Lee wins Bahamas LPGA on shortened course

By Doug FergusonMay 26, 2013, 11:35 am

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – The golf course flooded, and then was closed for two days. The only way to hold the Bahamas LPGA Classic was to use 12 holes over three rounds. No one played the par-5 18th hole in competition until Sunday. It was a week like no other on the LPGA, especially for Ilhee Lee.

''This is the best day in my life,'' she said. ''I'm so happy right now.''

Lee made a clutch par putt on the second-to-last hole in a raging wind to keep a one-shot lead, and then she drilled a fairway metal out of light rough and onto the 18th green to set up a two-putt birdie. That gave her a 5-under 42 and her first professional win, by two shots over Irene Cho.

It was only fitting that she finished in a downpour.

Flooding earlier in the week left so much of the Ocean Club course under water that the tour's best option – especially with new sponsors Ohio-based Pure Silk and the Bahamas Tourism Ministry – was to shorten the course to 12 holes and play three rounds to reach the 36 holes required for an official event.

First-time winners usually get showered with beer. In the rain, Jennie Lee sprayed her with shaving cream.

While the entire week was wild, it was memorable in so many ways for the 24-year-old from South Korea. She loves to swim and loves to gamble, and Lee couldn't have been in a better spot to kill the time. She played the opening two rounds with her idol, Se Ri Pak.

Starting the final round three shots out of the lead, with the wind blowing as hard as it had all week, she was thinking even par would do her well.

She holed a 30-foot putt from off the green on her first hole. She chipped in from 60 feet on the next hole. And after running into trouble on the next hole, a par 5, she hit 5-iron into the hurting, left-to-right wind to 10 feet for a third straight birdie.

''After the third hole I was thinking, 'Maybe this is the day to win,''' she said.

Lee hit 9-iron to tap-in range on her eighth hole to take the outright lead, but she left a long birdie putt from the fringe some 5 feet short. With a one-shot lead, she couldn't afford a bogey, and Lee drilled the par putt right in the center and lightly pumped her fist leaving the green.

''The most important putt,'' she said.

The birdie on the 18th hole affected only the final margin. Lee finished on 11-under 126 and picked up $195,000, more than enough to offset the $45 she lost in four nights at the casino. Asked if she was going back to the casino Sunday night, Lee smiled and signaled two thumbs-up.

Cho, who teed off two hours before Lee, got into the mix by holing a 9-iron into the wind from 118 yards on the par-5 11th hole – the fifth hole of her round – and birdied three of the last five holes for a 7-under 40. The 7 under matched the low score of the week.

Anna Nordqvist had a 2-under 45 to finish alone in third. Cristie Kerr, coming off a win in Kingsmill two weeks ago, was in position for so much of the day and couldn't make a putt, the strength of her game. She even laid flat on her stomach to line up a 7-foot attempt on her ninth hole, only to see it bump off line. Kerr had to settle for a 46 and a five-way tie for fourth that included Paula Creamer (45) and Mika Miyazato (45).

The most sensible routing was a strange one. Every player started on No. 10 and then jumped from one side to the next. The course dried enough that the par-5 18th was used for the first time all week, and the fourth hole – which had been converted from a par 5 to a par 3 – was eliminated.

''They did the best they could,'' Kerr said. ''Today was brutal with the wind. I didn't putt well enough and I couldn't steady myself in the wind. I'm glad the week is over. It was weird playing the 18th hole for the first time all week. I haven't seen it since Monday. I hope we get to play the whole golf course next year.''

Cho's eagle from the 11th fairway was but a small part of her exciting round. Two holes later, her shot drifted onto the sandy beach and she figured she might as well try to play it.

''It was in the beach, and there was some water around it,'' Cho said. ''And I was like, 'Shoot, I'm going to pull out a little Bill Haas and just try to get this up and over.' I got it out perfect.''

She saved par, just like Haas did in a playoff at the Tour Championship in 2011 that led him to win the FedEx Cup.

As hard as the wind was blowing over the final hour, and as the sky began to darken, it looked as though Cho's score of a 9-under 128 might be enough to win. Lee was simply flawless.

''I can't believe it right now,'' Lee said. It feels amazing. Awesome.''

First-time winners typically get showered with beer. It was raining so hard that Jennie Lee sprayed her with shaving cream. The winner posed for photos with her sunglasses covered in white cream and a smile that stayed with her all day.

The perks kept right on coming after the trophy presentation. She was awarded a silver bracelet from Tiffany's, and all first-time winners get a Rolex watch.

Lee has come a long way since her rookie year in 2010, when she earned her card at Q-school and spoke ''zero English.'' She decided to stay in private housing to help learn the language. And after a short interview before the trophy presentation, she smiled and said, ''I think I did OK right now.''

''This week, I was very happy,'' she said about her weird week. ''I can play golf. I can swim. I can gamble. This is the best job in the world. I love golf.''


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Man bites off finger during golf course brawl

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:45 pm

PLYMOUTH, Mass. – A man has bitten off another man’s finger during a fight at a Massachusetts golf course.

WCVB-TV reports a 47-year-old man was arrested at the Southers Marsh Golf Club in Plymouth Friday after he apparently got into a fight with another golfer and bit off a part of his thumb.

The station reports the victim’s thumb had been bitten off to his knuckle and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The incident happened around sunset.

The attacker was arrested and charged with mayhem. A police dispatcher declined to comment Saturday and Chief Michael Botieri didn’t immediately return a call seeking more information.

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Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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Thompson bounces back from rule violation

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

The story here isn’t really the penalty.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.