American women try to end major drought at Open

By Randall MellJune 26, 2013, 8:23 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Jay Gatsby tried to start over here, too.

In a quest to win back the love of his life, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fictional character lavishly rebuilt his life in the novel 'The Great Gatsby' somewhere neighboring the Hamptons.

While it didn’t work out so well for Gatsby, who tragically couldn’t win back Daisy Buchanon, American women have their own designs on writing a happier ending here in the golf rich east end of Long Island. They’re on a quest to win back their first love, too.

For an American woman, there is no greater prize than winning the U.S. Women’s Open.

But major championships are prizes that are becoming harder and harder for Americans to win.


U.S. Women’s Open: Articles, videos and photos


In fact, the U.S. Women’s Open is becoming a symbol of the American struggle in women’s golf.

Nine major championships have passed since an American has won. That’s the longest drought in the history of women’s golf. Stacy Lewis was the last American to win a major, claiming the Kraft Nabisco Championship early in 2011. If the Americans are going to end that winless spell at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club, they’re likely going to have to go through the most dominant force in all of golf. They’re likely going to have to go through the talent-rich South Koreans.

South Koreans have practically gained squatter’s rights over the U.S. Women’s Open. They couldn’t be more comfortable in this championship if it were played in Seoul. They’ve won four of the last five. Paula Creamer’s the only American to win a U.S. Women’s Open in that run, taking the title at Oakmont three years ago.

For those who think too much is made of nationalistic loyalties in women’s golf, then why even call it the U.S. Women’s Open. Why not rename it the World Open? And why should the LPGA fly the national flags of all its participating players over scoreboards at LPGA events? Why take golf to the Olympics?

“Winning a U.S. Open, God, especially pretty close to home for me, it would mean anything, everything, just the world,” said Cristie Kerr, who has a residence in New York City. “Words can’t describe. If I have a chance on Sunday, I’m going to have to kind of win that battle within myself, not get ahead, and not get too emotional.”

Kerr knows what it means to win a U.S. Women’s Open. She won it in ’07 at Pine Needles. She knows how hard it has become to win it, too. Twice, she has finished third since last winning.

“Growing up, that was the championship everybody wanted to win,” said Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, a two-time U.S. Women’s Open winner. “You go anywhere in the world, and if you say you won the U.S. Women’s Open, everybody respects that, and gets that.

“If I never won a U.S. Women’s Open, I would feel like my career is just not where I would want it to be.”

To be clear, Inkster never drew this parallel, and never meant to, but you could argue the same thing applies to the big picture in American women’s golf. If American women aren’t winning the U.S. Women’s Open, the state of the American game is wanting.

Of course, the women’s game is changing. Americans won 20 of the first 21 U.S. Women’s Opens, 35 of the first 37.

The game is more global today, but that makes it even more patriotic in its largest events.

South Koreans are proud of their success, and they ought to be. They aren’t just dominating the U.S. Women’s Open. They’re dominating majors. South Koreans won four consecutive major championships, five of the last six. Asians have won nine in a row.

South Korea’s Inbee Park is vying this week to become the first woman since Babe Zaharias to win the first three majors of the season.

“It’s in our blood, I guess,” Park joked.

If the Americans can break back through this week, Kerr sees it as a possible boost to the reconstruction of the women’s game in the United States. She believes American girls need to see more events in the United States. Fourteen of the tour’s 28 events are staged in the United States. She sees American success leading to more American title sponsors.

“We need to build golf in America back up for women again,” Kerr said. “If we could get four, five or six more tournaments in the United States, that would make us really well rounded. It would also help to build USGA Girls’ Golf and LPGA Girls’ Golf in the United States.”

Winning the American woman’s first love in golf would help the reconstruction.

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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

"I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

"Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."