Whaley Gets Ready for the Men

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2003, 4:00 pm
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (AP) -- When the LPGA Big Apple Classic ends Sunday, many of the players will be heading to Europe where the tour's next two tournaments will be played.
Suzy Whaley will only have a 90-minute drive to the tournament of her lifetime, the Greater Hartford Open.
The 36-year-old club pro from Avon, Conn., qualified for the PGA Tour event last September, and she will be using the Big Apple Classic, which starts Thursday at Wykagyl Country Club, as a final tuneup.
'This week is about playing the best competitive golf I can against the best female golfers in the world, and next week I'll take on the challenge of the best men in the world,' Whaley said Wednesday.
The mother of two young daughters hasn't had many opportunities against LPGA players. This is her fourth tournament of the year on the tour, and she has missed two cuts and tied for 50th at the Giant Eagle Classic last month.
Still, Whaley, who is playing here on a sponsor's exemption, exudes confidence as her date with the men approaches.
'I played in a Futures event last week and had the lowest nine of my career, a 30. This is the best my game has been since last September,' she said. 'For me, this week is all about remaining composed on each shot, staying in my preshot routine. I'm really working hard this week on my concentration.'
When Annika Sorenstam played in the Colonial on the PGA Tour in May, she didn't have much to fall back on as she was the first woman to play in a PGA event in 58 years. Whaley joins that exclusive club about 58 days after Sorenstam missed the cut.
'What I would take the most from her experience is how she handled herself. She looked calm. She didn't look rushed,' said Whaley, who played on the tour for two years in the early 1990s. 'I can learn a lot from her demeanor, her charisma. She looked like she was enjoying herself and I hope to do the same.'
The LPGA field Whaley faces this week isn't star-studded because of many players are getting ready for the Evian Masters in France next week and then the Women's British Open, the last of the tour's four majors.
Sorenstam, a two-time champion here and the tour's leading money-winner, is skipping this week. Three of the top 10 players on the earnings list are in the field: Grace Park (2nd), Angela Stanford (8th) and Rachel Teske (10th).
Beth Daniel, No. 11 on the money list and fresh off last week's historic win at the Canadian Women's Open, is second to Whaley in drawing pre-tournament attention.
Daniel's victory in Vancouver, British Columbia, was her first on tour in eight years and it made her the oldest LPGA champion ever. Daniel, 46, won the Big Apple in 1994, one of 33 victories in her Hall of Fame career.
'It's been a while since I felt like this, and once you do it you want to do it again,' Daniel said. 'Really, to do it this late in my career is pretty neat. That will always be a special win.'
Last year's Big Apple was a special win for Gloria Park. She beat fellow South Korea native Hee-Won Han on the first playoff hole for her second career win. This year has been a struggle for the 23-year-old. Her best finish was a tie for 14th and she has missed the cut the last three weeks.
'Last year, I didn't want to come to this tournament and then I won,' she said. 'I changed my caddie earlier this year and since then I have lost my confidence. I feel because I won last year, I feel more confident and hopefully I'll play a little better this week.'
LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw announced Wednesday that Sybase will continue as the tournament's sponsor for the next three years. However, the name, date and purse will change for 2004.
The tournament, to be known as the Sybase Classic, will be held May 20-23, 2004, with a purse of $1.25 million, up from $950,000 the last two years.
Divots: There are six former champions in the field: Betsy King (1990, 1991), Hiromi Kobayashi (1993), Daniel, Michele Redman (1997), Sherri Steinhauer (1999) and Park. ... Sorenstam, who missed last year's playoff by one stroke, and Karrie Webb, who finished fourth, are the only players from last year's top 11 finishers not here this week. ... Daniel changed caddies in May and Ralph Scarinzi, a native of New Rochelle, is now on her bag. Scarinzi, 47, is staying this week with his 80-year-old aunt who lives near the course.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Sybase Big Apple Classic
  • Sybase Big Apple Classic Leaderboard

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    Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

    There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

    Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

    She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

    It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

    Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

    "It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

    Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”