Olympics drive Webb as HOF career winds down

By Randall MellFebruary 17, 2016, 3:24 pm

Karrie Webb’s quest to make the Olympics intensifies this week with her 2016 LPGA debut at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

Is this push to Rio de Janeiro the beginning of the end to the Hall of Famer’s career?

Even Webb isn’t sure.

“I said I was going to retire when I was 35, and I’m 41 now, so still going,” Webb said Wednesday in a pretournament news conference at The Grange Golf Club outside Adelaide in South Australia. “I think when you’re 18, 30 seems like it’s a long way away, but from experience it comes around pretty quickly. I don’t know what the future holds for me as far as full time playing. I’m concentrating this year on a full schedule and hopefully making the Olympic team and then just re-assessing where things are at the end of the year.”

Whether Webb retires at year’s end, or finds that chasing Olympic gold has fueled ambition to keep on winning trophies, or just decides to scale back her appearances, her journey is worth paying extra attention to this season. The Olympics has kept a fire burning inside her, a fire that has been something special to behold over her two decades as a pro.

There is longevity to Webb’s excellence worth marveling over.

Updated men's and women's Olympic standings

The intensity required to have stayed among the LPGA’s elite for so long, with the women’s game getting so much younger than the men’s game, is what’s worth marveling over. The average age of the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings is 23.5. The average age of the top 10 men in the Official World Golf Ranking is 29.7.

Annika Sorenstam pushed so hard for so long before retiring at 37. Lorena Ochoa retired at 28.

Webb will tee it up with 18-year-old Brooke Henderson for the first two rounds in Australia this week. Webb said age isn’t something she thinks about when she’s competing.

“I think the only time that I ever have to think about it is when I’m sitting here and you guys ask me those questions,” Webb said in her news conference. “I’ve always said the golf ball doesn’t know how old you are; it’s just about getting it in the hole. As long as I feel fit and healthy to play, I feel like I’m competitive every week.”

If this is Webb’s last hurrah, even if it’s just the last year we see this same kind of ambition driving her, it would be a shame to let it pass without special appreciation for what we’re seeing.

Webb is seeking her sixth Women’s Australian Open title this week. They’re among the more than 50 professional victories she has won around the world, 41 of those LPGA titles, and seven of those major championships. Only legends of the game have won more, only Patty Berg (15), Mickey Wright (13), Louise Suggs (11), Annika Sorenstam (10), Babe Zaharias (10) and Betsy Rawls (8).

“It’s amazing what Karrie is doing,” Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko said. “I said I’d retire at 30. I’m always learning when I get to play alongside her.”

Webb was No. 9 in the world to begin last year. She opens this year No. 34. She was winless a year ago and watched 19-year-old Minjee Lee pass her as the highest ranked Australian woman last year, but that Olympic dream is keeping Webb’s interest at a high level.

“Since golf was announced in the 2016 Olympics, it’s definitely been a focus of mine,” Webb said. “I think it’s what has kept me out here playing full time. It’s important for me to make the team, but, obviously, if something were to happen and I didn’t, it’s not going to tarnish what I’ve already achieved.”

To make the Australian Olympic team, Webb pretty much just has to rank among the top two Australians on July 11, the deadline for Olympic qualifying. The next highest ranked Australian behind Lee and Webb today is Rebecca Artis at No. 129.

“That would be icing on a very nice cake, but firstly I have to make the team,” Webb said. “I love that everyone is penciling or penning it in. Hopefully, just the feeling of the Olympics and being there will inspire me to play well. A medal would be unbelievable.”

Whether a medal would motivate Webb to walk away from the game or would inspire her to keep chasing excellence is part of the intrigue in her march to Rio.

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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.”