Battle for No 1

By Randall MellJuly 25, 2010, 11:56 pm

LPGA Tour _newThe fight for No. 1 is head-spinning stuff in women’s golf.

You wouldn’t know it, though, in Jiyai Shin’s unwavering and resolute march back to the game’s mountaintop just six weeks after she underwent emergency surgery for an appendicitis.

With no missteps in her thrilling victory Sunday at the Evian Masters, Shin assured that she will move back to No. 1 when the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are released Monday.

It will mark the fifth change at the top of the women’s rankings in the last 14 weeks.

That’s more lead changes than we’ve seen in the last decade in the men’s Official World Golf Ranking.

This is good theater for women’s golf, especially the dramatic way it’s playing out.

This isn’t like the men’s game, where it seems as if nobody wants to take the No. 1 ranking from Tiger Woods when Woods is offering it up on a platter.

The women are making hard, feisty charges up the game’s mountaintop.

Though Lorena Ochoa retired from women’s golf this past spring, she didn’t hand over the top ranking. Shin took it from her. Shin seized the top spot with her performance in Ochoa’s farewell tournament at the Tres Marias Championship early in May.

Ai Miyazato has taken two turns atop the women’s rankings this summer with her four victories this season. Cristie Kerr bumped Miyazato off the top with Kerr’s record 12-shot victory at the LPGA Championship.

It’s a wonderful summer show the women are giving us, one that makes you want to see more. They’re putting on the kind of show that begs for more than the 24 events we’re going to get to see this year, the kind of show that will make us miss the women when they take their next long furlough.

Though Paula Creamer didn’t move to No. 1 with her virtuoso performance winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont two weeks ago, she looked like she’s intent on getting there.

The Evian Masters finish was edge-of-your seat theater.

With Shin walking to the 18th tee Sunday at Evian Masters Golf Club, 15-year-old Alexis Thompson was up ahead trying to make history. In a spirited finish, Thompson hit a wedge to 12 feet, then coolly drained the birdie putt to get to 13 under.

Thompson’s birdie created a four-way tie for the lead.

Shin and Morgan Pressel were in that logjam. So was Na Yeon Choi, who charged magnificently with birdies at four of the last five holes.

“I was watching the leaderboard all day, I was so nervous,” Shin told in a telephone conversation after. “My hands were shaking at the end.”

Shin didn’t betray any nervousness. She looked totally unaffected, burying a testy 6-foot putt for par at the 17th hole and then striping her final drive down the middle after Pressel nearly pulled her drive into the trees.

After Shin made her final birdie putt from 8 ½ feet, the drama only built. Pressel had a birdie chance to tie from 8 feet. She clipped the left side of the hole, leaving Shin the winner.

With a 5-under-par 67, Shin posted the only bogey-free round among the final five twosomes off in the final round.

Shin is just 22 years old, but she’s already won 32 times around the world as a professional.

Despite all the quality challenges from various players this summer, Shin looked more than worthy of that top ranking with her finish Sunday. If she hadn’t been raced to the hospital on the eve of the State Farm Classic six weeks ago, there’s no telling if she would have ever let go of that No. 1 ranking she took from Ochoa.

With Shin still recovering and out of action following her surgery on June 9, Miyazato won the Shoprite LPGA Classic on June 20, ending Shin’s seven week run at the top of the rankings.

“I think the time off after the surgery helped me,” Shin said by telephone. “After that, I enjoyed coming back. I felt happy playing.”

Just 10 days after her surgery, Shin was back hitting balls. Fourteen days later, she was teeing it up in the LPGA Championship. Her caddie, Dean Herden, said she couldn’t finish her swing without pain starting the first round of that major, but she ended up tying for third in her return.

“I knew we had a lot of big tournaments coming up,” Shin said. “I told myself, I have to recover quickly. It really made me focus.”

Shin heads to the Women’s British Open this coming week, the site of her first LPGA title and the most important triumph of her career.

“I go with a lot of confidence,” she said.

So do so many challengers eager to knock her off the mountaintop. It’s what is making the LPGA worth watching this summer.

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Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.

Full-field scores from the SAS Championship

''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

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Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.

Full-field scores from the British Masters

A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

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Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.

Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos

The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."