St. Andrews perfect spot for major history

By Randall MellJuly 30, 2013, 1:00 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Her story is almost too enchanting to be true.

If there is an author to the scripting of Inbee Park’s career, the master storyteller couldn’t have led her to a more dramatic stage than St. Andrews in her historic march this week.

“I feel like the whole world is watching me,” Park said.

Is it really coincidence Park will be trying to become the first man or woman to win four professional major championships in a single season at the Old Course, where more history has been made than any other golf venue in the world? Of all the places this magical story could go, how does the page turn here, to the revered home of golf, in just the second time the women have been allowed to play a major championship here?

Ricoh Womens British Open: Articles, videos and photos

Hall of Famer Pat Bradley is a believer in golf’s cosmic architecture.

“For Inbee Park to be going to the home of golf to do this, it feels like destiny to me,” said Bradley, who made her own Grand Slam bid in 1986, when she won three of the four major championships in women’s golf. “It is such a storybook venue. For St. Andrews to be in the rotation for this, with all the history there, it really seems destined.”

Bradley is not alone believing fate is a force every bit as real over the Old Course as the winds that blow off the North Sea.

Lorena Ochoa believes, too. She felt it at St. Andrews.

When Ochoa won the first women’s major ever staged at the Old Course in 2007, she felt an overwhelming sense that she was being led to the moment. She felt this before she even teed it up that week. She felt it when she arrived Sunday before the championship began.

Fresh off the plane after the Evian Masters, Ochoa made it to the Old Course with the sun about to set. It was too late to play, but she walked around the 18th hole with her brother, Alejandro. They lingered, just soaking up the sense of history in the stillness of dusk.

Ochoa stood there imagining the finish she wanted.

“There was just this feeling,” Ochoa said. “I pictured myself there on the 18th green, lifting the trophy. It was like it was meant to be, almost like I knew it was going to happen.”

To fully appreciate the power of that moment, you have to understand the pressure Ochoa was under, the doubts up against her in majors. At that point, at 25, she had already won a dozen LPGA titles and overtaken Annika Sorenstam as the Rolex world No. 1, but Ochoa still had yet to win a major. In fact, she had squandered chances to win a few of them, raising questions about her ability to handle major championship pressure. Just a month earlier, she had a chance to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles but couldn’t hit a green in regulation over the final five holes. She tied for second behind Cristie Kerr. She also squandered a chance at the Kraft Nabisco that spring. The co-leader halfway through, she shot 77 on Saturday with a quadruple bogey at the 17th hole.

Ochoa, though, showed all her brilliant promise at St. Andrews, breaking through in dominating fashion in a four-shot rout. She emphatically established herself as the best player in the game.

“After winning at St. Andrews, you realize things happen for a reason,” Ochoa said. “I had chances and had come so close at the U.S. Open and Kraft Nabisco before going to St. Andrews, but looking back, it helps you understand how golf works, how life works. There was something special waiting to happen for me. It happened at St. Andrews.”

Park arrives at St. Andrews with destiny oddly intertwined with her name.

Yes, she’s South Korean, but the name Park is revered in Scottish golf. Willie Park Sr. won the very first British Open ever played back at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860, beating the favored Old Tom Morris by two shots. Park won four British Opens overall. His brother, Mungo, won the Open in 1874. Willie’s son, Willie Park Jr., won two Open titles.

Inbee arrives with more than Scotland watching. She’s the first woman to win the first three major championships of the year since Babe Zaharias in 1950. While amateur Bobby Jones won the four majors of his era in 1930, Park is looking to become the first man or woman to win four professional majors in a single season.

The fact that she’s trying to do it on the most historic venue in golf heightens the drama.

Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam played St. Andrews when it first hosted the Women’s British Open six years ago. She appreciated being among the first women to play the course in a major.

“It’s like holy ground,” Sorenstam said.

The first time Park qualified for the Women’s British Open, it was at St. Andrews. She had just turned 19 when she tied for 11th there. She fell in love with the course and is eager to return.

“I can’t wait,” Park said. “Everything about the golf course is very special.”

Bobby Jones won the second of his three British Open titles at St. Andrews in 1927. Sam Snead won the British Open there in ’46, Seve Ballesteros in ’84 and Nick Faldo in ’90. Jack Nicklaus won two Opens there in ’70 and ’78. Tiger Woods also won two there in 2000 and ’05.

From Old Tom Morris to Young Tom Morris, from Jones to Nicklaus to Woods, nearly all the game’s greats have at least walked St. Andrews’ fairways, if not won there.

Back when Bradley was fashioning her Hall of Fame career, the LPGA never got to play at St. Andrews. She so yearned to play there, though, she drove to the Old Course on the Monday after the ’92 Solheim Cup was played at Dalmahoy Country Club in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was the first and only time she ever played there, and she relished it.

“It was a beautiful day, and as I was playing, I was thinking of all the footsteps I might have touched from over the years,” Bradley said. “I’m playing, and I’m thinking, ‘Am I touching the footsteps of Old Tom Morris and Bobby Jones?’ It was wonderful.

“I’m rooting for Inbee Park so much. I really believe that St. Andrews is where the Grand Slam is to be won.”

It would be a storybook finish for golf’s most storied venue.

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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner

On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell

On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

"I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

"Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."