Wies Aspirations Not Too Far-Fetched

By Mike RitzJune 25, 2002, 4:00 pm
SUNRIVER, Ore. -- First it was Tiger Woods winning a national championship on a public course. Now, 19-year-old Annie Thurman is the newest national champ to win on a public track. The Utah teenager, an Oklahoma State sophomore, is the 26th Womens Amateur Public Links Champion.
Annie triumphed in a USGA test that made Tigers win at Bethpage look like a walk in the park (which, technically, it was). Thurman was one of 144 women who qualified nationwide to play in the W.A.P.L. at the Sunriver golf resort in Oregon. Thirty-six holes over two days cut the field to 64 for match play. Then, two matches on Thursday and two more on Friday, just to make it to the semifinals. Saturday was a relative breather, with just the one 18-hole match to qualify for Sundays final. Then 36 holes to win the national championship.
For the two finalists ' Annie and Hwanhee Lee ' thats nine rounds of golf, under extreme pressure, in just six days. So what were those guys complaining about at Bethpage?
Thurman and Lee made a bit of history in their championship match. For the first time in the W.A.P.L.s history, the final match was scheduled for 36, not 18, holes. It was a bit anti-climatic, with Thurman cruising to a 6 and 5 victory.
Lee, another 19-year-old from Southern California, had averaged just one bogey per round during her previous matches. But the sophomore at the University of Nevada Las Vegas bogeyed five of the first 11 holes. My spirit just left my body, she said. I dont know what happened to me today.
During that same opening stretch, Thurman posted 11 consecutive pars. Annie proved that, once again, par is a very good score in a USGA Championship. Even par through 11 and five-up.
Thats all I was trying to do, Annie said. Hit the fairways, stay out of that USGA rough and make pars. The champ added, I knew that would put all the pressure on my opponent.
With apologies to the two teen-aged finalists, the true star of this championship was a pre-teen who lost to Lee in the semis. Thats right a pre-teen!
Michelle Wie, a 12-year-old from Hawaii, made it all the way to the semi-finals and this was the third time she played in the W.A.P.L. Yup, Michelle first played for this national title when she was TEN.
This lovely young lady seems to be a cant-miss star of the very near future. She stands six feet tall and could pass as a runway model. Her flowing, graceful swing is one of perfect balance and immense power. Michelle averages 290 yards off the tee. AVERAGES. During the week at Sunriver, she unleashed several drives that measured more than 320. If there is any glaring weakness that was evident at the W.A.P.L., it is Michelles putting. She often looked uncomfortable over pressure putts. But, lest we forget, shes TWELVE! I mean, how good were you at pressure putts in national competition during the summer between seventh and eighth grade?
We should get to see quite a bit more of this extremely poised young lady this summer. She and her parents plan to stay on the mainland for the next few months as Michelle plays the amateur circuit. After her eye-popping performance in Sunriver, the USGA is considering the unprecedented move of granting Wie a special exemption to play in the USGA Junior Girls. I make a point of including Girls in the title, because Michelle is certainly ready to take on all challengers from either sex.
She cried tears of disappointment after losing to Lee in the semi-final. Michelle wants desperately to win the Womens Publinx, but not as much as she wants to win the Mens. You see Michelle Wie wants to be the first woman to play in the Masters. The Mens Publinx champion gets invited to Augusta National. And why not consider the possibility? After all, Michelle already hits the ball farther than 90 percent of the men at the Masters. So look out Tiger. Remember, shes only 12.
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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.