Cheering Champs Booing Tiger

By Mercer BaggsNovember 23, 2009, 11:04 pm

Anna Nordqvist

SHORT AND SWEDE: Anna Nordqvist shot 7-under 65 Monday for a two-stroke triumph at the LPGA Tour Championship. The tournament was plagued with rain delays, but eventually finished a day late and 18 holes short. Nordqvist, who also won the McDonald's LPGA, had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch Monday to lead her to victory
BackspinAll things considered, it wasn't a half-bad ending for the LPGA. Despite the weather woes and tournament reduction, they still had a decent final round, which included a nail-biter for Player of the Year [more on that later]. Nordqvist actually should have won more than just this tournament; she should have won Rookie of the Year honors. But thanks to a quirky system, that trophy went to Jiyai Shin.
Lorena Ochoa

GOOD TILL THE LAST SHOT: The LPGA Player of the Year award nearly came down to the final stroke of the season. After Lorena Ochoa birdied the par-4 18th at The Houstonian, Jiyai Shin needed to chip in moments later to claim the title. Shin narrowly missed and Ochoa was handed her fourth consecutive POY trophy by a single point.
Backspin It was fun to watch the final few holes Monday at the LPGA Tour Championship, but a points system should never determine who is the best player each season. Ochoa won three times, had 13 top-10s, won the scoring title and was fourth on the money list. Shin won the money title, was second in scoring, had three victories and 12 top-10s. Statistically, they are deadlocked. It should take human judgement – people who bore witness to the season – to determine who was the best.

Michael Whan

THERE WILL BE GOLF: The LPGA announced its 2010 schedule Wednesday with its fewest events in 40 years. A total of 24 tournaments will be contested next year, down from 27 this year and 34 two years ago. The season kicks off in Thailand Feb. 18, and concludes at a site to be determined for the Tour Championship Nov. 21. In all, there are 13 events scheduled for the U.S., 10 outside the States and one TBD.
BackspinNew commissioner Michael Whan has a schedule for next year, so that's good. Unfortunately it has the consistency of a Kirstie Alley diet. There are numerous two- and three-week gaps between events. There is a month between the second and third tournaments of the season. And there are four weeks in between the first major and the the next start. The longest the tour goes during a single stretch is five weeks during the summer. Actually, if the PGA Tour had this kind of schedule, Tiger Woods might play every tournament.

Michelle Wie

WON AND DONE: One week after winning her first LPGA event, Michelle Wie withdrew after the first round of the LPGA Tour Championship. Wie cited an injured left ankle as the culprit. An MRI showed no serious damage.
Backspin This past week – with Wie and the weather – was a microcosm of what the tour will face in 2010:  no momentum. The tour is in dire need of a dominant force [no one more desirable than Wie], but it's going to be difficult for anyone to maintain a hot streak next year and break from the pack with all of the stops and starts. It will be like taking a road trip with my mom.

Lee Westwood

RACE KING: Lee Westwood closed in 66-64 to capture the Dubai World Championship and the season-long Race to Dubai. Westwood started the week trailing Rory McIlroy on the money list, and was playing catch-up on the leaderboard through two rounds. But a brilliant weekend performance gave the Englishman his second career money title by nearly $900,000 over McIlroy, who finished third in Dubai.
Backspin Nick Faldo may have been knighted recently, but does he own a scepter? Westwood does. He also owns $2.75 million, with $1.25 million coming from his tournament victory and the rest coming as a bonus for winning the season-long title. Westwood deserve a ton a credit. He said prior to the start of play that winning would take care of everything. Every athlete says that. Westwood, however, actually delivered.

Doug Barron

JUST SAY NO: A U.S. magistrate denied Doug Barron’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed the 40-year-old journeyman to play in the second stage of Q-School. Barron became the first player suspended by the tour – for one year – for violating their anti-doping policy.
BackspinThis was plenty interesting, and I do feel badly for Barron, but the one thing that sticks out most in my mind is: Were there really 10 cases of players being busted for recreational drug use, as alleged by Barron's lawyer, and not punished by commissioner Tim Finchem? If so, that's a huge shame. The Tour is so protective of their perceived image of perfection that they are willing to sweep any bit of ugliness under the rug. And then put a couch on top of the rug.

Tom Watson

THE WATSON RULE: The Royal & Ancient announced Monday a new exemption status that will allow Tom Watson a chance to compete in the Open Championship until at least 2014. Under the new rule, any past Open champion who finished inside the top 10 at any time over the previous five years will receive a five-year exemption.
Backspin Good move by the R&A. Watson's near win at Turnberry was easily the highlight of the 2009 season. The Open, above all other majors, allows past champions – guys who know how to work the rota venues – a chance to contend. The Masters used to be that way, until Augusta National grew into a monster that eats the aged. Even if this rule is never applied again, it's worth it just to have Watson back for one – or five – more years.
Tiger Woods

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tiger Woods was an honorary captain at the Stanford-California football game Saturday. ... Mark Brooks defeated Rickie Fowler to win the Pebble Beach Invitational. ... Michael Maggi, an energy trader from Houston, bid $22,000 to play in Wednesday' pro-am with Michelle Wie.
Backspin Woods was also inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame. California, however, won The Big Game, 34-28. He was also booed ... Brooks has won this tournament three times. We're guessing he still won't be favored over Woods come next year's Open at Pebble. ... How the hell do you trade energy? Who is he, Ra?
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.