What to Watch for in 2005

By Lpga Tour MediaFebruary 21, 2005, 5:00 pm
With Japan's dramatic win at the inaugural Women's World Cup of Golf, the2005 LPGA Tour season is off to a smashing start. The season, sure to be one filled with record-breaking putts, Rolex First-Time Winners, tears of joy and the agony of defeat, begins in earnest this week with the SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
Before the first full-field event of the season, one record has already been set. This year there will be a record 33 rookies on Tour, all battling for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. The group is headlined by Paula Creamer, who in 2004 grabbed the title at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American Airlines and finished a shot back of Cristie Kerr at the ShopRite LPGA Classic as an amateur.
But the youth movement on the Tour is just one of the many stories that will
develop as the season unfolds. If you're looking for drama, the LPGA will
have its share in 2005.
The Annika Watch
The name most linked to women's golf the past few years has been Annika
Sorenstam. She's done almost everything that is possible in women's golf.
What's left for her to accomplish? Last year, she stated publicly that her
goal was to achieve the Grand Slam by winning all four majors in a single
season. Her attempt never really got off the ground after a second-round 76
felled her into an eventual tie for 13th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
She would win the McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola and take second at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA before another tie for 13th at the Weetabix Women's British Open.
In 2003, Sorenstam came even closer. She won the McDonald's LPGA
Championship Presented by AIG and the Weetabix Women's British Open, and
finished second by one shot at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and one shot
out of a playoff at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA.
Her attempt for the Sorenslam in 2005 begins with the first round of the
Kraft Nabisco Championship on March 24.
Sorenstam has seven major championships to her credit and has said she would
like to win at least 10 in her career. With three more majors, she would
become just the fifth player to win 10 major titles and the first since
Mickey Wright in 1961.
If those aren't enough accolades, Sorenstam also could make a run at Kathy
Whitworth's record of 88 career victories. Entering the season, Sorenstam
has 56 wins and is just two behind LPGA Founder Louise Suggs for fourth on
the all-time list.
The Teen Beat
This year there are five teenagers on the LPGA Tour and all of them are
expected to make some noise this season.
The group is led by 18-year-old twins Aree and Naree Song. Aree, who joined
the Tour one year ahead of her sister, burst onto the scene last year and
finished second in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race. Aree
finished second at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and recorded four other
top-10 finishes. This year Naree, who has played in 14 career LPGA events,
joins her sister after tying for 42nd at the 2004 LPGA Final Qualifying
Tournament Presented by American Airlines to gain non-exempt status.
Perhaps one of the most heralded players-rookie or not-on Tour this year will be Paula Creamer. The 18-year-old won the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American Airlines by five shots and already has a wealth of LPGA experience in her bag. Creamer has said she wants to make the 2005 U.S. Solheim Cup Team, and if her previous performances can carry into 2005, she has a chance.
She made the cut in all seven LPGA events she played in 2004 and flirted
with becoming the first amateur to win an event since 1969 when took second
at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Creamer also tied for 13th at the U.S.
Women's Open conducted by the USGA to share low amateur honors with Michelle Wie.
Creamer and Wie received the accolades at the end of the U.S. Women's Open
conducted by the USGA, but it was Brittany Lincicome who stole the show with
a dazzling first-round 5-under-par 66 to not only grab the opening-round
lead, but also match the lowest round by an amateur in tournament history.
She tied for 20th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by
American Airlines for exempt status and is sure to be a fixture at many Tour
events this year.
South Korea's 19-year-old sensation Sae-Hee Son joins the Tour after working
her way through the junior golf program in South Korea and finished in a tie
for seventh at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American
Airlines to also gain exempt status. After an opening-round 75, Son played
the final four rounds at 6-under par.
The Solheim Cup
The ninth staging of The Solheim Cup, one of the most prestigious events in
professional sports, will take place Sept. 9-11 at the famed Crooked Stick
Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., just outside of Indianapolis. The United States,
captained by LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Nancy Lopez, will attempt to regain the Cup after Europe's decisive 17-1/2 to 10-1/2 win in
Sweden in 2003.
The 12-member teams are decided in different ways. The United States
Solheim Cup Team is drawn from the top-10 players in The Solheim Cup points
standings, which are awarded for wins and top-20 finishes over a two-year
period. Lopez will have two captain's picks to round out the team, which
will be announced Aug. 28 after the completion of the Wendy's Championship
for Children.
The European Solheim Cup Team, captained by Catrin Nilsmark, qualifies the
top-seven players from the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour points
standings. Nilsmark then has five captain's selections to fill the
remaining slots. The European Solheim Cup Team will be announced after the
Ladies Norwegian Masters, which ends Aug. 21.
The United States has never lost a Solheim Cup on home soil; they are a
perfect 4-0 and have won those four Cups by an average of five points. The
Europeans, who lag behind in the overall competition 5-3, will be looking to
end that streak in September.
The Challengers
Who's going to step up in 2005 and challenge Annika as the best player on
the LPGA Tour?
Sorenstam ran away from the pack last year by winning eight tournaments,
including a major for the fourth straight year. But several players
finished with multiple wins, led by Meg Mallon's three wins. Mallon went on
a tear during the summer, winning the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the
USGA and following it up with a win at the BMO Financial Group Canadian
Women's Open and completed the trio with a win at the Jamie Farr Owens
Corning Classic Presented by Kroger. With the three wins, Mallon placed
fourth on the ADT Official Money List.
Joining Mallon as multiple winners in 2004 were Grace Park, Cristie Kerr,
Lorena Ochoa and Karen Stupples. Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship
for her first career major and followed it by winning the CJ Nine Bridges
Classic in South Korea. On the strength of an additional 10 top-10
finishes, including seven runner-ups, she finished second on the ADT
Official Money List with more than $1.5 million.
Stupples opened the 2004 season by winning the Welch's/Fry's Championship.
She followed up her first career win with a spectacular homecoming win at
the Weetabix Women's British Open. Stupples didn't just win the Weetabix
Women's British Open, she ran away with it, carding an 8-under-par 64 in the
final round to secure her first major title.
Ochoa had a breakthrough season in 2004, winning her first tournament on the
LPGA Tour in Nashville, Tenn., winning the Franklin American Mortgage
Championship benefiting Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. She then followed
that up with a win at the Wachovia LPGA Classic Hosted by Betsy King in
August to top off a banner year. Ochoa set LPGA records for birdies, rounds
under par and round in the 60s, and she finished third on the ADT Official
Money List.
Kerr, who was fifth on the season-ending ADT Official Money List, won three
times in 2004 and just missed a fourth title, falling to Sorenstam in a
sudden-death playoff at the season-ending ADT Championship.
The 15-year-old
The golf world's most popular 15-year-old looks to build off of a strong
2004 performance in LPGA Tour events, including a fourth-place finish at the
Kraft Nabisco Championship and a tie for 13th at the U.S. Women's Open
conducted by the USGA.
Wie has already accepted her six sponsor's exemptions this season, as she
will play in next week's SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Safeway International
Presented by Coca-Cola, Kraft Nabisco Championship, McDonald's LPGA
Championship Presented by Coca-Cola, Evian Masters and the Samsung World
Championship. Wie, by virtue of her finish at the 2004 U.S. Women's Open
conducted by the USGA has already qualified for the 2005 event. She has
also accepted a special invitation to compete in the Weetabix Women's
British Open.
The talented teen brings a strong game and mindset to the table and joins
the crop of up and comers who will make an impact on not only women's golf,
but all of professional sports.
Related links:
  • 2005 LPGA Tour Schedule
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    Woods' final round is highest-rated FEC telecast ever

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2018, 9:05 pm

    We've heard it a million times: Tiger Woods doesn't just move the needle, he IS the needle.

    Here's more proof.

    NBC Sports Group's final-round coverage of Woods claiming his 80th career victory in the Tour Championship earned a 5.21 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs and the highest-rated PGA Tour telecast in 2018 (excluding majors).

    The rating was up 206 percent over 2017's Tour Championship.

    Final FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Coverage peaked from 5:30-6PM ET (7.19) as Woods finished his round and as Justin Rose was being crowned the FedExCup champion. That number trailed only the 2018 peaks for the Masters (11.03) and PGA Championship (8.28). The extended coverage window (1:30-6:15 PM ET) posted a 4.35 overnight rating, which is the highest-rated Tour Championship telecast on record.

    Sunday’s final round also saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (up 561 percent year-over-year), and becomes the most-streamed NBC Sports Sunday round (excluding majors) on record.

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    Randall's Rant: Woods' comeback story ranks No. 1

    By Randall MellSeptember 24, 2018, 8:40 pm

    We’re marveling again.

    This time over the essence of the man as much as the athlete, over what Tiger Woods summoned to repair, rebuild and redeem himself, after scandal and injury so ruinously rocked his career.

    We watched in wonder Sunday as Woods completed the greatest comeback in the history of sport.

    That’s how we’re ranking this reconstruction of a champion. (See the rankings below.)

    We marveled over the admiration that flooded into the final scene of his victory at the Tour Championship, over the wave of adoring fans who enveloped him as he marched up the 18th fairway.

    This celebration was different from his coronation, when he won the Masters by 12 shots in 1997, or his masterpiece, when he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots in 2000, or his epic sweep, when he won at Augusta National in ’01 to claim his fourth consecutive major championship title.

    The awe back then was over how invincible Woods could seem in a sport where losing is the week-to-week norm, over how he could decimate the competition as no other player ever has.

    The awe today is as much over the transformed nature of the rebuilt man.

    It’s about what he has overcome since his aura of invincibility was decimated in the disgrace of a sex scandal, in the humiliation of a videotape of a DUI arrest, in the pain of four back surgeries and four knee surgeries and in the maddening affliction of chipping yips and driving and putting woes.

    The wonder is also in imagining the fierce inventory of self-examination that must have been grueling, and in the mustering of inner strength required to overcome foes more formidable than Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and today’s other stars.

    It’s in Woods overcoming shame, ridicule, doubt and probably some despair to rebuild his life outside the game before he could rebuild his life in the game.

    Woods may never let us know the detail or depth of those inner challenges, of what helped him prevail in his more spiritual battles, because he’s still fiercely private. He may never share the keys to rebuilding his sense of himself, but he’s more open than he has ever been. He shares more than he ever has.

    As a father of two children, as a mentor to so many of today’s young players, there’s more depth to the picture of this champion today. There also is more for fans to relate to in his struggles than his success. There’s more of the larger man to marvel over.

    The greatest comebacks in the history of sports:

    1. Tiger Woods

    Four back surgeries and four knee surgeries are just part of the story. It’s why Woods ranks ahead of Ben Hogan. Woods’ comeback was complicated by so many psychological challenges, by the demon doubts created in his sex scandal and DUI arrest. There was shame and ridicule to overcome on a public stage. And then there were the chipping yips, and the driving and putting woes.

    2. Ben Hogan

    On Feb. 2, 1949, a Greyhound bus attempting to pass a truck slammed head on into Hogan’s Cadillac on a Texas highway. Hogan probably saved his life throwing himself over the passenger side to protect his wife, Valerie. He suffered a double fracture of the pelvis, a cracked rib, a fractured collarbone and a broken ankle, but it was a blood clot that nearly killed him a few weeks later. Hogan needed 16 months to recover but would return triumphantly to win the 1950 U.S. Open and five more majors after that.

    3. Niki Lauda

    In the bravest sporting comeback ever, Lauda returned to grand prix racing 38 days after his Ferrari burst into flames in a crash in a race in Germany in 1976. Disfigured from severe burns, the reigning Formula One world champion was back behind the wheel at the Italian Grand Prix, finishing fourth. He won the world championship again in ’77 and ’84.

    4. Greg LeMond

    In 1987, LeMond was shot and nearly killed in a hunting accident. Two years later, he won his second Tour de France title. A year after that, he won it again.

    5. Babe Zaharias

    In 1953, Babe Zaharias underwent surgery for colon cancer. A year later, she won the U.S. Women’s Open wearing a colostomy bag. She also went on to win the Vare Trophy for low scoring average that year.

    6. Monica Seles

    Away from tennis for two years after being stabbed with a knife between the shoulder blades during a match in Germany, Seles won in her return to competition at the 1995 Canadian Open. She was the highest ranked women’s tennis player in the world at the time of the attack.

    7. Lance Armstrong

    After undergoing chemotherapy treatment in a battle with potentially fatal metastatic testicular cancer in 1996, Armstrong recovered and went on to win seven Tour de France titles. Of course, the comeback wasn’t viewed in the same light after he was stripped of all those titles after being implicated in a doping conspiracy.

    8. Mario Lemieux

    In the middle of the 1992-93 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins star underwent radiation treatment for Hodgkin disease and missed 20 games. Making a start the same day as his last treatment, Lemieux scored a goal and assist. The Penguins would go on a 17-game winning streak after his return and Lemieux would lead the league in scoring and win the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

    9. Peyton Manning

    Multiple neck surgeries and a spinal fusion kept Manning from playing with the Indianapolis Colts for the entire 2011 season. He was released before the 2012 season and signed with the Denver Broncos. He won his fifth NFL MVP Award in ’13 and helped the Broncos win the Super Bowl in the ’15 season.

    10. Bethany Hamilton

    A competitive surfer at 13, Hamilton lost her left arm in a shark attack in Hawaii. A month later, she was surfing again. Less than two years later, she was a national champion.

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    Woods' win makes us wonder, what's next?

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 24, 2018, 6:35 pm

    The red shirt and ground-shaking roars.

    The steely glare and sweet swings.

    The tactical precision and ruthless efficiency.

    If not for the iPhone-wielding mob following his every move, you’d swear that golf had been transported to the halcyon days of the early 2000s.

    The Tiger Time Machine kicked into overdrive at East Lake, where Woods won for the first time in 1,876 days and suddenly put two of the sport’s most hallowed numbers – 82 and 18 – back in play.

    “I didn’t understand how people could say he lost this and lost that,” said Hank Haney, Woods’ former swing coach. “He is so good. He’s Tiger Woods. He’s won 79 times. If he can swing, he can win again.”

    The only disappointing part of win No. 80 is that Woods will have to wait four months for another meaningful chance to build upon it. That’s a shame, because all of the pieces are in place for him to make a sustained run, and the Tour Championship might just be the start of an unimaginable final act.

    A season that began with questions about whether a 42-year-old Woods could survive a full schedule with no setbacks ended with him saving his best for last, when his younger, healthier peers seemed to be gassed. Taking his recovery week by week, Woods ended up making 18 starts – his second-heaviest workload since 2005 – and never publicly complained of any discomfort, only the occasional stiffness that comes with having a fused lower spine.

    Remember when Woods’ tanking world ranking was punch-line material? Now he’s all the way up to No. 13 – not bad for a guy who was 1,199th when he returned to competition last December at the Hero World Challenge. Nowhere close to reaching his 40-event minimum divisor, he’ll continue to accrue points and charge up the rankings, putting the game’s top players on notice.

    Final FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    The victory at East Lake moves Woods only two shy of Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour wins record (82), a goal that seemed unthinkable a year and a half ago, when he was bedridden following the Hail Mary fusion surgery. And for those wondering whether he’s capable of chasing down Big Jack, remember that Woods almost picked off two majors this summer, at Carnoustie and Bellerive, with a body and swing that was constantly evolving. 

    Indeed, in an era of TrackMans and coaching stables designed to maximize a player’s performance, Woods has refreshingly gone back to his roots. It always seemed incongruous, watching the game’s most brilliant golf mind scrutinize down-the-line swing video, and so this year he has been a solo act, relying on old feels to guide his new move. The credit for this resurgence is his alone. 

    Sure, there were growing pains, lots of them, and for months each tournament turned into golf’s version of Whack-a-Mole, as yet another issue arose. The two clubs that most consistently held Woods back were his driver and putter, but recent improvements portend well for the future.

    After wayward tee shots cost him the PGA, Woods changed the loft and shaft on his TaylorMade driver. For years, even while injured, he violently attacked the ball in a vain attempt to hang with the big hitters. But these tweaks to his gamer (resulting in lower swing speed and carry distance) were a concession that accuracy was more vital to his success than power. His newfound discipline was rewarded: He ended the season with four consecutive weeks of positive strokes gained: off the tee statistics, and on Sunday he put on a clinic while Rory McIlroy, one of the game’s preeminent drivers, thrashed around in the trees. Woods is still plenty long, closing out his victory with a 348-yard rocket on 18, and from the middle of the fairway he can rely on his vintage iron play. 

    His troubles with the putter weren’t as quick of a fix. Frustrated with his inconsistent performance on the greens, Woods briefly flirted with other models before rekindling his love affair with his old Scotty Cameron, the trusty putter with which he’s won 13 of his 14 majors. It’s exceedingly rare for a player to overcome the frayed nerve endings and putt better in his 40s than his 30s, but Woods was downright masterful on East Lake’s greens.

    “It’s more satisfaction than anything,” said Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava. “People have no idea how much work he put into this.”

    By almost any statistical measure, Woods’ season-long numbers suggest that he’s already back among the game’s elite – even after struggling to walk and swing for the past four years. He’s the best iron player in the game. He finished the season ranked seventh in strokes gained: tee to green. And after his normally stellar short game went MIA for a few years, his play around the greens appeared as sharp as ever.

    And so on Sunday, while watching Woods school the top 30 players on Tour, even Johnny Miller got caught up in the latest edition of Tigermania.

    “He’s not looking like he could win a couple more,” Miller said. “He’s looking like he could win A LOT more.”

    Where Woods’ story is headed – to No. 1 in the world, to the top of Mt. Nicklaus, to the operating table – is anyone’s guess, because this comeback has already defied any reasonable logic or expectation.

    He’s come back from confidence-shattering performances at Phoenix (chip yips) and Memorial (85) and even his own media-day event where he humiliatingly rinsed a series of wedge shots.

    He’s come back from four back surgeries and pain so debilitating that his kids once found him face down in the backyard; pain so unbearable that he used to keep a urine bucket next to his bed, because he couldn’t schlep his battered body to the bathroom.

    He’s come back from an addiction so deep that in May 2017 police found him slumped over the steering wheel of his Mercedes, five drugs coursing through his system, a shocking and sad DUI arrest that was the catalyst for this clear-eyed comeback.

    All of the months of unhappiness and uncertainty nearly came pouring out afterward – the culmination of a remarkable journey from turmoil to redemption that ranks among the most unlikely in sports history. Woods fought back tears as thousands formed a big green mosh pit and chanted his name, a surreal scene even for this larger-than-life legend. Hugging LaCava, Woods said into his caddie’s ear, over and over: “We did it! We did it! We did it!” 

    “He’s pumped up,” LaCava said later. “I’ve never seen him this excited.”

    And not just for this moment, but for the future.

    The prospects are as tantalizing as ever. 

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    DJ may keep cross-handed grip for Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 4:29 pm

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – As he’s proven in the past Dustin Johnson isn’t averse to switching things up when it comes to his putting, but this was extreme even for him.

    Johnson switched to a cross-handed grip on the sixth hole during Saturday’s third round at the Tour Championship and continued to use the same grip through the final round.

    It was the first time he’d putted cross-handed in competition and the first time he switched his grip mid-round.

    Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    “I did it a few times on the putting green. Sometimes I do it on the putting green just to get my setup a little bit better because it just levels out my shoulders,” said Johnson, who closed his week at East Lake with a 67 and finished alone in third place. “I was putting well. I hit some bad putts for the first five holes, so after I hit a really bad putt for eagle on 6, the next one I tried it, I made it, so I kept it going.”

    Johnson, who moved back into the top spot in the World Golf Ranking thanks to his third-place finish, was encouraged by his putting on the weekend but he was vague when asked if he planned to putt cross-handed this week at the Ryder Cup.

    “We're going to stick with it for now. We'll try it,” he said.