Lewis, Pettersen, Park have become LPGA's 'Big Three'

By Randall MellOctober 25, 2013, 1:50 pm

For so long, womens golf was defined by a single, dominant player.

Really, for almost a dozen years after the turn of this century, you could name one overwhelming force in the womens game, the one player who reigned superior over everyone else.

From Annika Sorenstam to Karrie Webb to Lorena Ochoa and then to Yani Tseng, there were long runs where nobody could touch these players.

They defined eras.

Yes, Sorenstam and Webb were equals for a part of their runs, the last real rivals in the womens game. There was a time near the turn of this century where they were the Big Two in womens golf. They didnt just separate themselves from the rest of the game. They pushed each other to new heights.

We just might be getting back to that dynamic in the womens game.

With Suzann Pettersen making a run this week at winning the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, womens golf is watching three players of this era separate themselves from everyone else. Were watching them push each other to new heights as a trio.

Call them the Big Three.

Inbee Park, Pettersen and Stacy Lewis have dominated this LPGA season, and theyre currently ranked Nos. 1-2-3 in the world, respectively.

Park, of course, is enjoying one of the greatest years in LPGA history, a season in which she won the first three majors, a feat equaled only by Babe Zaharias way back in 1950.

Overall, Park has won six LPGA titles this season.

Normally, that ought to seal a players spot as the Rolex world No. 1, as Player of the Year and the leading money winner.

In fact, Park might sweep all those honors, but its not a lock quite yet with four events left this season.

If Pettersen wins this week, the Big Three will have combined to win more than half of all the LPGA events played this year. They will have won 13 of the 25 played so far.

Parks won those six, Pettersen will have won four and Lewis three.

Theyve also combined to win all the majors, with Park taking the Kraft Nabisco, Wegmans LPGA Championship and U.S. Womens Open, Pettersen taking the Evian Championship and Lewis the Ricoh Womens British Open.

Notably, they seem to be answering each other.

Early in the year, Lewis won the HSBC Womens Champions and RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in back-to-back starts to take the Rolex No. 1 ranking from Tseng.

Park responded with her run of three majors, securing the No. 1 ranking along the way.

A defining moment among the trio seemed to arrive at the U.S. Womens Open at the end of June. Park, Pettersen and Lewis were all paired together in the first two rounds at Sebonack Golf Club. Park, though, didnt just go on to win the championship. She blew away her nearest rivals. In their first two rounds playing together, Park beat Pettersen by a cumulative 19 shots and Lewis by 12.

That appeared to rile up Pettersen and Lewis, because they had spirited answers in the second half.

Lewis went on to win the next major, the Ricoh Womens British Open.

Pettersen went on to win the last major, the Evian Championship. Pettersen is still on fire. Since getting thrashed by Park at the U.S. Womens Open, here are Pettersens finishes: T-6, T-4, T-7, Win, Win, T-3, T-3.

Since Sebonack, here are Lewis finishes: T-6, T-7, Win, 2nd, T-6, 2nd, T-6.

Park has one top-10 finish since Sebonack.

After the U.S. Women's Open, Park topped the Rolex Womens World Rankings with 13.27 average points. Pettersen was No. 3 with 7.92. Now, Pettersen is within less than a point. If she wins this week, Pettersen will pull to within .66 points of overtaking Park. Its possible Park could end this remarkable year without the No. 1 ranking.

Clearly, that thrashing at Sebonack motivated Pettersen. She learned there that she had to become a better putter to stay with Park, the games best putter.

That was almost a wake-up call for me, Pettersen said after winning at Evian. I had to see where the hurdle was. I had to look at my game. It was a question of being honest. I couldnt lie. For me, it was definitely the putting. Its been a part Ive been trying to improve, and its nice when it pays off that quickly.

David Leadbetter, Pettersens swing coach, saw how Park changed Pettersens approach to practice.

Suzann has changed her practice regimen to where shes spending a lot more time on her putting, Leadbetter said. She never really had a regimen for her putting. It was always a sort of secondary thing.

Just last month, Lewis and Park both talked about the effect theyve had on each other this year.

Since last year, Ive always watched Stacys score after I finish my round, Park said. She has been somebody that I have always thought had the game to be No. 1. She is a good ball striker. I really try to learn from her, what she is doing good. I think she is such a nice person outside the golf course, too. I think having somebody like that definitely helps your game to improve.

Lewis said: I watched Yani a lot when she was in her run. We seemed to play a lot together, so I learned a lot playing with Yani and what she was doing. Now, youre kind of doing the same with Inbee. Were making each other better. Were pushing each other to work harder. I think its great for both of us ... I do watch her scores. I watch what shes doing. I watch how shes preparing. I think you can learn a lot by watching people when they are playing their best.

Pettersen is playing in Taiwan this week with Park and Lewis both taking the week off. Lewis is scheduled to play the Mizuno Classic in Japan next week with Pettersen and Park both off. All three are expected to tee it up in the final two events of the year, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and CME Group Titleholders. The Big Three seem poised to make the last month of the season compelling.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”