Park, Kim set to renew rivalry in Women's PGA finale

By Randall MellJune 14, 2015, 12:01 am

HARRISON, N.Y. – Threepeat?

Inbee Park says she isn’t focused on trying to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship for the third consecutive year. She’s just trying to beat Sei Young Kim once.

“I have to say, my history with her is not great,” Park said after posting a 7-under-par 66 Saturday to take a two-shot lead on Kim going into the final round at Westchester Country Club.

Kim beat Park in a crazy playoff at the Lotte Championship in April. That’s the event  where Kim chipped in at the 18th hole to force a playoff and then holed out from 154 yards with an 8-iron to win on the first sudden-death hole.

Kim’s an LPGA rookie, and that was her second title this season. She turned Park into a mere bystander in her first victory, too. Park played alongside Kim in the final round of the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic in January and watched Kim go on to win it.

“She probably feels like, `I win when I play with Inbee,’ because it's twice that she has won, and I played with her both times,” Park said. “There is always a first time. I’ve never won in front of Sei Young. So, never know, hopefully tomorrow.”

Kim started Saturday with the lead and promptly birdied the first two holes. She stretched her lead from one shot on Karrie Webb to five shots in practically the blink of an eye.

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“She played unbelievably well,” said Webb (72) who is six shots back. “It was impressive to watch pretty much how flawless it was, except for a couple of shots.”

Even Webb, however, was surprised to see the long-hitting Kim bogey the last hole, a par 5, to give Park that two-shot cushion.

“I don't mind my position right now, because I feel comfortable,” said Kim, who built a reputation for comeback victories on the Korean Tour. “I have done this before. So tomorrow I will be aggressive, and I will do my best to try to win tomorrow.”

With Kim off that fast start Saturday, Park wouldn’t let her run away. Playing in the pairing in front of Kim, Park was brilliant. She made seven birdies and no bogeys on a firm, fast and tough setup. Park hit every fairway, and she hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

“It was the same approach Inbee takes in all the majors,” said her long-time caddie, Brad Beecher. “Look at the pins, know the ones you can’t touch. Then when you are able to attack, play a little more aggressively.”

There are five par 5s at Westchester, and Park attacked them, making birdies at four of them.

The Women’s PGA Championship is the rebranded name of the LPGA Championship, which Park won the last two years. Park is seeking her fifth major championship title in the last 12 majors played.

Kim was in control until late on Saturday. She had a one-shot lead with two holes to go, but Park birdied the 17th in front of her to tie for the lead and then Park birdied the 18th to move a shot ahead. Kim missed a 5-footer for par at the last to bogey to fall two shots back.

Park will be back alongside Kim in Sunday’s final-round pairing. They’ve both separated themselves from the field. Webb, Suzann Pettersen (71) and 17-year-old Brooke Henderson (71) are tied for third but six shots off the lead.

Park was asked if it’s a two-woman race.

“It just really depends how they set up the golf course,” Park said. “If they set it up really, really tough, I think it can be just me and Sei Young trying to battle each other. But if there are a lot of pin placements that we can get to, I mean, there’s been a 7-under par score every day for the last three days, so why not tomorrow?”

Park, 26, and Kim, 22, are playing so well, they could put on a Sunday show and run away from everyone else. It could turn into match play. Though Kim is the rookie, her recent record against Park seems to give Kim something of a psychological advantage.

“Sei Young is a long hitter, and this golf course really suits her, because a lot of the par 5s are reachable,” Park said. “A couple of the par 5s that I can't get too, she can get to. It's a matter of keeping up with her on the par 5s and I think I will be pretty safe.”

Kim has those two titles this year, but her record isn’t without a blemish. She took a three-shot lead into the final round of the ANA Inspiration and squandered it. Still, she proved at Pure Silk and Lotte she knows how to close. She won won five times playing the Korean LPGA Tour and led that tour in driving distance the last two years. Her caddie, Paul Fusco, knows Westchester Country as well as anybody in this field. He used to be Vijay Singh’s caddie and was on Singh’s bag for two of Singh’s four victories at Westchester Country Club.

“Paul’s helped me incredibly,” Kim said. “When I was told Paul won here twice with Vijay ... I felt I was going to play well here. Hopefully tomorrow, all of his energy transfers to make sure that I will do my best to win tomorrow.

Park will be doing her best to end Kim’s reign over her.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.