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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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.

Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.