Blackwolf Run gearing up for U.S. Women's Open

By Randall MellMay 3, 2012, 9:36 pm

It’s back to the Enchanted Forest for women’s golf.

That is what Blackwolf Run feels like as host to the U.S. Women’s Open.

With the championship just nine weeks away, the U.S. Golf Association is busy with the Kohler Co. in a bid to once more make Blackwolf Run the most bewitching and beautiful challenge in the women’s game.

Fourteen years ago, Herb Kohler introduced the sport to his beguiling design carved through the woods of Wisconsin. Blackwolf Run was as picturesque as it was wicked in its debut as host of the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998. With players sparring with golf goblins all week, Blackwolf Run delivered a fairytale ending. It delivered amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn’s 72nd-hole dramatics to force a playoff with South Korean sensation Se Ri Pak ultimately winning.

“I was afraid of the golf course,” Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez remembers from her adventure there in ‘98. “I had won a lot of golf tournaments, and it intimidated me quite a bit.”

So much so that Lopez, Meg Mallon and Jane Geddes stuck towels on the end of their golf clubs and waved them like white flags as they walked the 18th hole at the end of the second round. They were cumulatively 44 over par and all headed home with missed cuts.

“The great surrender,” Kohler remembers today.

Those white flags remain a defining image from the championship.

Mallon took a 9 on the championship’s opening hole of the opening round.

“I’ll never forget that,” Kohler said. “I admire Meg a lot, and it was sort of ghastly watching her start like that. I think it impacted the psychology of all the players.”

At one point early in the first round, Lopez said her caddie sensed her uneasiness.

“Can I get you something?” he asked her.

“Two valiums,” Lopez answered.

Pak ultimately won in a playoff despite shooting 75-76 on the weekend. She and Chuasiriporn finished at 6 over for 72 holes. You have to go back 36 years to find a higher 72-hole score by a winner in a U.S. Women’s Open. You have to go back to Winged Foot (+7) in 1974 to find a higher 72-hole score by a winner in any major.

A word of caution for the women headed to Blackwolf Run for the July 5-8 championship. The early word is it will be just as bedeviling as it was in ’98.

The course will play to 6,984 yards, more than 500 yards longer than it played in ’98.

While it won’t be the longest U.S. Women’s Open venue in history, it will feel like the longest. The Broadmoor in Colorado played to a record 7,047 yards last year, but the high altitude didn’t make it feel that long.

The USGA is cutting the women a break this time around Blackwolf Run. It will play as a par 72 instead of a par 71. The seventh hole will play as it was naturally designed, as a par 5 instead of a par 4.

That doesn’t mean the test won’t still be fierce. Kohler ordered a renovation of Blackwolf Run’s grasses in 2009 and ‘10. With new A4 bentgrass on the greens and Memorial bentgrass on the fairways, the course can play a lot firmer and faster, given Mother Nature’s cooperation.

“This will definitely be the toughest test of the women’s year, and rightfully so,” said the USGA’s Ben Kimball, director of the U.S. Women’s Open.

Kimball wasn’t there to see how Blackwolf Run played in ’98 – he was a freshman in college – but he has studied recordings of NBC-TV’s telecast.

“It looked like it played the way we expect and want for a national open championship,” Kimball said. “It was a physical and mental grind all the way to the end. I expect we will get another grind out of Blackwolf Run in 2012.”

Blackwolf Run made a powerful first impression and launched Kohler’s emergence as a force in major championship golf. Whistling Straits, already home to two PGA Championships, was officially opened on the Monday that Pak beat Chuasiriporn in a playoff. In a test of his improvisational skills, Kohler managed to shuttle major golf dignitaries to Whistling Straits in the morning and then back to see Pak win.

“It was such a dramatic impact, this whole thing, on me, on the company, on our opening at Whistling Straits,” Kohler said. “And then to have a conclusion like we had with these players, it was a fairytale that you couldn't write. You couldn't make up. It was our first major, and it was absolutely remarkable.”

Blackwolf Run’s strong first impression paved the way for more majors on Kohler’s courses.

“I didn’t see it coming back then,” said Michael Lee, superintendent of the Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits courses. “I don’t think anyone did, except maybe Mr. Kohler, and I won’t speak for him. When we hosted the Andersen Consulting Championship three years prior to the U.S. Women’s Open, I told the staff to enjoy the week, because I thought that would be the largest event we would ever host. I was wrong. Mr. Kohler had a vision I didn’t see.”

That vision plays out some more at Blackwolf Run this summer.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.

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Kaymer: Don't deserve Ryder Cup spot even with win

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:50 pm

Martin Kaymer is one of the most decorated Europeans of this generation, and one of the most thoughtfully honest as well, as he is demonstrating yet again at this week’s Nordea Masters.

Kaymer, a two-time major championship winner, has helped the Euros win three of the last four Ryder Cups. He won the singles match that clinched Europe’s historic comeback win at Medinah in 2012.

But with his run into contention Friday in Sweden, Kaymer told Sky Sports TV he didn’t believe that even a victory would make him worthy of playing for captain Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team in Paris next month.

“Do you think I deserve to be on the game after the way I've been playing, and with just one win in Sweden?” he said. “Is that enough? I don't think so.”

Kaymer shot a 3-under 67 at the Nordea Masters, leaving him tied for seventh, five shots off the lead and in position to make a run at his 12th European Tour title. He is hoping to capitalize on the opportunity in a season that has left him unsatisfied. He missed three of his previous four cuts coming to Sweden and has just two top-10 finishes this year.

Kaymer made some thoughtful observations about the nature of golf’s challenges in the same week that LPGA star Lexi Thompson opened up about a personal struggle to build a life about more than golf.

At 33, Kaymer said he feels as if he’s still just beginning to understand the game’s effect on him. Here is what he shared with reporters about that on the eve of the Nordea Masters:

“I'm on the seventh hole, hopefully. You need some time to get to know and place yourself in the world of golf.

Full-field scores from the Nordea Masters

“In the beginning you can't know, you have zero experience. Then you play around the world and measure your game with the best in the world. Then you see good results and in my case underestimate yourself a little.

“All of a sudden you win a major. You play a vital role in Ryder Cups. You win your second major. Then you need to adjust, because it's sometimes overwhelming and not understandable. It cannot only be talent, you need to ask yourself how you actually got here.

“That realization took me a long time. That's why I would say I'm on the seventh hole, maybe seventh green.

“It's just understanding who you are, what you do, what kind of life you live. For example, when you try to have a relationship with anyone -- it doesn't matter what kind of relationship -- people see you not for who you are as a person but as the athlete, what you have, what kind of success you had.

“I never understood that, because I don't want to be treated that way, but I also understood by now that is who I am, because I am that athlete. I am the guy who makes a lot of money.

“I never wanted to be seen that way, because I was raised different, and I wanted to be normal. But you are not normal when you do what I did. It took me a long time to understand, but now I can handle it better.”

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S.H. Park eyes Indy title, LPGA awards after 'best round of year'

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:20 pm

Sung Hyun Park’s hot finish Friday gives her more than a chance to win the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

It gives her a chance to keep Ariya Jutanugarn from running away with the LPGA’s most important awards and honors heading into the final third of the season.

Park’s 9-under 63 left her tied for the lead with Lizette Salas (69) at 13 under overall in the rain-suspended second round at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.

“My best round of the year,” Park said through a translator.

Jutanugarn, the Rolex world No. 1, put up a 65 and sits four behind the leaders.

Park is No. 4 in the world rankings and feeling good about her weekend chances.

“I’m going to do really well,” she said. “I feel really good about my game.”

Jutanugarn has won an LPGA best three times this season, including the U.S. Women’s Open. She is dominating, statistically. She leads the tour in money winnings ($2,161,185), Rolex Player of the Year points, scoring average (69.44), putts per greens in regulation (1.72) and birdies (327).

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Park is looking to equal Jutanugarn’s victory total for the season. Park won the Volunteers of America Texas Classic and also a major this year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Park could overtake Jutanugarn as Rolex world No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Jutanugarn does this weekend.

Park shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last season, with Jutanugarn winning the award the year before.

Notably, Jutanugarn is giving her driver a rare appearance this week, putting it in her bag in both the first and second rounds at the friendly confines of Brickyard Crossing.

“I like the way [the holes] set up, because I’m ab le to hit driver a few holes,” Jutanugarn said. “I missed some, but I hit a few pretty good ones, too.”

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Podcast: Welcome our guest - Tiger Tracker

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 17, 2018, 7:47 pm

Host Will Gray calls him “The man, the myth, the legend.”

GCTiger Tracker, aka “TT,” makes his highly anticipated first guest appearance in a Golf Channel podcast, pontificating on everything from Tiger Woods’ run at the PGA Championship at Bellerive to the overall nature of Tiger’s comeback and what breakthroughs may lie ahead.

Tiger Tracker, Golf Channel’s mystery man, continues to rigorously protect his identity as the foremost Twitter tracker of all things Tiger, but he does open up on his intense relationship with his growing legion of followers and his “trigger finger” when it comes to blocking those unworthy of his insight.

“I’m more of a lover than a hater of Tiger Woods, but I’m a tracker,” TT tells Gray. “I call it like I see it.”

Tracker goes deep on what he sees as his role in continuing to document Tiger’s comeback, including a sense of kinship in this journey.

“I had 142,000 followers on the Monday of the Bahamas [late last year], and as we speak now, 296,000, more than double in that short span,” Tracker says. “That shows you what he’s been able to do, what we’ve been able to do together. Let’s be honest about that.”

Listen in below: