On the edge of history

By Randall MellJune 26, 2011, 1:00 am

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It’s a giant task.

So large that if Cindy LaCrosse pulls the improbable upset Sunday at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, women’s golf will have its version of Jack Fleck.

The game will have its most stunning upset since Fleck marched out of the cornfields of Iowa to defeat Ben Hogan at the ’55 U.S. Open.

LaCrosse, 24, stepped out of golf’s shadows and into its brightest spotlight with her play Saturday at Locust Hill Country Club.

She played her way into a final pairing of a major championship and now faces the challenge of trying to come from five shots back to knock off the No. 1 player in the Rolex world rankings.

At No. 168 in the world, LaCrosse faces the daunting challenge of trying to stop Yani Tseng from making history. Tseng is on her game and aiming to do something Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Babe Zaharias, Patty Berg and Mickey Wright never did. She’s aiming to do something no champion’s ever done. She’s bidding to win her fourth major championship by the age of 22.

Moments before the Sunday tee times were set, LaCrosse was asked what it would be like to play with Tseng?

“It would be pretty cool,” LaCrosse said. “I am going to focus on what I need to do and see what happens. I had a really good time today.”

LaCrosse had a good time making a strong Saturday move while paired with Paula Creamer for the first time. She said the galleries were by far the largest she’s ever played in front of, and yet LaCrosse was unbowed. She rode a hot putter to a 3-under-par 69 and into a tie for second with Morgan Pressel. LaCrosse outplayed Creamer, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champ, by three shots.

“It was nice having people clap for you when you walked up to every green,” LaCrosse said. “Then I realized it was more for Paula than for me.”

Five of the top eight players on the leaderboard have won majors. LaCrosse? Before this week, she had only played in one major.

Nobody expected LaCrosse to play her way into this position so quickly, even with her credentials as last year's Futures Tour Player of the Year. Even LaCrosse didn’t expect this.

“I would like to say, `No, it doesn’t surprise me,’ but I don’t know,” said LaCrosse, a University of Louisville graduate from Tampa, Fla. “It’s kind of cool I’m in contention.”

Technically, LaCrosse isn’t a rookie, but she’s playing in just her 13th LPGA event and in her first full season on tour. She’s never recorded a top-10 finish in an LPGA event. Her tie for 11th at the ShopRite Classic three weeks ago is her best LPGA finish.

“I like the confidence she’s playing with,” said Mike Berger, LaCrosse’s caddie. “She just doesn’t get rattled.”

LaCrosse said she doesn’t try to look too far ahead in life.

“I guess kind of every step I’ve taken in golf, I had no expectations going into it,” LaCrosse said. “In college, I was a walk-on, then started playing really well. Same thing going out to the Futures Tour. I didn’t know what to expect. That was kind of my advantage, that I didn’t have anything to lose.”

LaCrosse has some good New York mojo going for her. Two of her three Futures Tour titles last year came in the state of New York. She caddied for her father, Doug, when he played in the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester three years ago.

“I definitely like New York,” LaCrosse said. “I don’t know what it is.”

There’s some good help in LaCrosse’s corner. Her father was a three-time Florida State Amateur champ who turned pro at 50 and played some on the Champions Tour. Her coach is Sean Foley, the same swing coach who works with Tiger Woods. Cindy said her father is friends with NBC TV analyst Gary Koch, who helped steer LaCrosse to Foley at the start of this year.

“My dad and I talk after every round,” LaCrosse said.

What was his advice for the weekend?

“Just keep doing what you’re doing,” papa LaCrosse told his daughter. “Remember where you came from and how you got here.”

That advice has LaCrosse on the edge of history.

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Casey: RC teams planning Lyle, Celia tributes

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2018, 3:58 pm

ATLANTA – Throughout this season Paul Casey has been in regular contact with European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, with most communication being via text messages that the Englishman said always included an eclectic range of emojis.

But when the Dane decided to make Casey one of his four captain’s picks, it had to be a phone call.

“He called on Monday (Sept. 3). I was in the parking garage at the Philadelphia Marriott,” Casey said this week at the Tour Championship. “It was rewarding, emotional, so many things.”

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Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

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Since being named to the team, Casey said his communication with Bjorn and the other members of the European team has been via WhatsApp, which allows the team to share ideas and finalize plans for next week’s matches. Casey said the exchanges have mainly featured good-natured teasing and a some silly pictures, with a few serious moments.

The European team, in coordination with the U.S. team, is planning to honor Jarrod Lyle, a former PGA Tour player who died last month following his third bout with leukemia, next Thursday in France. There is a public memorial service planned for Lyle on Thursday in Australia.

Casey also said the team is coordinating a plan to also honor Celia Barquín Arozamena, a top college player from Spain who was murdered this week in Iowa.

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Another 59: Nesbitt makes PGA Tour Latinoamerica history

By Nick MentaSeptember 22, 2018, 3:17 pm

For the second time in as many days, the golf world witnessed a professional sub-60.

Drew Nesbitt fired a 12-under 59 on Saturday in the second round of PGA Tour Latinoamerica's Brazil Open.

Nesbitt's round included a bogey, eight pars, five birdies, and four eagles - three of which came on one nine and one of which was an ace at the par-3 second, his 11th hole of the day.

The Canadian closed with three straight birdies, including this one at the ninth, to record the first 59 in the tour's history.

Perhaps more impressive than breaking 60 was that Nesbitt found a way overnight to shave 20 strokes off his first-round 79.

"I knew I had to shoot a low round if I was going to make the cut," he said. "The first hole of the day, I happened to knock it in from 100 yards and get my day started pretty quickly. ...

"My goal, obviously, was just to make the cut. To do it shooting 59 was absolutely incredible. You can't really ask for anything more than that."

With rounds of 79-59 for a 4-under-138 total, Nesbitt sits in a tie for 32nd through two rounds, 10 off the lead held by 2015 champ Alexandre Rocha.

"This is a golfer's dream, to shoot a sub-60 round and to do it in a tourmament and to do on this tour especially makes it that much more special," he said.

On Friday, Oliver Fisher became the first player in history to break 60 on the European Tour with a 12-under 59 at the Portugal Masters.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 22, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods is in the final group on Saturday at the Tour Championship. He's out at 2:30 p.m. ET with Justin Rose and we're tracking him.

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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.