No 4 Open Grabs Spotlight

By George WhiteDecember 26, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #4Editor's note: We are counting down the top 10 stories in golf for the 2005 season. This is Story No. 4.
 
Cherry Hills is the scene of a monumental moment in mens golf, that day in the 1960 U.S. Open when Arnold Palmer drove the green at the first hole en route to his final-day victory.
 
Now Cherry Hill has another watershed moment. This one came at the U.S. Womens Open, but it came at the 18th hole. Suddenly, swiftly, with a shocking climax, the 2005 Womens Open was decided on the last hole on Sunday.
 
The acknowledged best player in all of womens golf, Annika Sorenstam, didnt win. Neither did Lorena Ochoa, who detonated on the final hole after it appeared she was going to do it. Neither did the 17-year-old amateur, Morgan Pressel, who had to be content with a tie for second, nor the person she tied for runner-up, 19-year-old amateur Brittany Lang.
 
No, each had a shining moment, but fell back. Not so one Birdie Kim, who had one glorious opportunity, one moment when she could say, this is it ' and took advantage of it.
 
That came late in the day, on the 72nd and final hole. Kim was tied for the lead with Pressel, a high school student from Florida. Pressel was playing one group behind Kim and had a clear view of the unlikely proceedings.
 
Morgan Pressel
Morgan Pressel is brought to tears by the shocking 72nd hole finish.
The 18th hole at Cherry Hills in Denver is 459 yards long. Kim had managed to get up close to the green, but her approach shot had landed in a deep bunker some 60 feet from the cup. No one on the course, no one in the gallery, expected Kim to make the shot. After all, look at her bunker statistics during the 2005 season up to that point ' Birdie was only 141st on the LPGA, having converted just six of 27 tries.
 
But this time, she was perfect. Kim carefully swung, the club slapping the sand, the ball arching out of the bunker, then bounding and rolling, and rolling, til it finally reached its destination. It dropped into the cup, a birdie for Birdie!
 
It could have been Annikas tournament ' after all, she had won the seasons first two majors and she was slowly, determinedly tracking down this one en route to the Grand Slam. She had opened with a 71, positioning her just off the lead of 69. But Sorenstam skied to a 75 the second day, and though she came back with another 71 the third round, she opened the final 18 with a 42 and could never mount a serious rally.
 
It could have been Ochoa. She had the lead coming into that same 18th hole ' but detonated in a quadruple-bogey. She hit a 3-wood off the tee and chunked it, into water. She finally staggered into the scoring trailer with an eight and finished four shots behind Kim.
 
And it could have been Pressel. She had played beautifully for a 17-year-old ' beautifully, that is, for anybody in the field. She had carefully, painstakingly set herself up for no worse than a playoff. Then, from out in the fairway, she saw Kims magical shot.
 
Pressel clasped her hands to the top of her head in disbelief. That was unbelievable, that she made that shot, she said afterwards. I was like, I cant believe this is happening to me.
 
But in the end, it was a young Korean named Birdie 'she changed her name from Ju-Yun to Birdie to distinguish herself from all the rest of the Koreans who play the tour. And it didnt matter that, up until that week late in June, she had missed the cut in seven of 13 tournaments. And it didnt matter that she couldnt finish in the top 20 in a full-field event thereafter. For four solid days in Denver, she was the champion, picking her way through all the hazards and the brutal setup that was Cherry Hills.
 
Finally, she stood on the 72nd tee, still astounded that she was in this group that still had a chance to win. I never think about to win, she said in her delightfully fractured English. I just try to do my best.
 
She started the hole with a driver off the tee, then had an uphill lie with her 7-wood. She tried to draw the 7-wood, but ball doesnt draw between the bunker, she said.
 
That wasnt the ideal scenario for Kim. Actually I am not a real good bunker player, she said. Also I change my sand wedge about two weeks ago. That club is not used yet to me. So I have a lot of miss this week with bunker shot. Finally I make it.
 
Birdie Kim
Birdie Kim celebrates her unlikely final hole birdie.
Her playing partner was 15-year-old Michelle Wie ' who, incidentally, was also tied for the lead when the day began but suffered an 82. Wie also had a bunker shot from the same bunker as Birdie. Wie played first.
 
I watching Michelle's, Kim said. Her ball is not much that rolling, not a lot. I have confidence that I can close to make the hole.
 
Now it was Birdies turn to play. It was not the kind of shot that you think has a chance to go into the hole.
 
I don't think I make. I just try to get close, she said. Tried my best to make par, maybe I can, make bogey still I have chance. I just want to try to par, get close to hole. But I never think about those ball go in the hole. So amazing.
 
So I catch - green is not that fast, not that hard and more I have confidence to make close to the pin and after hit really I didn't see the roll. Maybe get close, but it's very big -- maybe really close, I just run up, was go in.

Wie sensed something before Birdie hit the shot. I had a good feeling about that, she said. I knew she was going to make par. But I guess her name was lucky, so she made a birdie.
 
So the 23-year-old rode that shot to victory. And now, regardless of where she is, regardless of what she is doing, she can tell her grandchildren about how she won the U.S. Womens Open.

Just amazing, she said with a big laugh. I didn't try to make it. That's why I was surprised and maybe that helped me, that's why I can make it.
 
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • U.S. Women's Open Coverage
  • Photo Gallery - U.S Women's Open
  • American Junior Golf Association

    Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

    While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

    There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

    According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

    Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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    McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

    By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

    They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

    McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

    Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

    On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

    Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

    12/1: Tony Finau

    14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    20/1: Francesco Molinari

    25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

    30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

    40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

    50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

    80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

    100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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    Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

    By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

    It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

    Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

    “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

    “I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

    Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

    At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

    Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

    “I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



    “Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

    “Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

    After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

    “I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

    Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

    “It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

    “Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

    On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

    Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

    “She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

    Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

    At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

    At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

    Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

    “I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

    Her overall assessment of her day?

    “It was a great experience,” she said.

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    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:

    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 early 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 early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.