Free spirit Yin helps keep U.S. Solheim team loose

By Randall MellAugust 15, 2017, 8:27 pm

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster loved the playful bravado.

Long before Angel Yin played her way onto the media’s radar as a Solheim Cup hopeful this summer, she was on Inkster’s radar.

The LPGA rookie wouldn’t let Inkster walk past her at a tour event without letting her know she was ready to play for her.

Every time she passed me, she would say, `I’m going to make your team.’ I loved that about her,” said Inkster, who made Yin one of her two captain’s picks. “She’s confident, but not cocky.”

Tour insiders have been waiting for this giant talent to make a mark as a pro on a big stage, and Des Moines Golf and Country Club looks like that stage.

Yin is a long-hitting Californian, the first-generation American daughter of Chinese immigrants, a raw but determined talent with fun-loving charm that is as big as her swing.

Yin is the only true LPGA rookie on the American team preparing to meet Europe in Iowa this week, the second-youngest American to play in the biennial international team event. She will be 18 years, 10 months and 15 days old when the competition begins on Friday. That’s four months older than Lexi Thompson was when she made her Solheim Cup debut four years ago.

“My team just loves her, loves her,” Inkster said.

They love the bold way Yin plays the game.

“She’s fearless,” American veteran Stacy Lewis said. “She has the length of Ariya Jutanugarn but hits it higher and straighter.”

There is something else they love, too. They love the quirky, carefree spirit Yin brings to the team room. She’s quickly fitting in as America’s version of Charley Hull, the teen who charmed and entertained the Euros with her artless ways as a rookie in Colorado four years ago. 


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Beth Allen isn’t on the American team, but she saw Yin’s charms before Yin joined the LPGA this year. They played the Ladies European Tour last year.

“I’m from California, and I could tell right away Angel was a California girl,” said Allen, the first American to win the LET’s Order of Merit. “It’s the way she talks, and that Californian free spirit. She marches to the beat of her own drum. She’s just a lot of fun.”

You can see it Yin’s social media posts, even in her Twitter handle. She’s @angelyinlol.

“The name Angel Yin was taken, and some friends who said I really needed to be on social media liked the idea of adding LOL on the end of my name,” Yin told GolfChannel.com “It grew on me.”

For those oblivious to all things social media, LOL is short for “laugh out loud.”

From Yin’s mischievous grin on her profile picture, to her pink-eared ski cap, you quickly see the LOL in Yin’s social media persona.

She posted a GIF of the Riverdale TV show character Jughead, ranting on how he’s different.

“I’m a weirdo. I don’t fit in. I don’t want to fit in,” Jughead rants.

“Exactly!” Yin commented in her retweet.

Yin once regaled her followers with how she suffered a bout of dehydration because she slept for 17 straight hours. And how she once got her hair caught in an elevator door.

On her 18th birthday last fall, Yin posted comically that it was something to mourn, because she was officially designated an adult, with the wonder of childhood behind her.

“Probably one of the saddest days of my life,” she wrote on Instagram. “No longer a kid anymore. From here on out, it’s just responsibility to discipline to being mature. Can’t believe this day came so fast, but on the bright side, I’m legal now and I can party almost everywhere in Europe.”

Germany’s Olivia Cowan and Iceland’s Olafia Kristinsdottir met Yin as fellow LET rookies last year.

“We call ourselves The Three Musketeers,” Cowan said. “We are besties, always together.”

With Yin entertaining the trio with her unique take on things.

“When Angel gets going, she doesn’t stop talking,” Cowan said. “She is very lively, the most fun person I know. We can talk about the stupidest things, and we can talk about it for hours.”

The funny thing about Yin is that she considers herself shy. At least, she can be in new environments. Making her start on the LPGA this year, she was cautious, socially.

“I’m just a rookie, and there are a lot of big shots on tour I’m afraid to talk to,” Yin said. “People might see me with friends and think, `She’s not shy at all,’ but in reality I’m a really shy person. It’s hard for me to come out of my shell sometimes, but once the wall’s knocked down . . .”

It’s @angelyinlol.

“I really don’t think she’s afraid of anything,” Kristinsdottir said.

Yin nearly made the American team via the U.S. Solheim Cup world rankings list. She tied for eighth at the Marathon Classic and tied for 11th at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in her last two starts. With two more birdies coming home at Kingsbarns, Yin wouldn’t have required a captain’s pick. She would have qualified with the effort.

It didn’t take LET pros long last year to see what LPGA pros are seeing this year.

Yin was second on the LET in driving distance last year, trailing only Joanna Klatten, who also led the LPGA in driving. She finished 11th on the LET Order of Merit.

Yin is seventh in the LPGA ranks in driving this season, averaging 272 yards per drive.

“The way she compresses the ball, it’s not like anyone else,” Allen said.

Yin joined the LET as a 17-year-old. She didn’t think it was right to petition the LPGA for a waiver of its rule requiring members be 18 years old, and while USC was offering her a scholarship, she believed she was ready to turn pro.

Yin’s swing coach, Bob Lasken, knew the LET and what it offered. His sister, now Kim McNary, played the LET before joining the LPGA. He offered it up as an option, and Angel’s mother was intrigued.

Michelle Yin has never played a hole of golf in her life, but she learned the game watching her daughter, listening to her coaches, watching every LPGA and PGA Tour event she could find on TV. She also read through Tiger Woods’ instructional book, “How I Play Golf.

When Angel joined the LET, Michelle picked up her bag as caddie.

“We couldn’t afford to pay a caddie,” Michelle said.

Michelle got Angel into the game almost by accident back in Arcadia, Calif.

When Angel was 6, one of Michelle’s friends approached them. The friend had a son who wanted to learn to play golf. The friend asked if Michelle would sign up Angel to join her boy in a month-long junior program at Arcadia Par 3 Golf Course. Angel didn’t have any clubs, but she borrowed a used club from the pro shop.

“My friend’s son didn’t like playing, and he quit,” Michelle said. “Angel didn’t want to quit. She loved it, and she wanted me to buy her some golf clubs.

“She told me, `Mom, don’t worry, you don’t have to come watch over me. You can just drop me off and pick me up. It will be OK.’”

So that’s what Michelle did.

But it wasn’t long until the coaches at Arcadia Par 3 were calling Michelle to tell her Angel was a promising talent, and she needed private lessons. It wasn’t long after that before a coach was calling to say Angel really ought to be competing in tournaments.

“The coach directed me to a web site, and I registered Angel for a tournament,” Michelle said. “Two years after Angel started in the game, she won the Callaway Junior Worlds in San Diego.”

Angel was 8 when she made that breakthrough.

That’s when Michelle said she started getting more involved in her daughter’s game.

“From the beginning, I just followed Angel’s lead, but she picked up everything so fast,” Michelle said. “I decided I needed to get serious and learn everything I could to support her.”

Michelle was a business woman in the import/export business back in China. She moved to the United States from her Beijing home 20 years ago. Angel was born a year later. Michelle became a U.S. citizen about 10 years ago, but Angel’s father remains in China.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without my mother,” Angel said.

Yin has been a big deal in Southern California for a while now. At 13, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run. At 14, she won a junior qualifier to get into the ANA Inspiration and made the cut. At 15, she Monday qualified to get into the LPGA’s Kia Classic, At 16, she won the AJGA’s Annika Invitational, finished runner up in the U.S. Girls’ Junior and played on the U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team.

Lasken first heard about Yin when she was 10.

That’s when Lasken’s sister, Kim, the LPGA pro, teed it up in a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier at Industry Hills. She was paired with Yin.

“Kim called me after saying, `Oh my God, this 10-year-old girl was outdriving me by 30 yards,’” Lasken said. “Angel was a legend at 10.”

Yin’s first private instructor was Greg Castleman, with Lasken taking over about six years ago.

“Angel has that attitude of a champion,” said Lasken, who teaches out of Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo. “You always hear Angel saying `I can do this.’ You never hear her saying, `I can’t.’

“The bigger the stakes, the better she plays. It’s like she has this attitude, `Bring it on.’”

It’s why Inkster believed Yin was ready for this week’s big stage.

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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."