A Year to Remember

By Lpga Tour MediaDecember 12, 2006, 5:00 pm
LPGA logo for LeaderboardsDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The 2006 season brought about many firsts for the LPGA. Golf's first-ever playoff system ' the LPGA Playoffs 2006 ' revolutionized the season format and delivered excitement and drama at every event. Players worked throughout the year to qualify for the season-ending ADT Championship, the culmination of the LPGA Playoffs 2006, with rookie Julieta Granada winning the event and a record $1 million paycheck, the largest paycheck in the history of women's golf.
 
Lorena Ochoa
Lorena Ochoa had plenty to be pumped about this season, especially her tour leading six victories.
In February, the five major women's professional golf tours ' LPGA, Ladies European Tour (LET), Ladies Professional Golfers' Association of Japan (JLPGA), Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA), Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) ' and the Ladies' Golf Union (LGU) jointly unveiled the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, the first official rankings system for women's golf.
 
On the golf course, competition was as fierce as ever. Annika Sorenstam's dominance of the LPGA Tour was challenged by a variety of veterans and rising stars, although Sorenstam kept her name near the top of most lists thanks in no small part to her U.S. Women's Open victory over Pat Hurst in an 18-hole playoff. Also, who could forget Sorenstam's final-round 62 for a come-from-behind win at the State Farm Classic, where she also clinched the State Farm LPGA Series $250,000 bonus pool.
 
Lorena Ochoa proved that she could be the heir to Sorenstam's throne with six wins this season to receive her first Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy honors, earning more than $2 million this season for the 2006 ADT Official Money List title. The 25-year-old Mexican star recorded 20 top-10 finishes this season, which included six runner-up finishes. She recorded 46 of her 89 (.517) rounds in the 60s, carding scores of 66 and lower 20 times.
 
Karrie Webb mounted a comeback, although it's difficult to say she was ever in much of a slump, kick-started by an amazing hole-out for eagle at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first of five wins in 2006. The win inspired Se Ri Pak, who won the McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Coca in a playoff with Webb, thanks to a hybrid 4-iron from 201 yards that rolled to within inches. Veteran Sherri Steinhauer capped off the major championship season with a win at the Weetabix Women's British Open, her third at that event but her first since it was designated a major. Cristie Kerr continued to impress as the most successful American player in the past three seasons, adding three more victories and contending in nearly every event in which she played. Inspired by a Lucky Quarter, she overcame an eight-stroke deficit in the final round to win the CN Canadian Women's Open. Later in the year, she shot a 61, the Tour's season-low score, in the second round of the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic presented by SemGroup to earn her third win of the season.
 
Ochoa began the season tying for second place at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, the season opener. Signs of her breakout year came during the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she tied the lowest score in a major with an opening-round 62. Ochoa lost that week in a playoff to Webb, but came back to win her next event, the LPGA Takefuji Classic. From there, Ochoa tied for second place in her next three events before notching her second victory of the season at the rain-shortened Sybase Classic Presented by Lincoln Mercury.
 
Her next victory came at the Wendy's Championship for Children, as she carded all four rounds in the 60s, but it was the next three victories that were the most meaningful to Ochoa. She traveled home to Mexico in October and won her first LPGA Tour event on her home turf, when she won the Corona Morelia Championship. She followed that win up with a come-from-behind victory over Rolex Rankings No. 1 Sorenstam at the Samsung World Championship. Ochoa's final win of the 2006 season came in Mobile, Ala., two weeks ago where she recorded an amazing 10-shot victory to clinch her first Rolex Player of the Year honors.
 
The 2006 season was also a time for five Rolex First-Time winners to shine with their first career victories. Granada took home the largest check in LPGA history at the ADT Championship, while Brittany Lincicome notched her first career victory at the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship where she took home a $500,000 paycheck. Rookie Seon-Hwa Lee also had a breakout season, as she won the ShopRite LPGA Classic to go along with seven top-10 finishes to earn Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors in a star-studded rookie class.
 
The season belonged to the Ochoa, but she wasn't the only story of the LPGA Tour's season, as it was a memorable 2006 with so many firsts to go along with some amazing comebacks and multiple breakout performances.
 
Breakout seasons - Although Lorena Ochoa took home most of the honors this year, it was also a year for multiple breakout seasons, as five players became Rolex First-Time Winners this year. Twenty-year-old Julieta Granada was the most recent winner last week as she took home the Tour's largest paycheck, $1 million, with her win at the ADT Championship. Granada joins four other Rolex First-Time Winners, which include: Joo Mi Kim at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay; Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Seon Hwa Lee at the ShopRite LPGA Classic; Brittany Lincicome at the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship; and Sung Ah Yim at the Florida's Natural Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez.
 
Tour sets millionaire record in 2006 - Eleven LPGA members earned more than $1 million in season earnings during 2006, setting an LPGA record for most millionaires in a season. The record was previously set in 2005 when six players accomplished the feat. The following players were involved in updating the record books in 2006, earning over $1 million this season: Lorena Ochoa ($2,592,872); Karrie Webb ($2,090,113); Annika Sorenstam ($1,971,741); Julieta Granada ($1,633,586); Cristie Kerr ($1,578,362); Mi Hyun Kim ($1,332,274); Juli Inkster ($1,326,442); Jeong Jang ($1,151,070); Hee-Won Han ($1,147,651); Pat Hurst ($1,128,662) and Paula Creamer ($1,076,163).
 
Creamer sets LPGA money record without a win - After winning two events on Tour during her rookie season to earn Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors, second-year player Paula Creamer did not win an event this year, but she still turned in another successful season. The 20-year-old finished the year with 14 top-10 finishes in 27 starts. She passed the $1 million mark in season earnings for the second-consecutive year and earned $1,076,163, which is the most money earned by a player without a win. Creamer breaks Natalie Gulbis' record, which she set last year when she earned $1,010,154 without a win. Creamer's best finish of the season came two weeks ago at The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions presented by Kathy Ireland Worldwide, where she tied for second.
 
Hall of Fame inductions - Three members of the LPGA were inducted into Halls of Fame during 2006. Marilynn Smith, one of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour in 1950, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Oct. 30 as part of the 2006 class. Smith, who was also one of the founding members of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) membership, was selected for induction through the Lifetime Achievement category.
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McIlroy: U.S. Open MC 'blessing in disguise'

By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 11:47 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Watching a major championship unfold from the comfort of your living room is never an ideal strategy for any top-ranked pro, but sometimes players are forced to make the best of a bad situation.

Case in point Rory McIlroy, who ballooned to an opening-round 80 at the U.S. Open and never factored after that. The Ulsterman struggled to find a comfort zone at Shinnecock Hills, missing the U.S. Open cut for the third straight year.

But given a few extra days to prep, McIlroy appears to have cured what was ailing him after leading the Travelers Championship field in a number of ball-striking categories during an opening-round 64 that left him one shot behind leaders Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Obviously you never want to miss a cut in a major, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for the rest of the year,” McIlroy said.

Even after hitting 17 of 18 greens in regulation during his second trip around Shinnecock, McIlroy went back to the drawing board as he looks to emulate the swing he used in 2010 and 2011 when he won twice on the PGA Tour including the U.S. Open. While he notes that changes to his body will limit his ability to conjure an exact replica, he’s more in search of the positive thoughts that helped get his burgeoning pro career off the ground.

“It’s just trying to go back and, OK, I was swinging it really well then. What was I doing? What was I thinking about? What was the focus on the swing?” McIlroy said. “Just trying to rack your brain to recreate feelings that you had back then. That’s basically what I did over the weekend. I got a feeling that really sort of resonated with me, and brought me back to a time when I was swinging it really well, and just sort of went with that feeling.”

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Spieth, McIlroy get back on track at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 11:18 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – What a difference a week makes.

Players speak in unison about a desire to peak four times per year when the major trophies are on the line. But it’s a soft science, easier said than done. Sometimes the key is to play your way onto the biggest stages, while other times the best practice is to build reps far away from the PGA Tour rope line.

Jordan Spieth got to Shinnecock Hills the weekend before the U.S. Open began, logging two full practice rounds before sitting down for his pre-tournament interview. Rory McIlroy went to an even further extreme, basically establishing residency in the Hamptons while playing every top-100 golf course within a 20-mile radius.

They were concerted efforts, carefully calculated plans of attack that both men hoped would yield a second U.S. Open title. They also blew up in their faces in record time.

Spieth was 4 over after just two holes at Shinnecock, while McIlroy played his first 11 in 10 over. Just like that, the best-laid plans got lost in the knee-high fescue as one of a finite number of legitimate shots at major glory went by the wayside before lunch was served.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Both players snuck off the premises well before the course became the weekend storyline, each bearing the battle scars of a missed cut. But given a chance to quickly reverse their fortunes, they both took full advantage at the Travelers Championship.

Spieth has spoken openly in recent weeks about the wars he continues to wage with his own game, as his putter has been downgraded from balky to outright uncooperative. Just as things started to turn around on the greens at the Memorial, his reliable ball-striking began to fade. A full-blown game of whack-a-mole has ensued.

“It’s certainly a testing year for me, and it’s a building year,” Spieth said. “It’s one where I can actually come out stronger. I’ve kind of looked at it that way the last couple months.”

It’s also been difficult for Spieth simply to get out of the gates in recent weeks. His third-place showing at the Masters remains a high water mark, but it was the product of a scintillating finale that came after starting the day well off the pace. Spieth remains candid about the fact that he has lacked a quality chance to win this year, one that he has previously defined as being within six shots of the lead entering Sunday.

All of those factors combined to make his opening 63 especially satisfying, as he returned to TPC River Highlands as defending champ and quickly grabbed a share of the lead, once again carving up a lush layout where he has nothing but positive memories.

“First rounds have been tough for me, trying to do a little bit too much. Trying to get shots back when I drop one and trying to have to birdie easy holes,” Spieth said. “The putter is starting to look better to me, so I can play a little bit more conservatively and still get a lot out of the round.”

McIlroy was alongside Spieth and Zach Johnson before a bogey on the final hole, but even a 6-under 64 matched his low round of the season on Tour. The Ulsterman downplayed his eye-popping score at Shinnecock entering a fresh week, noting that his tee-to-green performance where he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation during the second round might be good enough to win this week at a more vulnerable venue.

It appears his thesis has merit, albeit through one round.

“I did a lot of similar things to what I did today. It’s just a completely different animal,” McIlroy said. “Like, it’s nice getting off to a good start here. But as I keep saying, I’m not playing that differently now than I did last Thursday, and it’s a 16-shot difference.”

Just like his last competitive round, McIlroy missed only one green in regulation. But this time the stat line portends even greater potential, as he also led the field Thursday in driving distance, strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: tee-to-green.

McIlroy’s ceiling remains absurdly high, as demonstrated by the way he surged from the pack to win at Bay Hill and seemingly took early command of the BMW PGA Championship without breaking a sweat. It also doesn’t need lowering after a couple errant days on a grand stage.

“I played really well today. I feel like the work that I did over the weekend sort of started to pay off already,” McIlroy said. “Being able to work the ball both ways was something I wasn’t quite as comfortable doing last week.”

Despite flooding their respective scorecards with birdies, neither Spieth nor McIlroy created any distance from the field on a day when low scores were ripe for the picking. A total of 22 players opened with rounds of 66 or better, including four major champions not named Spieth or McIlroy.

But after pouring time, effort and energy into last week’s major and watching it all go so horribly wrong, this was a day to remember that sometimes the solutions are closer than the recent results make them appear.

“I’ve been sticking to the process. I’ve been very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year. So it’s nice to see a good score,” Spieth said. “Just glad. The first rounds have been kind of detrimental to me, so it’s nice to be in the thick of things.”

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Spieth shares Hartford lead; Rory 1 back

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 10:35 pm

Just a few miles north but light years removed from the difficulty of Shinnecock Hills, the PGA Tour returned to week-in, week-out normalcy with the Travelers Championship. Here's what happened in the first round at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.:

Leaderboard: Zach Johnson (-7), Jordan Spieth (-7), Rory McIlroy (-6), Peter Malnati (-6), Brian Harman (-6)

What it means: The two biggest names in the field, Spieth and McIlroy, are looking for a boost of confidence after missing the cut in the U.S. Open. Their scores look good, but McIlroy won't be happy about closing with a bogey.

Round of the day: Johnson and Spieth both put up 7-under 63s. Johnson, after a relatively pedestrian 2-under front nine, caught fire on the back, making six consecutive birdies on holes 11-16. A three-putt bogey at the 17th ended the run, and he parred the last for his 63. Spieth, the defending champion, put up two birdies and an eagle on the front and four more birdies on the back. Like Johnson, he had only one blemish, a bogey-5 on the drivable par-4 15th when he hooked his drive into the water.

Best of the rest: McIlroy, Malnati and Harman each shot 64. Malnati eagled the 15th and followed that with birdies at 16 and 17 and a back-nine 29. Harman had a rare birdie on the 444-yard 18th for his 64, but McIlroy threw away a shot at the closing hole to fall out of a share of the lead. His right foot slipped as he was hitting his approach shot, and he missed the green. After taking a drop to get away from a sprinkler head, he was unable to get up and down.

Biggest disappointment: Bubba Watson, a two-time winner of this event, could manage no better than an even-par 70. Two-under through 11 holes, he bogeyed three of the next four.

Shot of the day: Can we safely say that Spieth likes the bunkers at River Highlands? Last year he got up and down from one at the 18th hole to get into a playoff, then he holed out from the same bunker to win the playoff. On Thursday he worked his magic at the par-5 sixth hole, sinking his sand shot for eagle.

Biggest storyline going into Friday: Most eyes will be on Spieth and McIlroy, to see if they're over their U.S. Open funks and gearing up for The Open Championship.

NBC Sports Group to Showcase Top Players in Women's Golf With Comprehensive Coverage of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, June 25-July 1

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

Golf Channel and NBC to Combine for More Than 40 Hours of News, Tournament and Instruction On-Site from Kemper Lakes Golf Club, Most in Tournament History 

KPMG Ambassador Phil Mickelson to Join Golf Central on Monday, June 25 Live from Soldier Field 

Condoleezza Rice and Olympians Nancy Kerrigan, Hilary Knight and Maia Shibutani to Headline KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Wednesday, June 27

 

ORLANDO, Fla., June 21, 2018 – Featuring one of the strongest fields of the year, NBC Sports Group will dedicate more than 40 hours of comprehensive on-site news, tournament and instruction coverage of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – most in tournament history – Monday, June 25 - Sunday, July 1. Taking place at Kemper Lakes Golf Club near Chicago, the third LPGA Tour major of the season will be headlined by World No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, No. 3 Lexi Thompson, ANA Inspiration champion Pernilla Lindberg and defending champion Danielle Kang. In 2017, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was the most-watched women’s major championship of the year. 

Through the partnership with KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has been elevated to become one of the most impactful weeks of the year in women’s golf,” said Molly Solomon, executive vice president of content, Golf Channel. “As the broadcast partner for the championship, we strive to elevate our coverage each year to celebrate not only the best players in women’s golf but also female leaders in the workplace through the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.” 

BROADCAST TEAM: Live tournament coverage of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be anchored by Dan Hicks, joined by Paige Mackenzie and Gary Koch in the broadcast booth. Tom Abbott will report from an on-course tower, with Kay Cockerill, Jerry Foltz and Mark Rolfing walking the course. Steve Sands will conduct player interviews. 

NBC SPORTS GROUP TO IMPLEMENT POPULAR “PLAYING THROUGH” ENCHANCED COMMERCIAL BREAKS: Making its debut on NBC at the Ryder Cup in 2016, Golf Channel and NBC will implement the popular “Playing Through” enhancement in an effort to elevate the viewing experience for fans tuning in to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. NBC Sports Group is partnering with several national advertisers to present select commercial breaks in utilizing “Playing Through,” which will employ a split-screen model for a select number of national commercial breaks. This enhanced break will display both the commercial with audio as well as a continuous feed of the tournament action. 

COMPREHENSIVE ON-SITE NEWS COVERAGE: Golf Channel’s signature news programs, Golf Central and Morning Drive, will provide comprehensive, wraparound news coverage throughout the week, produced on-location at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. In addition to daily shows, Golf Central will present special player news conference shows Tuesday and Wednesday, June 26 and 27, at 5 p.m. ET. 

Rich Lerner will anchor Golf Central’s live coverage alongside LPGA major champion Karen Stupples and Arron Oberholser beginning Wednesday, June 27, with Lisa Cornwell reporting and conducting player interviews. Chantel McCabe will set the stage each day on Morning Drive with on-site interviews and analysis, with Paige Mackenzie joining her Monday-Wednesday. 

PHIL MICKELSON TO JOIN GOLF CENTRAL LIVE FROM SOLDIER FIELD MONDAY, JUNE 25: Kicking off KPMG Women’s PGA Championship week will be the KPMG Windy City Skills Challenge, taking place at Soldier Field in Chicago on Monday, June 25. KPMG Ambassadors Phil Mickelson and Mariah Stackhouse along with athletes from the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Fire, Red Stars and Skywill be conducting a special clinic and skills challenge event with local youth organizations. Mickelson will join Golf Central live from Soldier Field on Monday following the conclusion of the skills challenge. 

SCHOOL OF GOLF ON-SITE AT KEMPER LAKES: School of Golf will air Tuesday at 7 p.m. from on-site at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, with Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal hosting a special short-game episode. Scheduled guests include 2018 U.S. Women’s Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn and her coaches, Golf Channel Academy coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, as well as LPGA major champion Morgan Pressel.  

KPMG WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP SUMMIT: Golf Central will offer news coverage of the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, which will be hosted on-site Wednesday, June 27, featuring an assembly of accomplished leaders in sports, business, politics and media to inspire the next generation of women leaders. 66th Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympians Nancy Kerrigan, Hilary Knight and Maia Shibutani will headline the gathering. NBC Sunday Night Football sideline reporter Michele Tafoya will serve as master of ceremonies. The summit will be streamed live on Wednesday on Golf Channel Digital. In addition, portions of the summit also will be streamed via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live. 

DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Golf Channel Digital will feature expanded editorial content during KPMG Women’s PGA Championship week. GolfChannel.com senior writer Randall Mell will report from Kemper Lakes Golf Club with columns and daily blogs, and Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will contribute to Golf Channel’s social media platforms with exclusive behind-the-scenes content throughout the week. Golf Channel and NBC also will integrate social media throughout the telecasts, incorporating social media posts from players and fans using the hashtag #KPMGWomensPGA. 

News and tournament action surrounding the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship can be accessed at any time on any mobile device and online via Golf Channel Digital. Fans also can stream NBC Sports’ coverage of live golf via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports app.

 GOLF CHANNEL / NBC LIVE TOURNAMENT AIRTIMES(all times Eastern):

Thursday, June 28

Round 1

11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Golf Channel

Friday, June 29

Round 2

11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Golf Channel

Saturday, July 30

Round 3

3-6 p.m.

NBC

Sunday, July 1

Final Round

3-6 p.m.

NBC

 

The PGA of America and KPMG joined forces with the LPGA Tour in 2015 to create a world-class major championship that not only sustains the 60-year legacy of the former LPGA Championship, but also aims to elevate women on and off the golf course. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship provides a platform to inspire the next generation of women leaders through the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit and the KPMG Future Leaders Program.

 -NBC Sports Group-