Hurst Avenges Heartbreaking Loss

By Sports NetworkSeptember 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 State Farm ClassicSPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Pat Hurst avenged a heartbreaking loss to Cristie Kerr last week by hanging on Sunday and winning the State Farm Classic at The Rail Golf Course.
'Last week, she played well and I want to congratulate her,' said Hurst. 'This week was my turn. It feels great. I didn't think this day would come again. I'm so proud.'
Pat Hurst
After a disappointing loss last week, Pat Hurst had her eyes on the prize this week at the State Farm Classic.
On Sunday of last week's Wendy's Championship for Children, Hurst and Kerr were tied for the lead when Hurst reached the 18th tee. She hit it out of bounds, then made double bogey and lost the tournament by two strokes to Kerr.
This Sunday was a different story as Hurst shot a 2-under 70 and defeated Kerr by three shots at 17-under-par 271. It was her fourth win on the LPGA Tour and her first since the 2000 Electrolux USA Championship.
Kerr, the 2004 champion, made things interesting on the back nine, but came up short. She shot a 3-under 69 to finish at minus-14, one shot better than Natalie Gulbis and Heather Bowie, who both posted rounds of 4-under 68 on Sunday.
Perhaps the happiest person on Sunday beside Hurst was Nancy Lopez. She will lead the United States Solheim Cup team of which Hurst, Kerr and Gulbis are all members.
'Pat Hurst winning is just fantastic,' said Lopez, as she was surrounded by several members of the team, which will head to Crooked Stick Sunday afternoon. 'The team's playing great and the players are awesome.'
Amateur Morgan Pressel, who tied for second at this year's U.S. Women's Open, fired a 6-under 66 and tied for fifth place with Maria Hjorth, a European Solheim Cupper, who shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday. The duo came in at minus-12.
Hurst began the final round with a three-shot lead, but flew out of the gate with back-to-back, 7-foot birdie putts. Kerr also got off to a solid start, but after Hurst played the next nine holes in 2 under par, Hurst held a five-shot lead.
That margin was short-lived as she drove into the right rough off the 12th tee. She knocked her second out of bounds and left with a double bogey and a three-shot lead.
At the 13th, Hurst once again missed the fairway and landed in the front bunker with her second. She blasted her third 9 feet past the hole and missed the putt left. That bogey dropped her to 16 under par and gave her a two-shot lead over Kerr, who parred every hole since three birdies in her first four holes.
Hurst quickly atoned for her mistakes with a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 14. She hit a long drive into the short grass at the par-5 15th, but pulled her second into water. After a drop, Hurst chipped her fourth 6 feet past, but holed the clutch par save.
She needed the par putt because Kerr, in the group in front of Hurst, hit an 8-iron inside 6 inches at the par-3 16th. Kerr tapped in to get within two and Hurst missed a chance at the same hole when her 8-footer hung on the lip.
Kerr made a tough par from the back bunker at 17, but played the 18th horribly. She pulled a 4-footer for par and now Hurst, in the fairway at 18, held a three-shot margin.
Hurst came up 20 feet short with her approach and nearly sank her birdie try. She marked, waited for her playing partners to finish, then tapped in for the win with several of her Solheim Cup teammates storming the green with congratulations.
'The back nine was one of the toughest nines that I've played,' said Hurst, who pocketed $195,000 for the win. 'I have a lot of confidence going into next week. Nothing could be better than representing my country.'
Catriona Matthew, another Solheim Cup player from Europe, managed an even-par 72 and tied for seventh place with Hee-Won Han, who carded a 2-under 70 on Sunday. The duo was knotted at 11-under-par 277.
Audra Burks (68), Moira Dunn (68), Karine Icher (68), Sung Ah Yim (68), Aree Song (70) and Kim Williams (74) tied for ninth place at 10-under-par 278.
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

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    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.