Chun only one back in return from bizarre injury

By Randall MellApril 2, 2016, 12:46 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – In Gee Chun said she missed the grass in her time away.

It was her way of saying she missed her life on tour while healing from last month’s bizarre mishap that knocked her out of three LPGA events.

“I was so depressed, and I lost my appetite and motivation,” Chun said. “Once I got here, I began to get my motivation back.”

With another 3-under-par 69 Friday at the ANA Inspiration, Chun is poised to make her return to the LPGA memorable. She’s just one shot off the lead in her bid to win her second major championship. She won the U.S. Women’s Open last summer.

“I didn't play a round for the last four weeks,” Chun said. “I'm thankful for the fact that I'm playing again in a major, on a big stage. I'm just thankful to be playing well.”

Chun is making her first start since she was hurt after Ha Na Jang’s father lost control of a 15-pound travel bag that went crashing down an escalator at the Singapore airport early in March.

ANA Inspiration: Articles, photos and videos

The bag struck Chun in the tailbone. Chun withdrew from that week’s HSBC Women’s Champions and later the JTBC Founders Cup and last week’s Kia Classic while being treated for injuries to her lumbar muscles, sacroiliac joint and pelvis.

With Jang going on to win in Singapore, Chun was knocked outside the qualifying cutoff to make the Olympic team while Jang moved inside it. It created a media firestorm in South Korea, pitting Chun fans against Jang fans. With a victory this week, Chun will move back in the qualifying mix, though she said she isn’t focused on the Olympics. In fact, after Friday’s round, Chun made a surprising comment. She said she isn’t driven to make it to Rio de Janeiro.

“I do not desire to play at the Olympics, because I know there are many great Korean players who have great experience and deserve to play,” Chun said. “But in case I get the opportunity, I’ll enjoy it.”

At one point Friday, Chun and Jang were tied, alone atop the ANA leaderboard. They even looked like they might be paired together Saturday, but Jang dropped off the pace with a bogey at the last.

Chun said she feels about “90 percent” healthy now with some lingering stiffness in her lower right back, which she receives treatment for after her rounds. Chun didn’t begin hitting full shots until a week ago, and her ball striking wasn’t razor sharp Friday. She missed six greens, but she got up and down for par every time in a bogey-free round.

“Missing four weeks, we were expecting the short game, the chipping and putting would be the hardest part coming back,” said Won Park, Chun’s swing coach. “But when she first tried to come back and hit balls and couldn’t, she spent more time on her short game, and it really worked out well. She had some tough situations today to make par but she did great.”

Park said Chun’s ability to scramble from tough spots is also visible in the larger picture of her life, in coming back from the tough spot the injury created.

“She knows how to convert negative situations into positive ones,” Park said. “ She always tries to draw positives out of certain situations. We have been talking about that. She was thinking the time away was a great opportunity to get back to the basics of the game. She took it as a positive that way.”

Getty Images

Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

Getty Images

Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

Getty Images

Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

Getty Images

Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.