashion. In fact, if she wins this week, she will beat Woods to the punch on the Hot Topic circuit:
 
Will Lorena Ochoa win the womens Grand Slam this year?
 
Woods wont have a chance to get his first leg up on the mens calendar Slam until next weeks Masters.
 
Its major season in golf now. Everything starts to mean more and happen a little faster. Fasten your seat belts.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • Getty Images

    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

    Getty Images

    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

    Getty Images

    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

    Getty Images

    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”