Its Walters Time for the Hall
The class of 2008 will be announced on Wednesday and Walters should be one of the two inductees named in a teleconference hosted by the Royal Canadian Golf Association. Its her time, even if her name isnt the first that comes to mind for those who follow the game in this country.
Its been nearly seven years since the native of Prince Rupert, B.C. played her final event on the tour, where she spent the better part of 17 years following her rookie year in 1984. Walters, 48, now lives quietly with her husband Mike in Tampa.
Walters played during a prime time for Canadians on the tour, alongside the likes of Dawn Coe-Jones, Gail Graham and Lorie Kane, among others, but never received the attention the others got despite a comparable record with all of the aforementioned players.
To call Walters an introvert would be true in one sense, but not so much in another. She wasnt the type to draw attention to herself, but it wasnt because she was unfriendly. It was just her nature.
Walters was actually quite gregarious if you cornered her and had a pretty sharp sense of humour that made her popular among her peers, both Canadian and American.
Her aversion to attention is one reason that fans might need a media guide, but a ridiculous number of injuries plagued Walters over the course of her career. Over the years, knee and back problems hampered her before wrist/thumb woes forced her to retire from full-time play in 2000.
In this country, success on tour is measured in single digits, with Sandra Post, Mike Weir and the late George Knudson setting the standard with eight wins apiece on the PGA and LPGA Tours and Walters three wins are comparable to her Canadian contemporaries on the womens tour.
Walters currently has just one win less than Lorie Kane, who will certainly be named to the hall once her career is over, and is tied with the three victories posted by her pal Dawn Coe-Jones, who is already in the hall of fame. It will always be speculation, but Walters might have had more wins if not for her injuries.
Despite her humble nature, Walters had a knack for doing things with flair.
Her first victory came in paradise at the 1992 Itoki Hawaiian Ladies Open and she followed that up by defending that same title a year later. She saved the best for last, however, in her third career victory.
Shortly before the thumb and wrist problems that would end her career took hold, Walters won the 1998 Oldsmobile Classic in grand fashion with a 23-under score that set a new scoring standard at the time in a tournament that also saw her shoot a third round 65, which was a career best.
Walters may not have won a major championship, but she recorded her first career hole in one at the 1988 Nabisco Dinah Shore and finished fifth at the LPGA Championship in her rookie year, one of 23 top-10s over the course of her career, which saw her play just three tournaments in 1999 and 2000.
Also a standout in amateur golf, Walters won the 1977 British Columbia junior championship, as well as three consecutive provincial amateur championships and became an all-American at Florida State, where people would often joke that her home town was closer to Russia than Florida.
What fans will discover should they be forced to check out her stats on Wednesday is that Walters record speaks for itself. even if she isnt the type to speak out herself.
If all is right with the world, it might be a good idea to get an early start on that research before the announcement is made on Wednesday.
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Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”
Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.
Hoylake in 2006.
That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.
So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?
“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”
With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?
“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”