Watch Out 2002
These are the ominous words of Annika Sorenstam upon the conclusion of the 2001 season. Three and a half months later she's still doing it - winning that is.
Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and the third, yet riskier, member of the triumvirate Se Ri Pak lead the list of who to watch this season.
Pak made sure she was not a fading star. After a winless 2000 season, she made a gamut of changes and came back strong in 2001.
The young Korean finished second in both Rolex Player of the Year points and season earnings. Of the 21 events she played in, she won five times and earned $1,623,009. If Pak can match her 2001 performance, she could literally give Sorenstam a run for her money. This week Pak unveils her 2002 game at the PING Banner Health amidst bold statements. 'I am tired of second place. I want to be number one,' Pak said.
Sorenstam, Webb, Pak - there's a reason they're called 'the Big Three' and there is no reason they should not continue to dominate the Tour this season.
They will not be alone.
The rookie class of 1999 has produced two players in particular that bear closer inspection - Laura Diaz and Marisa Baena.
In just three short years, Diaz has made her move from the 60s on the money list to finishing in the top 10 in 2001. Her solid play earned her 12 top-10 finishes and a berth at the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship. Diaz, who is friendly with Dottie Pepper and David Duval - both of whom know what it takes to be in the top 10 - finished second three times in 2001 (McDonald's LPGA Championship, the Sybase Big Apple Classic and tied for second at the Welch's/Circle K Championship). A win can't be far off.
Baena of Columbia made a giant leap up the ranks as well - she finished 33rd on the money list in 2001, up from 101st in 2000. Baena, a spunky and much-liked member of the Tour with an electric smile and smooth swing, has great potential.
Maria Hjorth (He-Yorth) of Sweden joined the LPGA in 1998. Her rookie year she earned $133,943 and finished 56th on the money list and in relative obscurity. In 1999 she recorded her first Tour win at the Safeco Classic and went on to win again at the Mizuno Classic. Two wins were impressive enough, but Hjorth continued to impress when it was announced that she won the second event with borrowed clubs (hers were lost by the airline she flew). She finished 11th with $572,940 in winnings. Even though she had a setback in 2000 - finishing 50th - Hjorth, ranked fifth on the 2001 money list, went on to win $848,195 in the 29 events she played to break into the top 10 for the first time.
Some players haven't had a chance to make their mark. Catherine Cartwright and Natalie Gulbis are two such players.
Cartwright is a wee 18-year-old but at six-feet tall she is already a giant in the golf world. In 2000 she finished 57th at Subaru and won the U.S. Women's Public Links Championship. After turning pro, she played in the 2001 Subaru Memorial of Naples and finished with a respectable 65th place. By the time the Tour wraped up in November of 2001, Cartwright - the youngest member of the LPGA Tour - will have just turned 19.
Gulbis is only two months younger than Cartwright, and like her fellow rookie, she has a few things going for her. Gulbis is tough in competition - she proved this when she finished third at Q-school - and she knows how to play with the big girls.
As a 14-year-old in 1997, Gulbis became the youngest person at the time to Monday qualify for an event. She did so at the Longs Drugs Challenge. In 1998, as an amateur, she again played the Longs Drugs Challenge - where she tied for 34th. She also teed it up in the U.S. Women's Open last year.
Two rookies, three up-and-comers and three who lead the way - eight players worth watching this year.
Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race
A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.
Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.
Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.
Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Bubba Watson
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Xander Schauffele
12. Matt Kuchar
13. Kevin Kisner
14. Tony Finau
15. Brian Harman
On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.
Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Francesco Molinari
2. Justin Rose
3. Tyrrell Hatton
4. Tommy Fleetwood
1. Jon Rahm
2. Alex Noren
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Paul Casey
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.