Withdrawal Pains

By Brian HewittJune 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
In a week where the winners in professional golf drew less attention than the players who couldnt make it to the house, K. J. Chois hard-charging victory at the Memorial Tournament presented by Morgan Stanley, was memorable for several reasons.
 
For starters, Choi fired a closing 65 to defeat equally hard-charging Ryan Moore by a shot. It was Chois fifth win on the PGA TOUR. And it stamped him as another player you cant ignore in the first round of your U.S. Open fantasy drafts.
 
Meanwhile, a lot of people are scratching their heads and trying to figure out how a quartet of players who began the final round in better position all wilted in one way or another. Their names: Rod Pampling, who held a three shot lead after 54 holes; Adam Scott, who bogeyed the 71st and 72nd hole; Sean OHair, who didnt birdie either of the par-5s on the back nine; and Stewart Cink, who made no birdies at all on the inward half.
 
And while were at it, what was up with all the withdrawals last week in mens and womens golf? It was a veritable epidemic, starting Thursday at the Memorial when Phil Mickelson tweaked his left wrist and withdrew after 11 holes.
 
I couldnt grab the club and I couldnt swing, Mickelson said about a condition that left him no alternative but to stop playing.
 
This was Mickelsons first event since winning THE PLAYERS last month. And it took a little of the air out of the balloon that was to be his showdown with Woods in two weeks in the U.S. Open at Oakmont.
 
Mickelson jetted home to California to meet with specialists. And his status for this weeks Stanford St. Jude Championship was uncertain. Before he left Ohio he sounded like a man who wasnt concerned about being ready for Oakmont. But the long roughs for which U.S. Opens are notorious are no place to be trying to win a major championship with a tender wrist.
 
Woods, for his part, was able to fight through an early week throat infection. By the end of the Memorial, especially Sunday when he eagled seven and birdied eight and nine and carded a tidy 67, he looked very much like a player peaking at the right time. He finished tied for 15th, eight shots behind Choi.
 
Masters champion Zach Johnson wasnt so lucky. A strep throat forced him to withdraw after 15 holes Thursday at the Memorial. Sorry guys, the normally-accommodating Johnson told reporters after he pulled out. I cant talk.
 
After 36 holes of Nicklaus event, Jason Bohn (pronounced bone) withdrew with a rib injury. Last I checked a rib IS a bone. If Woody Allen were a golf writer, you can be sure hed come up with a suitable one-liner here. Also, Charles Howell III withdrew because of illness after the third round.
 
Then there was all the attention that surrounded Michelle Wies withdrawal at the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika in South Carolina.
 
Wie hadnt played tournament golf in four months because of injuries to both wrists and she got off to a dreadful start Thursday. After 16 holes she was 14 over par. Two more bogeys would have produced an 88 and, because of a little-known LPGA rule that bans any non-member shooting 88 or worse for the rest of the calendar year, she was on very thin ice.
 
She withdrew.
 
The critics cried foul, saying Wie stopped playing to avoid an 88 or worse. Wies camp staunchly defended the decision, citing a recurrence of wrist pain. The second major championship on the womens side is next week in Maryland at the McDonalds LPGA. As of Sunday, there had been no announcement from Wies people on whether she will be able to play.
 
Natalie Gulbis drew less attention in South Carolina after withdrawing following an opening 80. Gulbis, too, cited injury. Still looking for her first LPGA victory, the 24-year-old Gulbis has just one top-10 and three missed cuts in 10 2007 starts. The problem is her back and it may cause her to miss the McDonalds LPGA.
 
Finally, there was the warm story of 15-year-old amateur MacKinzie Kline. Born with just one ventricle in her heart, Kline underwent two open heart surgeries before her second birthday. She has survived and can play in tournaments with the help of a respirator and permission to ride a cart. Sorenstam, the tournaments host, extended an exemption to Kline, who shot 86-89 but said she learned a lot.
 
Kline would not have made the 36-hole cut at the Ginn Tribute. But LPGA policy stipulates that any non-member on the wrong side of the 88 rule is officially deemed to have withdrawn. Nevertheless, it was a feel good story just to watch the wide-eyed Kline play the game. She may have less heart, anatomically, than anybody else in golf. But she has more heart, spiritually, than just about everybody in the game.
 
All in all, there has never been a week in golf with more withdrawal pains for so many well-known players.
 
Choi, who stormed into contention early Sunday with a sizzling front-nine 30 and retained his position with a clutch par-saving putt on 17, should not be lost in the shuffle. Nor should we ignore the quiet emergence of Nicole Castrale, who defeated Lorena Ochoa in a one-hole playoff in South Carolina.
 
A quick word on the charming and talented Ochoa: She is clearly the best player in the world at the moment. But she did bogey two of her last three holes Sunday. Until she learns to close more consistently, and until she starts winning majors in bunches, she wont soon make any forget Sorenstams brilliance over the last decade.
 
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Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika
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    'Hungover' Pepperell improbably in mix after 67

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 4:20 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eddie Pepperell’s 11:40 a.m. tee time on Sunday at The Open was a tad early, and not just because the Englishman was heading out more than three hours before the leaders.

    Following a third-round 71 that dropped him eight strokes off the lead, Pepperell did what many golfers do after a less-than-stellar round – he drank.

    “Honestly, I was a little hungover. I won't lie. I had too much to drink last night,” said Pepperell, who said he went to bed on Friday at around 11:30 p.m. “I was so frustrated yesterday, that today was really, I wouldn't say a write-off, but I didn't feel I was in the golf tournament. Whether I shot 69 or 73 today, it wouldn't have been heartbreaking.”

    Pepperell was much closer to the former on Sunday, posting a round-of-the-day 67 to move to within one stroke of the lead held by multiple players as the leaders made the turn.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Pepperell had just a single bogey on a blustery day at Carnoustie and closed his round with birdies at Nos. 14 and 17. It was one of just four rounds in the 60s on a course that had become increasingly difficult with each gust.

    With six players tied for the lead at 6 under par, including defending champion Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, Pepperell planned to wait and see how the afternoon progressed.

    “The only hope I have is that it's Carnoustie, and the last three, four holes, even though they're downwind, still anything can happen with obviously pressure and all that sort of stuff out here,” he said. “So I'll have to hang around.”

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 4:00 pm

    Tiger Woods is stalking his 15th career major championship trophy. Follow the action with our tracker to see if he can get it done at Carnoustie.


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    Pros melting down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 3:42 pm

    Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

    His fellow pros have been watching and tweeting like your average fans.

    We're compiling their missives below:

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

    7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

    4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.


    Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

    8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

    1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.


    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.