In Its 50th Year A Look Back
The 2000 season began with a seemingly invincible Karrie Webb. The young Australian dominated the Tour in the 1999 season, then gave competitors a run for their money after opening with a 3-0 start in 2000. Webb may have gone on winning if not for the playing efforts of Charlotta Sorenstam. The younger sister of Webb's fiercest competitor surprised everyone by capturing her first win at the Standard Register Ping. Pitted against the goliaths of ladies' golf (Karrie Webb and older sister Annika), Charlotta entered the final round tied for the lead and miraculously finished the victor. Charlotta had joined the winning ranks and no one was happier for her than older sister Annika.
But as the saying goes 'You can't keep a good woman down.'
Karrie Webb proved this was true after making her way back in the winner's circle the very next week. The indefatigable Webb reasserted herself at the Nabisco Championship, capturing the first major title of the year and setting the pace for others to follow.
The Nabisco Championship in many ways foreshadowed what the year held in store. The beloved championship - the 'Dinah,' as it is affectionately known on Tour - lost something near and dear to fans of women's golf when the decision was made to drop Dinah Shore's name from the tournament title. Yet, as fans and competitors alike grappled with this passing, there would be something new added to the feel of the event. That something came in the form of twin girls who made their way into the spotlight and captured our hearts. We found ourselves marveling at the wonder of these two young girls and the advanced golfing prowess already within their possession. At a mere 13 years of age, Aree and Naree Song Wongluekiet became the youngest participants in the history of The Nabisco Championship. For Naree, 2000 would not be the year she made the cut - for Aree it would. Aree Song Wongluekiet continued to boggle our minds by finishing tied for third place amongst the LPGA's top competitors.
Things were heating up with the advent of summer and history was in the making. Janice Moodie made her way into the history books by becoming the second Scot ever to win on the LPGA Tour after capturing the ShopRite LPGA Classic in July. Karrie Webb also made history after capturing her second major of the year at the U.S. Women's Open. Webb not only took home another win at the U.S. Women's Open, she also banked the largest first place check in LPGA Tour history at $500,000. In another historic note, 19-year-old Dorothy Delasin became the youngest LPGA tournament winner since 1975 when she took home the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic trophy after winning a playoff against Pat Hurst.
In July, history closed the books on the du Maurier Classic. The event came to a quiet end - the result of legislation passed by the Canadian government banning title sports sponsorship by tobacco companies. With the passing of the du Maurier Classic, the LPGA Tour was faced with finding a replacement or resigning itself to three majors a year instead of four. But 2000 was the year for growth, not retraction, and to everyone's relief the LPGA Tour announced, just two months later, that the Weetabix Women's British Open would become the fourth major.
As fall was ushered in so were two first-time winners. Lorie Kane, often referred to as 'the bridesmaid of golf,' captured her long-awaited first title in August at the Michelob Light Classic. It took some four-plus years for her to win on the LPGA Tour, and with her first victory the floodgates opened. Kane went on to win two more times in the next two months (New Albany Golf Classic and Mizuno Classic). Another newcomer in the winner's circle, two-year Tour veteran Laurel Kean, had cause to celebrate after becoming the first Monday qualifier to win in LPGA history. Her win, at the State Farm Rail Classic, was achieved by carding rounds of 66-66-66.
But achievements in women's golf were not isolated to the Americans. Interest in the sport has become truly global, reaching unprecedented heights throughout the world - and America, it seems, is no longer the dominating force. Never was this more evident than at the 2000 Solheim Cup. On Scottish ground, the European team, captained by Dale Reid, regained the Cup for only the second time in the history of the event. The Solheim Cup was not the only disappointment for the Americans. Another upset was waiting right around the corner. Just three weeks later, after a 16-year drought, the JLPGA ousted the LGPA from the winner's circle at the CISCO World Ladies Challenge.
The year was about change yet, ironically, at year's end, it was Karrie Webb finishing right where she began - on top. Without fail, Webb has once again set the benchmark by creating a single-season earning record after winning $1,876.853. In the process, Webb took home her second consecutive Rolex Player of the Year and Vare trophy honors. The Australian's seven victories, including two majors, made her the first player since Beth Daniel in 1990 to win seven times in one season. The season also featured seven Rolex first time winners ranging from first year rookies to long time veterans. They included Charlotta Sorenstam, Sophie Gustafson, Grace Park, Janice Moodie, Dorothy Delasin, Lorie Kane, and Laurel Kean.
In a twist of fate, 2000 marked the first year that superstar Se Ri Pak would not win an event. But for most, there was cause to celebrate as the season closed. Three veterans in particular had good reason - Judy Rankin, Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster became the newest members in the Hall of Fame when they were inducted Nov. 20th at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL.
Fulfilling the requirements for the Hall of Fame is a difficult process - yet to no one's surprise, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam earned the necessary points for the Hall of Fame and now wait to fulfill the 10-year Tour membership requirement - Karrie will be inducted in 2005 and Annika in 2003. 2000 was truly a historic year.
Upon reflection, the LPGA Tour, now 50 years strong, entertained, awed, and endeared. There are new benchmarks, new hopes, and yes, new life has been breathed into women's golf. For every ending there was a beginning and as a result the new millennium shows every indication that it will be an exciting and innovative time in women's golf.
Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'
CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.
Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.
Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.
The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.
“I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”
Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.
The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.
“If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”
Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.
Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.
Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):
7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger
Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.
8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson
Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.
12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox
This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.
1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas
This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.
Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.
How to watch:
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Purse: $7 million
Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)
Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
Notables in the field
• Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week
• 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)
• Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)
• Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)
• First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)
• First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)
• Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)
• Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)
• Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)
• Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)
• Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)
• Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season
• Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018
• Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)
Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil
CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.
The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.
Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.
“It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”
But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.
“It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”
USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.
Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.
“It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”