Which American is best suited to be No 1

By Randall MellApril 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. ' Fifteen years have passed since an American has towered atop womens golf.
 
Its been that long since Beth Daniel won LPGA Player of the Year honors.
 
No American has laid claim to the honors since.
 
Whos best positioned to end the drought?
 
Michelle Wie at the SBS Open
Michelle Wie is hoping to one day become the No. 1-ranked woman in the world. (Getty Images)
Three years ago, with Michelle Wie lining up a putt to get into a playoff with Karrie Webb and Lorena Ochoa at the 72nd hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wie looked as if eventually she would be best suited for the part despite the fact that she was just 16 years old.
 
After two trying seasons battling wrist injuries and the damage it did to her swing, Wie tees it up Thursday in the LPGAs first major championship of the year no longer the favorite to ascend to the top of the American ranks.
 
She goes off in the Kraft Nabisco looking to regain the positive momentum lost in two miserable seasons.
 
As a teenager, at about 14 years old, I dont think, male or female, anyone had ever seen a golfer with so much potential, so many possibilities, Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said. Now, in one way, shes still a standout, because shes done some extraordinary things, but in another way, shes just one of the crowd. So, theres that pressure of breaking out again.
 
I dont think shes thinking about any of those things, though. I have to think shes just thinking about winning.
 
If Wie, 19, is going to break out on a big stage, Mission Hills Country Clubs Dinah Shore Tournament Course makes sense as that stage.
 
At 13, playing the Kraft Nabisco for the first time, Wie shot 66 in the third round and earned a spot in the final Sunday pairing.
 
At 14, she finished fourth here.
 
At 16, after missing out on that playoff, she tied for third.
 
I feel comfortable here, she said.
 
David Leadbetter, Wies swing coach, has Wie focusing on the rhythm of her swing this week.
 
While Wies obsession with taking on men has benefited her game, Leadbetter said theres been a downside to crossing over.
 
Leadbetter said playing long PGA Tour tracks, alongside long-hitting PGA Tour pros, Wie can get caught up going harder and harder at shots.
 
You can tie it into when all the problems started, as she started going at it harder and harder, Leadbetter said. Before she broke her wrist, she had some tendonitis problems. If you are going at it 120 percent, there are going to be some things that suffer.
 
Wies once beautiful rhythm goes awry when she swings too hard.
 
For the most part, shes in better positions than she was when she was 15 and 16, so shes really getting back there, Leadbetter said. But the rhythm is still a little bit of an issue, day in and day out. She gets going at it pretty hard. When she can find that consistent flow to her swing that she has when shes playing so well, I think she can get right back.
 
Rankin noticed Wies struggle to find her rhythm in those bad times.
 
As a young player, she had the most beautiful, flowing golf swing, Rankin said. It was longer, and more full. It had a perfect rhythm to it.
 
I thought the shortening and tightening up of her swing was something David was trying to do with her. It was my impression that changed her rhythm. Any time you change the length of a golf swing, its hard to maintain your natural rhythm. I thought the last couple years thats what was going on. I know right now, her swing doesnt seem as abbreviated as a year ago. Maybe it was a process, but what David says makes a lot of sense.
 
Leadbetter likes the improvement hes seeing.
 
When Michelle is in full flight, shes a great sight to behold, and shes going to be great for the LPGA, Leadbetter said.
 
In the battle to be the top American, Wie faces some strong challengers. Shes fallen to 81st in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings.
 
Paula Creamers the highest ranked American in the world at No. 4 and despite battling intestinal problems is highly motivated to claim her first major this week. An eight-time LPGA winner, shes just 22.
 
Angela Stanford is No. 6 in the world and the hottest American, winner of three of her last 10 starts. Shes 31.
 
Cristie Kerr is No. 7 in the world and an 11-time LPGA winner. Shes also 31 and appears to be warming to her best form with no worse than an 11th place finish in four of her five starts this season. Shes the last American to win a major.
 
Morgan Pressel, 20, has slipped to 29th in the world but is feeling good about her new swing changes, especially on a course that holds so many good memories for her. She won the Kraft Nabisco just two years ago.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • Getty Images

    Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

    Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

    Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

    The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

    In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

    "That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    "I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

    Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

    But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

    "Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

    "He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

    Getty Images

    Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

    The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

    Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

    Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

    "I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

    Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

    Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

    Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

    "I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

    "Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

    Getty Images

    Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

    On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

    Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

    What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

    Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

    Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

    Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

    Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

    His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

    Getty Images

    McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

    They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

    England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

    Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

    Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.