Rain wipes out opening day at Wegmans LPGA

By Randall MellJune 6, 2013, 4:56 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – The Wegmans LPGA Championship’s first round was scrubbed Thursday due to heavy rain.

The LPGA announced shortly before noon that the first round will be moved to Friday with the second round moved to Saturday and with 36 holes scheduled for Sunday.

Not a single shot was struck on Thursday.

It’s the second time in the last three events that the LPGA has dealt with significant weather challenges. Two weeks ago, before the start of the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, a foot of rain fell in a seven-hour stretch. Flooding on the course prompted the LPGA to get creative. Ilhee Lee won an event shortened to three 12-hole rounds.

On Thursday at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, rain began falling in the early morning hours. The course was soaked with rain still falling when players arrived.


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Lightning was a factor early in the morning with more than an inch of rain falling through to the noon hour.

'We had numerous greens under water, fairways puddling,' said Sue Witters, the LPGA's vice president of rules and competition.

More rain is forecast for Friday. Witters said the hope is that 72 holes can be completed by Sunday, but a Monday finish is possible.

'I'd like to believe that today was our worst day,' Witters said. 'The system we're in now is 140 miles deep. It's going to take a good seven hours to get out of here, and then we should get a good break in the middle of the night ... And the morning, the last I was told, is supposed to be scattered and spotty.  And then we have a big window, and then late afternoon, depending on the sun activity, there could be a chance of an isolated thunderstorm, but that's only 20 or 30 percent. Saturday is better, and Sunday is no rain at all.'

Two hours after her scheduled 7:59 a.m. tee time, Stacy Lewis ventured out into the rain to hit some balls on the range during the weather delay.

Lewis could tell what was coming when she left the range.

“May be the only shots I hit today!” Lewis tweeted.

With heavy rain coming down in the early morning hours, the LPGA put the event’s start in a weather suspension before the first tee times were scheduled to begin at 7:15 a.m. The rain never relented. Play was scrubbed shortly before noon.

“I think coming into the day everybody knew what the weather was going to be,” Lewis said. “We knew it was going to be a long day, long week. It always is here. So, I mean, we're golfers. We deal with rain delays all the time. You just have to stay patient with it, and when you have an opportunity to play, just be ready to go, and hopefully your golf swing can stay in a rhythm.”

Lewis played cards with Brittany Lincicome during the weather delay.

Paige McKenzie used a computer in the locker room to book flights and hotels for future LPGA events this year.

Lexi Thompson and Jennifer Johnson made plans to get their nails done and go to the movies.

Brittany Lang might have lined up the most creative use of time after play was scrubbed. She made plans to go shopping for wedding dresses. Actually, Paula Creamer made the plans for her. Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Katie Futcher and Angela Stanford are all bridesmaids for Lang’s wedding, planned for January. Lang got engaged in unusual fashion. Her fiancé, Kevin Spann, came out on to the 18th green on Saturday of the North Texas Shootout after Lang putted out. He knelt and presented her an engagement ring.

“I thought it was romantic,” Lang said.

All the rain promises to toughen the test for players who aren’t dialed in with their swings. Accuracy is a premium with narrow fairways and gnarly rough.

“This amount of rain, with that rough, it will be extremely difficult,” Lang said. “It’s so hard to hit out of wet rough like that. It’s almost impossible. That rough is going to be horrendous after this much rain.”

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LPGA faces dilemma relating to ANA date

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 5:00 pm

While the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship promises to bolster the overall women’s game, it has created a challenge to the LPGA’s first major championship of the year.

Should the LPGA move the ANA Inspiration to new dates?

Or stay put and go up against the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship?

It’s a complex question, with no easy fix.

“I don’t know that keeping the date we are in is a good long-term decision, but I won’t make a switch out of that date without reviewing all the variables, and thinking about it long term, not just one year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

Whan said his staff is studying options and expects to review them with All Nippon Airways (ANA) sometime over the next two weeks.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley announced during the Masters, almost three weeks ago, that the club’s new women’s amateur championship will be played over three rounds, with the final round being played at Augusta National on the Saturday before the Masters. That’s the same week as the ANA Inspiration.

If the ANA Inspiration keeps its dates, it would compete with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur over the ANA’s first three rounds. It would compete for media attention and for some of the top amateurs who have become an integral part of the ANA.

The ANA Junior Inspiration is played the weekend before the women’s first major, with LPGA legends occupying an important role in the event. LPGA legends play alongside juniors in the final round and also attend the ANA Junior Dinner. There’s a mentorship philosophy woven into the entire amateur element of the ANA.

The ANA Junior winner and six other elite amateurs get invites to play the ANA Inspiration.

Switching the ANA dates isn’t the no-brainer some fans might think.

Swapping with the LPGA’s Kia Classic the week before means the possibility ANA loses the highly appealing 20 hours of live TV tournament coverage it receives in its current dates. It also means LPGA pros would get just one full-field event to qualify for the year’s first major. Any swap of earlier March dates puts the LPGA up against formidable PGA Tour Florida swing dates, including The Players, with its expected move back to March.

A swap of dates to mid-March with the LPGA’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup next year would mean LPGA pros wouldn’t get a single full-field event to qualify for the ANA. (The Women’s Australian Open is co-sanctioned with a shared field). Plus, a swap with the Founders Cup would create major logistical issues for Founders Cup and Wildfire Marriott resort officials hosting that event.

Moving to the week after the Masters is equally difficult, with the ANA then competing against the immensely popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which featured Beyonce as its headliner this year. Plus, there would be weather and volunteer issues.

“There are a lot of partners involved in a decision relating to a date change,” Whan said. “It’s not just Mission Hills, IMG and ANA and the volunteer and operations groups.

“And, most importantly, it would come down to where we could find a TV window that is at least equivalent to what we have today. Those options are limited.”

While an ANA date switch might be ideal long term, when the LPGA has more time to revamp its entire schedule, to better prepare a lead-in to the ANA, it’s a problem for 2019.

“Staying in the current date is a legitimate alternative,” Whan said. “Because we know we get a great golf course and fan support, and we get a schedule that makes sense in terms of players being able to play their way into the event.”

Still, the ANA dates remain under study.

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Levy boosts chances of playing in home Ryder Cup

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 4:24 pm

France's Alexander Levy took a big step toward qualifying for a spot at this year's Ryder Cup in his native country with his win at the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II.

Levy's one-shot victory was his third in as many years, and the fifth of his European Tour career. It lifted him to ninth in the latest European Points standings for the Ryder Cup, with the top four players automatically qualifying for a spot on the team in Paris.

Levy, 27, is likely France's best hope to have some representation on the roster in October. His win lifted him to No. 47 in the world rankings, while the next highest-ranked Frenchman (Victor Dubuisson) is currently 122nd.

Levy also ranks 15th on the World Points list, where the top four players not otherwise qualified on the European Points list will join the team, rounded out by four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn. Here's a look at the latest standings:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Jon Rahm

4. Ross Fisher

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5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Rory McIlroy

2. Tommy Fleetwood

3. Sergio Garcia

4. Alex Noren

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5. Ian Poulter

On the American side of things, the top 14 in the U.S. points race remained unchanged following the Valero Texas Open, while tournament winner Andrew Landry jumped from 48th to 15th. Here's a look at the current standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic spots on the team:

1. Patrick Reed

2. Justin Thomas

3. Dustin Johnson

4. Jordan Spieth

5. Bubba Watson

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Brooks Koepka

8. Phil Mickelson

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9. Matt Kuchar

10. Brian Harman

11. Kevin Kisner

29. Tiger Woods

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Descending into golf's depths, and trying to dig out

By Brandel ChambleeApril 23, 2018, 3:05 pm

Watching Alvaro Quiros finish second this past week in Morocco, I was reminded of just how rare it is for player to come back from the depths of golf hell.

Quiros, a player of immense ability, hype and length, won the Dubai World Championship – his sixth win in four years – to close out 2011 and then went down the rabbit hole of trying to change his golf swing. He would miss 11 cuts in 2012 and either miss the cut or withdraw in another 41 European Tour events over the next four years. Because he hadn’t won a major championship, his epic backwards slide in the world rankings (435th prior to this past week) mostly went unnoticed – but it was far from unusual.

Ian Baker-Finch won the 1991 Open Championship, but just three years later, when he played 20 events on the PGA Tour and missed 14 cuts, he no longer looked anything like a recent major champion. In 1995, he played in 18 events and either missed the cut, withdrew or was disqualified from every one of them. In 1996, he missed the cut in all 11 events he entered on the PGA Tour; and in 1997, he shot 92 in the first round of The Open, withdrew from the championship and stopped playing professional golf.

Like Quiros, Baker-Finch’s downfall came after his biggest win, when he finally thought he had the time, because of the 10-year exemption he received, to change his golf swing.

David Duval won the 2001 Open Championship and just two years later he shot 83-78 in the same event and missed the cut, which was one 16 events he either missed the cut or withdrew from that year. In 2005, he missed 18 cuts in 19 starts. Duval’s competitive demise may well have been precipitated by injuries and an existential malaise after winning golf’s oldest championship, but it was accompanied by queries far and wide as to how to correct his swing and thinking, just like Baker-Finch before him and Quiros thereafter.

These desperate searches for help, like the indelible ink stains on dyer’s hands, are the one common thread amongst those who suffer from the absolute negation of their technical and then creative abilities. Those who take as indisputable the theories of others are, in the deepest sense, wounding their own intuition. They are controverting the evidence of their own senses in such a way that is comforting to the insecure player, but tragic to the artist. To quote Carl Jung: “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”

As I write this, PGA Tour winners Steven Bowditch (1,885th in the world) and Smylie Kaufman (337th) are in similar downward spirals in their careers and no doubt are desperate for, and susceptible to any suggestion.

One player they can look to who made it back from the frantic madness that accompanies losing one’s game, is Henrik Stenson. He put his trust in one man, Pete Cowen, even though while working with Pete he missed 14 cuts in 2002, followed by 15 missed cuts in 2003, and 11 in 2004. What Stenson did not do was panic and run from teacher to teacher, from shrink to shrink, as the missed cuts piled up.

Stenson, with Cowen’s help, slowly built one of the most reliable swings in the history of the game. A swing that regularly leads events in fairways found and greens hit in regulation. A swing that authored the lowest score ever shot in major championship history. A swing that is a far cry from the OB-launching swipes he was taking in late-2001 and 2002.

Given the soul-eating depths of where he came from, a place from which few have dug themselves out of, I watch Stenson play golf with a far greater admiration than I otherwise would, and similarly was pulling for Quiros in Morocco. The same way I am pulling for Bowditch and Kaufman to find their games again.

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Langer skipping Senior PGA for son's HS graduation

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 2:53 pm

Defending champion Bernhard Langer will miss this year’s Senior PGA Championship to attend his son’s high school graduation.

Langer made the announcement Monday, during Senior PGA media day at Harbor Shores in Michigan. The event will be held May 24-27.

“I won’t be able to defend my title this year because my son graduates from high school that very same weekend,” he said. “Family comes first in my life, so I have to be there to celebrate.”

Langer said that his son, Jason, will play golf for the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Langer and his family live in South Florida.

Langer won last year’s event at Trump National outside Washington, D.C. The 60-year-old has no wins but three runners-up in eight senior starts this season.