All Eyes on Annika at Womens Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 20, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 U.S. WomenIn 1960, Arnold Palmer drove the par-4 first hole at Cherry Hills Country Club en route to erasing a seven-stroke, final-round deficit and winning the U.S. Open.
 
Soon thereafter, the notion of a modern Grand Slam was born.
 
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam's drive to the Grand Slam goes through Cherry Hills Country Club.
Palmer had captured each of the first two major championships of the season, and had designs on all four. His dream, however, died at St. Andrews, where he finished runner-up to Kel Nagle in the British Open.
 
Forty-five years later, Annika Sorenstam has arrived at Cherry Hills with hopes of doing what Palmer ' and everyone else since ' could not.
 
Since 1960, five players have won the first two majors of the season: Mickey Wright (1961), Jack Nicklaus (1972), Pat Bradley (1986), Tiger Woods (2002) and Sorenstam (2005).
 
And all have failed to secure that third victory ' at least thus far.
 
Sorenstam has the opportunity at this weeks U.S. Womens Open to again create history, as she attempts to become the first player ' male or female ' to win the first three legs of the modern, professional Grand Slam.
 
The 34-year-old Swede has not only won each of the first two majors this season, shes captured nine total for her career. But this may prove to be her toughest test yet.
 
Sorenstam is only two weeks removed from winning the McDonalds LPGA Championship, which means she has to reclaim her focus immediately. She also has to deal with the pressure of nearing in on the Grand Slam goal that she has stated each of the past two years.
 
I know its going to be a lot of pressure, Sorenstam said. Thats the goal I set, and if I want to achieve my goal, thats what I will have to accept.
 
At 6,749 yards (par 71), Cherry Hills is the longest layout in the 60-year history of this championship.
 
It also joins Hazeltine and Winged Foot as the only courses that have hosted a U.S. Open, U.S. Womens Open and U.S. Senior Open.
 
Five for the Title:
 
Annika Sorenstam
The list of favorites really begins and ends with Annika. She won this years Kraft Nabisco Championship by eight strokes. She then won the McDonalds LPGA Championship by three, despite playing the par-5s in 3 over and bogeying the final two holes. Sorenstam is a two-time winner of this event, having won back-to-back in 1995-96. But she has had more downs than ups over the last three years. In 2002, Sorenstam had a two-shot lead entering the final round, only to be passed on Sunday by a streaking Juli Inkster, who closed in 66. In 2003, she needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to win, but made bogey and missed out on a playoff by a shot. And last year, she started the final round tied for second with Meg Mallon, but couldnt keep Mallons pace and finished second. So there is hope for everyone else ' even if just a little.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie has competed in the U.S. Women's Open three times, tying for 13th last year.
Wie didnt need a hand-out to get into this major; she qualified based on her tie for 13th at the Orchards Golf Club last year. The 15-year-old has received a lot of criticism over the exemptions she has received to play on the LPGA Tour. But she fed plenty of people a plate of crow two weeks ago, when she finished runner-up to Sorenstam at the McDonalds. She has the length to compete at Cherry Hills; she just needs to improve her short game to mount a serious victory march.
 
Juli Inkster
Inkster denied Sorenstam the title at Prairie Dunes and shed love to do it again at Cherry Hills. A two-time winner (1999, 2002), the 45-year-old has the pedigree and the experience to possibly end Annikas Grand Slam run. Inkster, whose swing coach, Mike McGetrick, lives in nearby Denver, went head-to-head with Sorenstam earlier this year at the ShopRite Classic. Tied for the lead to start the final round, Sorenstam shot 64 to Inksters 68.
 
Cristie Kerr
Kerr is the top-ranked American, leading the U.S. in Solheim Cup points. She ended Sorenstams five-tournament winning streak earlier this year at the Michelob Ultra Open. It marked her fifth career tour title, and her first win with Sorenstam in the field. This will be her 10th Open appearance. She has a pair of top-5 finishes, including a runner-up showing in 2000; though, she finished five back of Karrie Webb that year. She tied for third at this years Kraft Nabisco, 10 behind Sorenstam.
 
Meg Mallon
The defending champion, Mallon won her second Open title by firing the lowest closing round in the championships history. Mallon shot 6-under 65 to pass third-round leader Jennifer Rosales and pull away from Sorenstam. The 42-year-old doesnt have a top-10 in nine starts this season, but she always seems to fare well at this event. Mallon has eight career top-10s in the Open, including wins in 1991 and 2004.
 
Playing Out the Front Nine
 
Four more players to keep an eye on
 
*Lorena Ochoa, who won her first title of the year at last week's Wegmans Rochester LPGA. The 24-year-old Mexican has top-10 finishes in every major except the U.S. Open. She tied for fifth at the McDonalds.
 
*Laura Davies, who would qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame with a win this week. Davies won this tournament in 1987 but wasnt a member of the tour. Because of that technicality, she is still two points shy from earning Hall of Fame status. She was only two behind Sorenstam after two rounds of the McDonalds, but shot 74-71 over the weekend to finish five back. Her length should be a major asset at Cherry Hills.
 
*Paula Creamer, who became the youngest tour winner in over 50 years this season. The 18-year-old won the Sybase Classic last month, just prior to her high school graduation. She is competing in her third Open. She tied Wie for 13th place a year ago. She also finished third at the McDonalds and was runner-up to Ochoa last week.
 
*Rosie Jones, who has competed in 86 major championships without a win. Jones is retiring at the end of the season. This would be a great going away gift for the 45-year-old. Shes very short off the tee, but has the short game and the grit to be a factor.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
  • Getty Images

    DJ, McIlroy, Spieth listed as PGA betting favorites

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Three majors are in the books, but there's still one more trophy up for grabs in two weeks' time.

    While next year The Open will signal the end of the 2019 major season amid a revamped calendar, this is the final year that the PGA Championship will be held in August. The tournament returns next month to Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis, which last hosted the PGA when Nick Price won in 1992 and hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since Camilo Villegas won the 2008 BMW Championship.

    Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published PGA betting odds shortly after the final putt dropped at Carnoustie and Francesco Molinari left with the claret jug. Topping the board are a trio of major champions: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all listed at 12/1.

    McIlroy won the PGA in both 2012 and 2014, while Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to round out the career Grand Slam. Johnson has recorded four top-10s in the PGA, notably a T-5 finish at Whistling Straits in 2010 when a few grains of sand kept him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

    Fresh off a T-6 finish in Scotland, Tiger Woods headlines the group listed at 16/1, behind only the three co-favorites as he looks to win a 15th career major.

    Here's a look at the betting odds for a number of contenders, with the opening round of the PGA just 17 days away:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth

    16/1: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    18/1: Justin Rose

    20/1: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day

    30/1: Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Paul Casey

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson

    80/1: Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner

    100/1: Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman

    Getty Images

    Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:31 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.

    The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.

    A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.

    The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.

    That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.

    Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.

    Getty Images

    Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

    A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

    Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

    Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

    Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Bubba Watson

    6. Jordan Spieth

    7. Rickie Fowler

    8. Webb Simpson

    ---

    9. Bryson DeChambeau

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Xander Schauffele

    12. Matt Kuchar

    13. Kevin Kisner

    14. Tony Finau

    15. Brian Harman

    On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

    Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

    European Points

    1. Francesco Molinari

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tyrrell Hatton

    4. Tommy Fleetwood

    ---

    Thorbjorn Olesen

    Russell Knox

    Eddie Pepperell

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Alex Noren

    3. Rory McIlroy

    4. Paul Casey

    ---

    Matthew Fitzpatrick

    Sergio Garcia

    Ian Poulter

    Getty Images

    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.