Acker-Macosko Qualifies For LPGA
In addition to Acker-Macosko, 26 other Futures Tour players qualified for the next year's LPGA Tour. Of that number, Soo Young Kim of Chung Nam, South Korea, Loraine Lambert of Queensland, Australia, Hilary Homeyer of Edina, Minn., and Young-A Yang of Taegu, South Korea, each placed among the top 23 to gain exempt status. Twenty-two other Futures Tour players received non-exempt conditional status by finishing among the next 35 players and ties.
Acker-Macosko, a nonexempt LPGA Tour member this past season, was tied for 10th with three other players after 54-holes with a 212 (-4), 11 shots short of Lovander. Her red hot front nine including four birdies on two, five, eight, and nine, draining respective 12, 20, 40, and 15-foot putts. Continuing on the back side, Acker-Macosko bogeyed 13, but followed up with a pair of birdies on 16 and 17. Despite an additional bogey on 18, she was able to finish with a four-under-par 68.
'It is just a relief that it is finally over,' beamed the 33-year-old Acker-Macosko after her round. 'I was very nervous yesterday, but today I felt good the minute I stepped onto the first tee. For the two weeks leading up to this tournament, I practiced with my two coaches, John Benson and my father Darrell and it really paid off. I came out this week completely focused and very positive. It is just an incredible feeling to get my exempt card again. I'm really looking forward to starting the season.'
In four tournaments on the Futures Tour last year, Acker-Macosko posted two top-10 finishes, including losing in a three-way playoff at the Coleman Golf Classic in Wichita, Kan. She finished 29th on the Tour's money list with $11,994. In 15 starts on the 2002 LPGA Tour, her best finish was a tie for 21st at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic in Chesterfield, Mo. Acker-Macosko's season earnings totaled $28,234.
Acker-Macosko has been a member of the LPGA Tour since 1996 and competed with exempt status in 1997 and 1999. In 2000, she played part time because she was recovering from knee surgery and took the entire 2001 season after giving birth to her son Ben. After nearly two years, Acker-Macosko finally returned this season as a full-time player and was joined by husband and caddie Ron and their son, Ben.
Acker-Macosko added, 'I had a really complicated birth and coming back this season, I really did not know what to expect of myself and how I would play. I could only practice three hours a week, while other players would do that in one day. I was juggling being a mom and a full-time professional golfer.
It was very difficult to get back to the level I was competing at with such minimal time to dedicate to my game. I knew it was going to be a really long year and I had to get used to a lot of adjustments.'
Despite being prepared and focused for this week's tournament, she felt even more pressure to reach her goal of gaining exempt status. Her husband Ron recently left his job as an athletic director at Concord College in West Virginia and they realized their only option was to earn a full exemption.
'Now that Ron is my full-time caddie, I really had no other choice but to get my exempt card back,' stated a relieved Acker-Macosko. 'That put a lot of pressure on the both of us, but we were able to handle it very well. We agreed that whatever happened would happen and we would deal with any outcome. Once I started playing, everything started to fall into place. Looking back to the beginning of last year, I can say that this is a great ending to a really bad dream.'
All 27 players who qualified this week accompany Futures Tour players Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, Christina Kim of San Jose, Calif., and Miriam Nagl of Berlin, Germany, as members of the 2003 LPGA Tour. The trio earned exempt status by placing among the top three on the Futures Tour Money List following the York Newspaper Company Futures Classic in mid-August.
Molinari reflects on beating Woods at Ryder Cup, Open
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Francesco Molinari might be a useful resource for the European Ryder Cup team.
He’s already beaten Tiger Woods, head to head, at a Ryder Cup and a major.
Molinari was in the anchor match at the 2012 Ryder Cup when Woods conceded on the final hole to give the Europeans an outright victory in the incredible comeback at Medinah. He said the last hole was a “blur,” and it remains the last Ryder Cup that both Molinari and Woods played.
“I’ve improved a lot as a player since 2012,” said Molinari, who lost his previous singles match against Woods in 2010, 4 and 3, “and I hope to show that on the course this week.”
The proof is the claret jug that he now keeps at home.
To win his first major he needed to not only endure the circus that a Woods group brings, but he needed to outlast the 14-time major champion and a host of other worthy contenders to prevail at Carnoustie.
Reflecting on that momentous day Tuesday, Molinari said he initially was dreading the final-round date with Woods.
“If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t exactly hoping to be paired with Tiger, not because I don’t like to play with him, but because, obviously, the hype and with him being in contention in a major, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a lot of people," he said.
“So the most challenging part was probably that moment when the draw came out, but then I quickly managed to think, You know, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m here to do a job, and they can’t really influence how I do my job.”
To thrive in that situation gave Molinari a lot of confidence – especially heading into a pressure-cooker like the Ryder Cup.
Asked whether it’s more pressure trying to win a major or a Ryder Cup – since he’s now done both – Molinari said: “You won’t believe me, but it’s nowhere near. Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways. It’s hard to believe, but it’s probably because you play for a team; you play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past.”
Woods 25/1 to break Nicklaus' record by age 50
With his victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods crept closer to Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour wins mark. But he also got fans thinking about whether golf's most famous record is once again in play.
Woods has been stuck on 14 career major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, although he had a pair of close calls this summer. But now that he's again a winner on Tour, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook created bets on where Woods' career major haul will end up.
The line they drew in the sand? Dec. 30, 2025 - when Woods, now 42, will turn 50 years old.
According to the Westgate, Woods is a -150 favorite to win at least one more major by that time. He's 2/1 to win at least two more, 5/1 to win at least three more and 12/1 to win at least four more. But it'll take five more majors to break Nicklaus' record haul of 18, and the odds on Woods doing that by age 50 are set at 25/1.
There are also odds on Woods' 2019 major prospects, as he's already the betting favorite for the Masters at 9/1. Woods' odds of winning any major next year are listed at +225, while the pessimists can wager -275 that his major victory drought will extend to at least 2020.
There's even a bet for those expecting some serious history: the odds of Woods sweeping all four majors next year at age 43 are 200/1.
All 12 Europeans have history at Le Golf National
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.
The question this week is whether it’ll matter.
The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.
Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.
“I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”
Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.
“When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.
“Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”
First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.
If only because of the atmosphere.
The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.
“It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.
“It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”
Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.
“The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.
“It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”