Young Stars Manage Success
The list included eight players: Angela Stanford (25); Hee-Won Han (25); Grace Park (24); Hilary Lunke (24); Dorothy Delasin (23); Jeong Jang (23); Candie Kung (22); and Lorena Ochoa (22).
These young players were among the elite group completing the season at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., two weeks ago, but many other young players showcased their talents this year, all while managing their success and life on the road on their own.
Entering the real world can be intimidating for most young adults, whether 18 and just out of high school or 22 and just out of college, but the prospect of making it on your own can be especially daunting for a young professional athlete.
At any age, life as a professional golfer can be a challenge, yet many of the young stars on the LPGA Tour successfully handle a professional career and the responsibilities of life on the road. Michelle McGann, Cristie Kerr, Dorothy Delasin, and Christina Kim are a few of the active LPGA players who joined the LPGA Tour right out of high school.
Goals of making it big on the professional circuit kept them from attending college and led them to chase their dreams of being a top name on the LPGA Tour. Visions of owning ones own home and being financially independent also are driving forces toward success.
For some young players, a difficult aspect about making it on the LPGA Tour is growing into their own personality while being independent, but also dealing with the hardships of missing their families.
This was the case earlier in the year for the 2003 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico.
The most difficult thing about success at this age is making the sacrifice to be away from my family in Mexico, said Ochoa, who just turned 22 on Nov. 15. My biggest responsibilities right now are to work hard and have the determination to keep practicing.
Ochoas hard work and hours of practice definitely paid off as she finished the season ranked ninth on the ADT Official Money List, becoming only the 16th player in LPGA history to reach the top-10 on a season-ending money list prior to her 25th birthday.
The 22-year-old had eight top 10s this season, including two runner-ups and three third-place finishes en route to winning the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. With the season concluding, Ochoa can now spend some time in Mexico with her family.
For Natalie Gulbis, who turns 21 on Jan. 7, 2004, one of her most challenging, yet rewarding, tasks this year was buying her own house.
The most exciting part about buying my own place is just having a place to call your own, said 20-year-old Natalie Gulbis, who bought her first house at Lake Las Vegas on Reflection Bay Golf Club in Nevada and finished ranked 39th on the ADT Official Money List. Its a fun process to decorate and pick out everything, and its a nice outlet because Ive never had a hobby outside of golf.
Delasin, who won the 2000 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year at the age of 19, is the youngest player currently on the LPGA Tour with four career victories. Delasin won her fourth victory last month at the Mobile LPGA Tournament of Champions. With the wins came money, excitement, publicity but also more responsibility.
The best part about having success at a young age is that I bought my car and a house for my family with my own money, Delasin said. It was the best feeling just to be able to do it on my own. One of the most unexpected parts is that no one thought I could win.
Delasin became the youngest player in LPGA history to reach $1 million in career earnings in 2002 at the age of 21 years, 7 months and 12 days. She is one of seven LPGA Tour players who have reached the top 30 on the season-ending money list by the age of 20, which she did in 2000, joining Brandie Burton, Donna Caponi, Sandra Haynie, Carol Mann, Judy Rankin and Kathy Whitworth.
Delasin says one of her biggest responsibilities is paying the bills and keeping her place clean, which is difficult since shes hardly ever there, so this is where her help steps in.
I have a great management, Delasin said. My agent pays for all my bills so I dont have to worry about it. All I do is play golf. Im pretty lucky with that.
Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”
Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.
Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.
“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.
To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.
“More punishment,” he said.
DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.
Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.
Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.
Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.
It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.
With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.
Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.
TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:
• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.
• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.
• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery.
• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”
• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.
• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.
• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.