Masson's win interrupts Asian domination of LPGA

By Randall MellSeptember 6, 2016, 11:11 pm

Maybe the Americans and Europeans should meet in the Solheim Cup every year.

Those golf entities need more to cheer about.

We were reminded of that Sunday when Germany’s Caroline Masson won the Manulife Classic, becoming just the second European player to win an LPGA event this year. The Americans also have won just two stroke-play titles this year. The Europeans and Americans combined to win 13 titles just three years ago.

The shifting balance of power to Asia in women’s golf has been hardest on the Americans and Europeans.

Back in 1996 and ‘97, before South Korea’s Se Ri Pak won a pair of majors in ‘98 to set about the coming change in the world order, the Americans and Europeans swept the majors, winning four apiece.

The Americans have won just one of the last eight majors, the Euros just one of the last 31 majors.

Masson is the first European not named Suzann Pettersen or Anna Nordqvist to win an LPGA event since 2013, since Beatriz Recari won the Marathon Classic.

Masson’s first LPGA victory was timed perfectly. She’s teeing it up back in her homeland this week, at the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters. Masson and Sandra Gal will be among 12 Germans in the field.

“It’s going to be huge,” Masson said of teeing it up in Germany fresh off her first LPGA title. “I think it’s probably the promoter’s biggest dream come true, that I could win this week and come home and play.”

Next week, Europe becomes the center of the women’s golf universe, with the year’s final major, the Evian Championship, being played in France.

Masson tied for 21st in the Olympics last month and said her victory in Canada was “100 percent inspired” by her Rio experience.

“I just want to be the best athlete and golfer I can be and really try to feel this Olympic feeling and attitude every day on the golf course, in the gym, wherever,” Masson said. “I came back [from Rio], and I went to Canada, and I was jet lagged and everything, but I went to the gym every day. I was so inspired by the athletes and their passion for their sports.”

It’s been an odd year for the Americans.

Through 24 LPGA tournaments, Lexi Thompson and Brittany Lang are the only Americans to win. In the 67-year history of the tour, the Americans have never failed to win at least at four events.

Still, the Americans have made the most of their moments.

Lang won the U.S. Women’s Open, taking the most coveted prize in women’s golf and the most meaningful for any American. Also, the Americans won the UL International Crown, with Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller and Cristie Kerr combining to win the team event.

Ironically, the Americans were crowned as “the best golfing nation” for taking home the title.

“That was so cool,” Lewis said after the Americans were awarded their crowns. “Because we’re under the constant scrutiny of, `Why aren’t the Americans playing well? Why aren’t they winning?’ I don’t know how else to say it, other than it’s just really satisfying.”

The momentum didn’t carry over to Rio. The Americans and Europeans were shut out on the medal stand, with Asian-born players taking the gold (South Korea’s Inbee Park), the silver (New Zealand’s Korean-born Lydia Ko) and the bronze (China’s Shanshan Feng).

There are more big prizes left with eight events remaining on the LPGA schedule. There’s the Evian Championship next week, six events on the Asian swing and then the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico before the tour returns to the United States for the season-finale CME Group Tour Championship and the $1 million jackpot that goes to the season-long CME points winner. There’s still time for the Americans and Euros to more than salvage the year.

Getty Images

Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

Getty Images

Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.



Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.