In an Olympic year, U.S. women are getting torched

By Randall MellApril 24, 2016, 3:50 am

DALY CITY, Calif. – Gerina Piller is the great American hope Sunday at the Swinging Skirts Classic.

Five shots behind Haru Nomura, Piller faces steep odds, but she is the only U.S. player with a legitimate chance going into the final round, the only American among the top nine at Lake Merced Golf Club.

It’s been a tough start to the year for the United States in women’s golf.

In nine events this season, Lexi Thompson is the only American to win an LPGA title.

American Katie Burnett made a strong run at winning the Lotte Championship last Sunday in Hawaii, but she couldn’t hold off Australian Minjee Lee’s back-nine charge. Really, Stacy Lewis is the only other American besides Thompson to even have a chance to win this season. Lewis finished second to Hyo Joo Kim at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. Thompson, by the way, also contended at the ANA Inspiration.

What’s the big deal? Why does it matter so much?

The American struggle is significant because there has probably never been a year in women’s golf where nationalistic pride has been so front and center. That’s because an Olympic gold medal is being offered as a prize this summer for the first time in the history of the women’s game. Yes, the first time. When Margaret Abbott won first place in Paris in 1900, the first time golf was played in the Olympics, she didn’t win a gold medal. She won a porcelain bowl. It was actually the first year women were allowed to compete in any Olympic sport, but according to Olympic historian Paula Welch, Abbott didn’t even know she was competing in the Olympics. The competition was so loosely organized, the participants thought they were playing in an exhibition sideshow to the world’s fair. Women’s golf was dropped from the Olympics after that first year, with only the men going on to play golf in 1904, the last staging of golf as an Olympic sport before its return this year.


Full-field scores from the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic


So who’s going to claim the first Olympic gold medal?

It’s a huge prize for the Koreans, and they seem hell bent to make the honor their own.

The competition to make the team is of such intense interest in South Korea, it’s creating all kinds of pressure on the South Koreans trying to make the team.

“That is driving me crazy,” So Yeon Ryu confided this week.

All those South Korean fans who love women’s golf aren’t hoping one of their own takes home gold. They’re expecting them to do so.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure to win it,” Na Yeon Choi said.

Sei Young Kim was among that big wave of South Koreans who came through LPGA Q-School before last season specifically with the Olympics in mind, specifically to try to rack up the abundance of Olympic qualifying points that are more available to LPGA pros than to pros on any other women’s tour in the world.

“A gold medal would be bigger than winning a major,” Kim said.

You don’t get the sense Olympic glory is driving American women in the same crazy way it’s driving the South Koreans, Japanese and other international players.

The Americans roared to the finish line late last year. Piller led that historic American comeback victory at the Solheim Cup in September, and Americans won four of the last nine LPGA events staged last season. But there’s been no American answer to the bell signifying the calendar’s turn to an Olympic year.

This week’s release of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings came with disappointment for fans of American women’s golf.

For the first time since Olympic qualifying began in golf, there are just two American women in the top 15 of the world rankings. That means if the Olympics were staged today, Thompson and Lewis would be the only American women playing.

According to Olympic rules, a country is allowed a maximum of four qualifiers, provided all four are among the top 15 in the Rolex rankings. Only Thompson at No. 3 and Lewis at No. 4 are among the top 15 this week.

How much have Americans slipped in the Olympic quest?

When Olympic qualifying began on July 14, 2014, there were eight American women among the top 15 of the Rolex world rankings, which are used for Olympic qualifying. Lewis, Thompson, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Lizette Salas and Jessica Korda were all among the top 15 that first week.

The Americans have time to mount some momentum in the run-up to Olympic gold, with qualifying closing on July 11, but time’s getting shorter.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”