INCHEON, South Korea – Lydia Ko took advantage of Sung Hyun Park’s struggles to take the lead Friday in the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship. The second-ranked Ko made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke lead over Lexi Thompson. Park followed her course-record 62 with a 74 to drop two shots behind. “I thought I played really solidly and made a lot of good putts,” Ko said. “When I was in trouble, I got a little fortunate, got a good lie in the rough.” The South Korean-born New Zealander moved into position to regain the No. 1 spot in the world from South Korean star Inbee Park, one of her playing partners Friday. Ko would take the top spot with a victory and also could move up under other scenarios depending on where Inbee Park finishes. Inbee Park replaced Ko atop the list in June with the first of her two major victories this year. “The closer we get or if there is a switch, the media is going to talk about it,” Ko said. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to try and ignore you guys. I think that’s the best way. Because when I’m out there, I’m just trying to hit a good shot and put myself in good position. If I thought about the rankings, the awards, it’s just way too much. It’s hard enough just trying to hit the ball straight out there.” Ko had a 10-under 134 total on Sky 72’s Ocean Course. She tied for second last week in the LPGA Malaysia after winning her previous two starts in Canada and France, where she became the youngest major champion. Inbee Park was tied for 25th at 3 under after a 72. She’s tied with Ko for the tour victory lead with four. Thompson birdied three of the final four holes for a 67 on the course made more difficult by some tough pin positions. “There were a few that were tucked on some ridges and that were just hard to get to,” the American said. “I think there’s going to be even harder ones tomorrow.” Sung Hyun Park took a four-stroke lead into the round and was seven shots ahead of Ko. “I think it would be a lie to say that I didn’t feel any pressure because of the record that I set yesterday,” Sung Hyun Park said. Still four strokes in front after birdies on Nos. 4 and 5, she bogeyed the next three holes to drop into a tie for the lead with Ko. The 22-year-old South Korean player, making her first LPGA start, missed a 3-foot putt on No. 6 for her first bogey of the week, had a 4-footer circle the cup and stay out on No. 7 and missed from 6 feet on No. 8. She birdied the 10th, but bogeyed the 12th and 18th. “It was very difficult to read some of the putting lines,” she said. “I think I missed a couple of putts that I could have made. That’s kind of lingering on my mind at the moment.” South Korea’s Yoon-Ji Cho also was 8 under after a 68. Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, the 2011 winner, and South Korea’s Mirim Lee were 7 under. Tseng shot 67, and Lee had a 69. England’s Charley Hull, playing alongside Sung Hyun Park and U.S. Solheim Cup hero Gerina Piller in the final group, pulled within a stroke of the lead on the seventh hole, but dropped five strokes on the next six holes and finished with a 74 to drop into a tie for 19th at 4 under. Hull four-putted for a double bogey on No. 8, made a bogey on No. 10 and had another double bogey on the par-5 13th after hitting into the water. Piller also was 4 under after a 74. American Jessica Korda, the Malaysia winner, was 1 under along with Michelle Wie and U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inskter, the oldest player in the field at 55. They each shot 72. Ko and Inbee Park attracted a large gallery. “It’s great to play in front of big crowds,” Ko said. “I think they are as excited as us, even a little bit more. … Last year was the first time playing in Korea, and I’ve been noticing even more and more how much they love the LPGA and how much they love golf. I think the numbers are only going to go up. I think it’s going to be pretty crazy on the weekend.”
From ski masks to surgeries, glutes to gravy, this was indeed a very strange year for Tiger Woods. At least for the time being, Woods’ spot on this annual list of newsmakers appears etched in stone. No other player can create as many headlines or garner such attention, even without the meaningful on-course performance to match. Woods put that maxim to the test this year, one in which he was barely relevant inside the ropes but remained one of the game’s most-discussed figures. Never before have we seen a season for Woods which began with such promise fall apart so quickly. This was supposed to be the beginning of his Final Act, an opportunity to fervently renew his quest for the few career records not already in his possession. Equipped with a new swing consultant and a clean bill of health, Woods embarked on 2015 with equal parts confidence and expectations. He was eager to put behind him an injury-plagued campaign and tackle a list of major venues that included two of his favorite haunts: Augusta National and St. Andrews. What followed was a painful journey from one perceived bottom to the next, as a great champion was reduced to a shell of his former self. The first red flag arose in Phoenix, where Woods’ short-game woes mushroomed into a full-blown case of the yips. Unable to execute a series of straightforward chips, he missed the cut in embarrassing fashion. Woods leaned on some of his favorite buzzwords in the immediate aftermath at TPC Scottsdale, insisting that he was simply caught between swing patterns. He was quick to remind the world that he was not that far removed from a five-win season in 2013. But then Woods abruptly withdrew the following week because of a back injury, limping off the course before offering his now-famous explanation from the Torrey Pines parking lot that he simply couldn’t “activate his glutes.” Top 10 Newsmakers of 2015: The full list That two-week debacle led Woods to take an indefinite leave from competition, the strongest indicator yet that something was seriously amiss. “Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level,” Woods wrote on his website. “When I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.” That return proved to be at the Masters, where Woods’ T-17 finish offered a rare glimmer of hope. But that would turn out to be his lone weekend appearance at the majors, as Woods averaged nearly 76 swipes per round at Chambers Bay, the Old Course and Whistling Straits. There was also a third-round 85 at Jack’s Place, Woods’ highest single-round score and one that led to a solo dew-sweeping appointment the following morning. While that effort at the Memorial proved to be Woods’ statistical low point, larger setbacks still loomed. To be fair, there were also signs of progress along the way, hints that maybe this lost campaign could somehow still be salvaged. When Woods returned to action at the Masters, he seemed a different player than the one who had bowed out weeks earlier. He was lighthearted and candid in his pre-tournament pressers; he danced and listened to music while practicing on the range. And there was eventually cause for optimism on the scorecard, too. He turned two good rounds at The Greenbrier Classic into three good rounds at the Quicken Loans National, which led to the high-water mark of the year at the Wyndham Championship. After making an unexpected and last-minute commitment to the event, Woods took the tournament by storm before ever hitting a shot. He demonstrated control on a tight track, contending and even leading deep into the weekend. While he didn’t win, he left Greensboro with his first top-10 finish in nearly two years and seemingly had some momentum heading into the offseason. But just a few weeks later, Woods announced that he had undergone a second microdiscectomy surgery on his injured back, and another follow-up procedure soon followed. When he showed up at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month, Woods’ comments took on a somber tone as he offered no timetable for his return and appeared devoid of optimism. “Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t know, so that’s been hard,” he said. “Hopefully the day-by-day adds up to something positive here soon.” It was there, in a Bahamian sweatbox in front of dozens of media members, that Woods’ already disastrous year officially bottomed out. Perhaps we should have known that Woods was in for a strange year when our first glimpse of him was high atop a mountain in January, donning a skeleton ski mask and missing a tooth. Perhaps each on-course struggle that followed should have been made somewhat less jarring by the one that preceded it. But this was Tiger Woods. This was the most decorated winner of his generation, a man whose golf ball has been largely under his command and control for more than two decades. It wasn’t supposed to go like this. And yet, despite the struggles, we watched. And we read, and we commented. Woods is now ranked No. 413 in the world, but he is also the central figure in five of the 10 most-read stories on GolfChannel.com this year. Fans care about Woods, both when he wins and when he misses the cut, and our “Tiger at 40” series has displayed Woods’ far-reaching impact on the game’s current landscape. So while this year did not go according to plan for Woods, he still gave us plenty to talk about. And although his status for 2016 (and beyond) remains anyone’s guess, one thing appears certain: regardless of his performance, he’ll likely have a spot on this countdown next year.
MELBOURNE, Australia – The World Cup of Golf is going to Kingston Heath in November. Officials announced late last year that the two-man team event would be going to Melbourne, and the assumption was that it would return to Royal Melbourne. Instead, it will go to a course that is among the best in the fabled Sandbelt. Kingston Heath has hosted the Australian Open seven times and the Australian Masters twice. Its list of winners includes Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. The World Cup of Golf will be Nov. 24-27 and feature two days of foursomes and two days of fourballs. The tournament dates to 1953 when it was called the Canada Cup. The previous four times the World Cup was in Melbourne it was played at Royal Melbourne.
Brooke Henderson wins an instant classic, Daniel Berger knocks down the door, a brutal U.S. Open looms and more in this week’s edition of the Monday Scramble: The only person with a wider smile today than Henderson is LPGA commissioner Mike Whan. Women’s golf was the big winner Sunday. Yes, technically, Henderson became the second-youngest major winner in history at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, but there was no shortage of heroines in the Pacific Northwest. In her first full season on tour, Henderson, 18, cemented her place among the game’s best players. Lydia Ko, 19, vying to become just the fifth woman to win three consecutive majors, proved gracious in defeat. Ariya Jutanugarn, 20, bidding for her fourth win in a row, powered her way to another high finish. And tree-lined Sahalee, left off the men’s and women’s major radar for nearly two decades, was a smashing success in its return to a big stage. The final round of the Women’s PGA was one of the most compelling in LPGA history, a highlight-reel finish even in a crowded sports week. It’s a dream scenario for Whan and the LPGA brass, and the rest of the major season could make 2016 a transformative year for the women’s game. 1. For months, maybe even years now, all we’ve been hearing is how the future of the game is bright on the LPGA tour. Enough already. Ko, Henderson, Jutanugarn and Lexi Thompson – all 21 or younger – aren’t just the “future” of the women’s game. They’re the present, too. It’s obvious that they’re the best the LPGA has to offer – a quartet that is powerful, ambitious, compelling, fan-friendly and, most of all, loaded with talent. They’ve elevated the LPGA to another level, adding a dose of excitement that was sorely lacking over the past few years. Make no mistake, the future IS bright, with another decade of intriguing duels sure to unfold. But the present is awfully good, too. 2. Which Henderson shot was the most impressive during the Showdown at Sahalee? There were plenty to choose from during her closing 65. From the 90-foot eagle on 11 to the 40-foot birdie on 17 to the 90-yard up-and-down on 18 to the cold-blooded 7-iron to 3 feet in the playoff, Henderson put on a clinic to capture her first major title. “I’m happy with the way I played,” said Ko, who shot a bogey-free 66 of her own in the final round. “I just got outplayed.” 3. As this season progressed, it became clear that Berger was on the verge of a breakthrough. The 2015 Rookie of the Year had six top-20 finishes in his last seven stroke-play starts entering last week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic. With the victory, Berger moved from 25th to 12th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. With his combination of talent and swagger, he would make a fun addition to the American squad come late September. 4. Dustin Johnson has eight consecutive seasons with a PGA Tour victory, and he’s had several chances this year to extend the longest active streak in the game. He began the final round at Riviera, Houston and Memorial just one off the lead. He blew up on the weekend at Torrey Pines and on the final day at Doral. And even last week in Memphis he had a prime opportunity, only to shoot 73 in the third round. Surprising, sure, but he’ll enter this week’s Oakmont Open as one of the main protagonists. Again. He shot 29 on his final nine holes Sunday for a closing 63 and a second consecutive top-five finish. “Right now I have a lot of confidence,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been playing really well.” And speaking of players who headed north with good vibes … 5. Phil Mickelson posted his third top-three finish in the past four years at the St. Jude Classic. What will it mean for his Open chances? Consider this when filling out your major pools: • The only other time Mickelson tied for second in Memphis, in 2013, he went on to hold the 54-hole lead the following week at Merion. We all know how that turned out. • In 2014, he was tied for fourth after three rounds before fading to a T-11. The following week, in his return to Pinehurst, he was 28th. • Last year, he finished joint third at TPC Southwind but never had a chance at Chambers Bay, tying for 64th. Lefty was No. 1 in putting in Memphis, pouring in a whopping 434 feet worth of putts over four days … but he also found less than half the fairways. That won’t fly at Oakmont. Mickelson has played there twice in competition, in the 1994 and ’07 U.S. Opens. He shot rounds of 74-77 at the ’07 Open – just the second time he’s missed the cut in the year’s second major. “It almost feels like the U.S. Open came a week early to finish another second place,” he smirked. 6. Another big bopper is trending, as well: Brooks Koepka. After a playoff loss at the Nelson, Koepka came back with a tie for second at the St. Jude, three shots behind Berger. Most encouraging for this week’s Open? He was ranked inside the top 5 in strokes gained-tee to green, proximity to the hole and scrambling. “My game is peaking,” he said. 7. Yes, indeed, it’s officially Oakmont Open week, which means we’re setting the over/under on the words “hard” and “tough” at 8,395.5 for the next seven days. More than its church-pew bunkers or Johnny Miller’s 63, Oakmont is best known among golf fans for its sheer difficulty. At 7,200 yards, it’s the shortest course on the Open rota. But the place isn’t tricked out, either – USGA setup czar Mike Davis said the fairways will be the same width, the rough will be the same length, the bunkers will be prepared the same way, the hole locations will be in the same areas and the greens speeds will be similar. They just so happen to be the fastest, and most undulating, greens in golf. Prior to 2007, the last five Opens held there were won with an under-par score. No one expects that to be the case this year, not with shoe-swallowing rough and greens that will push 14 1/2 on the Stimpmeter. Those who have seen the course already have noted the similarities to ’07, when Angel Cabrera won at 5 over par. With rain and wind in the forecast, a har- … sorry, a brutal course will only get more difficult. 8. With all of that said, here are one man’s favorites for the U.S. Open: Jason Day: His driving, short game and course management are huge advantages at this type of test, which helps explain why he has four top-10s in five Open appearances. Dustin Johnson: If he’s driving the ball in play, few Open venues will set up better for him. It remains to be seen whether he can smartly navigate his way around such a demanding course. Rory McIlroy: Peaking at the right time, the only question mark is how his putting stroke will hold up on these torturous greens. Jordan Spieth: He tends to thrive at more difficult courses, which place a greater emphasis on the short game and reward discipline. Hideki Matsuyama: His iron play is so good that he’s bound to be in the mix, especially in what figures to be an over-par slugfest. Adam Scott: He’s cooled since a torrid spring, but his rock-solid game has produced top-15s in three of the past four Opens. Sergio Garcia: Back in the winner’s circle at the Nelson, but he opened with 79 the last time the Open was at Oakmont. Rickie Fowler: Which Fowler will show up this week: the one with six top-10s this season, or the guy who has two consecutive missed cuts and hasn’t been better than 30th in his past four majors? Patrick Reed: Something has to give this week: He has the most top-10s on Tour this season (nine), but he’s still looking for his first top-10 in a major. Justin Rose: The 2013 champion would be higher on this list if not for a back injury that knocked him out of the Memorial. Enters the week with seven top-20s in his past eight stroke-play events. 9. Want an indication of how this week will go? These Instagram posts from Justin Thomas, Byeong-Hun An and Max Kieffer should give you a pretty good idea. Look, we’re all for a gut-check U.S. Open, but when conditions are this severe, it negates some of the skill required to play the shots. 10. Battling through a thumb injury, Inbee Park mercifully completed her eligibility for the LPGA Hall of Fame last week. At age 27, she is the youngest player to qualify for the Hall, her remarkable career (so far) producing 10 LPGA titles and seven major victories. The next phase of her career is unclear. Park hinted at a long layoff because of the left thumb injury, and she said she would notify the Korean Olympic Committee next month about her availability for the Olympic Games. For the past few months, she has played through the injury in order to record 10 events in 10 seasons. She has only a pair of top-10s this year. 11. When will Tiger Woods return to competition? It’s looking more and more likely that it won’t be this season. Saying that he wasn’t “physically ready,” Woods bowed out of this week’s U.S. Open and the following week’s Quicken Loans National, which benefits his foundation. The number of possible return dates is dwindling. Though he could play the July 14-17 Open Championship or July 28-31 PGA, at this point it doesn’t make much sense to come back this season. The regular season ends Aug. 21, and Woods, who has not played at all this season, is unlikely to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Why rush back and risk re-injury when there is little chance of contending after nearly a year’s worth of competitive rust? 12. Bernhard Langer continues to amaze. It’s funny now to think about how much angst there was about Langer post-anchoring ban. The ageless wonder is doing just fine. The 58-year-old won for the third time this season at the Senior Players Championship. He is second on the over-50 circuit in putting average and first in birdie average. Most impressively, he survived the ultimate test at Philadelphia Cricket Club, where windy conditions made putting with the unanchored long wand even trickier. Langer will slow down eventually (right?), but it won’t be anytime soon. Michelle Wie’s abysmal season continued at the Women’s PGA Championship, where she shot rounds of 78-80 to miss her third consecutive cut. Her travails stand in stark contrast to the brilliant play of the game’s newest stars. Wie’s breakthrough win at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open was supposed to spur her on to great heights, to offset all of the middling years and to begin to fulfill her immense potential. Instead, it’s only served to measure how far she has fallen. In the two injury-plagued years since, she is still waiting for another top-10 finish, let alone a title. After yet another early exit at Sahalee, Wie was skewered by a USA Today columnist for cutting off a 90-second interview. Now 26, Wie, sadly, is on the verge of being forgotten, passed over by players who are younger, more talented and, most of all, hungrier to succeed. This week’s award winners … Last Laugh: Berger. On the eve of the final round, the 23-year-old discussed his relationship with Mickelson. “I like to call Phil Philip,” Berger said. “He says only his wife calls him that, I can’t call him that until I win on the PGA Tour. But I still call him that anyway. I don’t care.” And so after Berger raced past him on Sunday and won for the first time on Tour, Mickelson was asked again about their name game. “I just saw him inside,” Lefty said. “Philip it is.” Irony: Steve Stricker qualifies for the Open Championship. After skipping the year’s third major each of the past three years, Stricker was one of the four Open qualifiers in Memphis. He said his potential appearance at Troon will be a “game-time decision,” because that week conflicts with his wedding anniversary.Not Bad for a Golfer: Jason Day. Throwing out the first pitch for the Pirates-Cardinals game, the world No. 1 hurled a 53-mph fastball. Fortunately, no one was injured. Next LPGA Star Alert: Bronte Law. It was an impressive six days for the rising UCLA senior, who was named the Annika Award winner as the top player in women’s college golf, then became just the second Curtis Cup player in history to go 5-0 in a winning effort for Team GB&I. First Time for Everything: Slow-play penalties at the Curtis Cup. During Saturday four-balls, U.S. team member Bailey Tardy was assessed a two-shot penalty for slow play. She lost the hole and the match, putting the Americans in an even bigger hole. U.S. captain Robin Burke said the penalty was in “poor taste” and that the Ladies Golf Union was inconsistent in doling out penalties and bad times. Sounds familiar. See You Next Year?: Beau Hossler. What was supposed to be a busy summer of pro events has instead turned into a lot of downtime for one of the game’s next great talents. Injured during the NCAA semifinals, Hossler underwent shoulder surgery June 10 and likely won’t return to competition until early 2017. End of an Era: Dunvegan Hotel. St. Andrews’ famed 19th hole will go on the market today after 23 years. Here’s hoping the next owners are as hospitable as Jack and Sheena Willoughby. Only One LPGAer Can Do This: Jutanugarn. If you need me, I’ll be watching this on an endless loop all day. Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Ryan Palmer. After a T-3 at Colonial and top-25s in three of his last four trips to Memphis, he was an obvious selection for the St. Jude … until he shot 8 over on the weekend and tied for 68th. Sigh.
AKRON, Ohio – Consider it Oakmont Light. Two weeks after players battled the elements on what is considered by many the toughest course in the country, they have gathered this week at Firestone Country Club for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. A compacted schedule has bumped this event from early August to the heart of the summer. The rains that have often plagued this event are nowhere to be seen; the fairways are firm, the greens are fast and the winds are swirling. In other words, it’s not offering much of a U.S. Open letup. “On a scale of 10? Ten,” said William McGirt, who held the opening-round lead but backed up with a second-round 74. “Trying to figure out the wind was impossible.” The stat line bears out the notion that even the players near the top of the leaderboard are simply holding on for dear life. Jordan Spieth has found only 15 of 36 greens in regulation, relying instead on par saves – many improbable, but which Spieth seems to pull off with stunning regularity. It was a similar story for David Lingmerth, who hit only six greens Friday but still managed a 3-under 67 in the second round to vault into second place. “It’s a grind,” Lingmerth said. “You have to really pay attention to every shot, because any little mistake and you put yourself in a terrible spot and your number can easily get away from you.” The South Course is an old-school brute of a layout. Over the course of 36 holes, it has weeded out several competitors, even among an elite field. WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, photos and videos But it has also created a situation that plays right into the hands of the best player in the world. Jason Day set a major scoring record with his win last year at the PGA Championship. He can go low – really low, as he showed with wins earlier this year at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass. But deep down, the Aussie embraces a difficult test. He thrives on the grind-it-out approach required in the game’s biggest events, and he brought that mentality with him this week to Ohio, where he holds a one-shot lead over Lingmerth after a second-round 69. “If I had to pick, if I could play a lot of U.S. Opens every year, I’d love to because I feel like I play the U.S. Opens good,” Day said. “This field is starting to feel that way because it’s difficult to hit fairways and you have to get it up around the greens to save yourself.” As Day sees it, a difficult course means players are tested as much mentally as they are physically. A two-part examination gives him an extra opportunity to distance himself from the pack. “Sometimes you’re out there and you’re not quite, not quite in it, and you’ve got to refocus and readjust yourself and push out all the negative thoughts,” he said. “Everyone goes through it out there on the golf course, and that really shows how much grit you have deep down inside to get that thing done, and trying to want it more than everyone else.” Based on the results of the last year or so, it’s clear that Day lacks neither grit nor desire. He has rallied for some wins and coasted to others, but the message throughout his rise to the top spot in the world rankings has remained the same: He simply wants more. A search for more wins turned into a quest for a major. That begat a chase for the world No. 1 ranking, and now Day, having ticked off each of the previous boxes, is looking at bigger-picture items like Hall of Fame credentials and the influence he can have on his peers simply by racking up hardware. “I’ve just got to really try to focus on winning, and if I can do that and win a lot, then hopefully over time it happens, and then you get that kind of aura effect, I guess, and people know that you’re around,” he said. “Greg Norman had it, Tiger Woods had it. There’s been a few people in this world that have had that in this game of golf. It’s difficult to attain, but definitely the only way to do it is to win.” He has a great chance to add to his trophy collection this weekend, and to become the first player since Woods in 2013 to win two WGC events in the same season. But that opportunity has not come easily, as even Day has not been immune to the difficult conditions and swirling winds. Par, though, is a good score this week. It’ll continue to be a good score on a course expected to remain firm and fast for the weekend. It’s a scenario that is reminiscent of the most recent major, and it’s one where Day is now in the driver’s seat in his quest for, simply, more. “If I can give myself the opportunities, I’m hoping I can stretch that lead over 54 holes,” he said. “And then hopefully by 72, I can stretch that lead even more.”
WELLESLEY, Mass. – Ellen Port moved into position for her third U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur title and seventh USGA championship, winning two matches Wednesday on her 55th birthday – and 32nd anniversary of her father’s death – to reach the final. ”This is always a day of mixed emotions in my life,” said Port, from St. Louis. ”But I have gratitude. I count my blessings. You never know if you’ll pass this way again. It takes so much to reach the finals.” Port will face 55-year-old Andrea Kraus of Baltimore in the title match at Wellesley Country Club. Port beat Lisa Schlesinger of Laytonsville, Md., 2 and 1 in the morning quarterfinals and outlasted Laura Coble of Augusta, Ga., in 19 holes in the afternoon semifinals. ”When you get to match play, you just have to never give up and be very patient,” Port said. ”My ‘A’ game hasn’t shown up. I’ve just been kind of inconsistent.” Kraus needed extra holes in both matches, topping Canada’s Judith Kyrinis in 21 holes in the quarterfinals and Karen Garcia of Cool, Calif., in 19 holes in the semifinals. Kraus got past the quarterfinals for the first time in USGA play. ”I had a really long day with two really long matches against two terrific players,” Kraus said. ”It wasn’t flawless golf. We were tired. By the end it was who could survive, and I happened to survive today.” Port won in 2012 and 2013 after taking U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur titles in 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2011. With six USGA women’s titles, she’s tied with Hollis Stacy for fourth place – one behind Carol Semple Thompson and Anne Quast Sander and two behind JoAnne Gunderson Carner. Port is playing for 55th USGA championship event. ”When the gun goes off tomorrow, none of that will matter,” Port said. ”I’ll just convince myself that I’m the world’s greatest amateur. It’s what I’ve done my whole life. That’s just how I operate.” Port pulled even with Coble with a birdie win on the par-3 15th, halved the par-4 16th and par-5 17th and 18th with pars and won with a par on the par-4 19th. In the quarterfinals, Port finished off Schlesinger with a par win on 17. ”I never feel out of a match,” Port said. ”I love being able to pull off a shot. I think I can really focus in on the task at hand and keep from getting too far ahead of myself. It’s just me and the golf course. That’s the way it’s always been. That’s all I can control, and that frees me up.” Kraus squared the match with Garcia with a par win on 17, halved the 18th with a bogey and won with a par on the first extra hole. In the quarterfinals, Kraus won the 14th and 15th to tie Kyrinis, and ended it with a par win on the 21st. ”It is pretty nice to finally get to a final, it really is,” Kraus said. ”It’s really exciting. I’m delighted. I’ll do my best.”
PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland – Rising Spanish star Jon Rahm upstaged tournament host Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open by shooting a 7-under 65 to move one stroke off the first-round lead on Thursday. Rahm, ranked No. 11, showed impressive form on the links two weeks out from the British Open, rolling in six birdies and an eagle on a low-scoring day at Portstewart. He was tied for third place with Englishmen Matthew Southgate and Oliver Fisher. Daniel Im of the United States, ranked No. 542, and Benjamin Hebert of France, ranked No. 254, held the lead after shooting bogey-free 64s. McIlroy, the defending champion and part of a heavyweight group containing Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama, parred his last 11 holes and was even par at a tournament which benefits his own foundation. The No. 2-ranked Matsuyama shot 67. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open: Articles, photos and videos Rahm has taken a break from the PGA Tour, where he is enjoying a breakthrough season, to play in Europe ahead of the British Open at Royal Birkdale from July 20-23. He tied for 10th at the French Open last week and is now in contention in Ireland, another event in the European Tour’s Rolex Series with a prize fund of $7 million. He holed a long birdie putt on No. 1 and followed up a bogey and two birdies by rolling in a 20-foot eagle putt on the 7th. He birdied both par fives on the back nine before a final birdie on the 15th. ”My attitude was probably the best it’s been all year,” said Rahm, who is known for his fiery temperament. ”I was positive all day. Kept my routine going. Stayed calm and the result showed how good it was.” Im, who made six birdies in his opening eight holes, is leading a European Tour event for only the second time in his career. His best finish this year is 14th. Hebert was the best of the afternoon starters, picking up four straight birdies from No. 13 to join Im atop the leaderboard.
No matter how packed with all that makes the game great a golf year might be – and I’d contend that there’s never been a year that wasn’t – it won’t stand out in history unless it has one extra special moment. And 2019 had that. Golf’s broad strokes rarely cut as wide a swath through culture as the Big 3 team sports, but Tiger Woods’ victory at the Masters was voted The Associated Press’s top sports story of the year. Its importance may come to be considered greater than his 1997 Masters victory, or his U.S. Open wins at Pebble Beach in 2000 and Torrey Pines in 2008. And as a comeback from adversity, Woods’ first major victory in 11 years at least rivals – and arguably surpasses – not only Ben Hogan’s 1950 U.S. Open, but ANY sports comeback ever. It was extra special. But so much else happened in 2019. What to make of the rest? Well, let’s start with … Woods. It’s easy to forget that a lot of things had to go just right on Sunday for Tiger to win at Augusta. And that as much as the place is considered his sweet spot, he hadn’t won there since 2005. For me, the singular moment that meant more going forward was the Zozo Championship in November. Not because it became Woods’ record-tying 82nd career. And despite the tournament being a limited field, off-season event over a short golf course in a faraway land. News & Opinion Storylines of the Year, No. 1: Woods wins No. 15 BY Ryan Lavner — December 20, 2019 at 11:30 AM Was there any doubt? For our No. 1 Storyline of the Year, we look back on Tiger Woods’ 15th major title at the Masters Tournament. It was the WAY that Tiger played – with a return to an ease and smoothness in his action that not only recalled much earlier days, but which promises repeatability and consistency. As well as – on the right occasions – dominance. Next on the hit parade – the education of Rory McIlroy. The four-time major winner added important elements to his game – namely better putting and overall ball control – to set the foundation for another sustained run of greatness in his 30s. But it was also a year of searching. McIlroy came into 2019 reflective and open to new ideas. He said meditation, juggling and several self-help books had led him to decide that he would no longer “allow my score to define who I am as a person.” His consistency improved and he impressively won The Players in March. But McIlroy also had several flattish Sundays with chances to win, and the Masters – where he continues to chase the career Grand Slam – didn’t go so well. Prior to the U.S. Open, McIlroy roared to a seven-shot win in Canada. But he tied for ninth at Pebble Beach. Expectations were again high at Portrush, a short car ride from his boyhood home and where he had shot the course record of 61 at age 16. He opened The Open with a nervous 79 and missed the cut. The next week he got boat-raced by winner Brooks Koepka in a final Sunday pairing at the WGC-FedEx in Memphis. It was again time to reassess. After winning the FedExCup at East Lake, this time outplaying Koepka in the last group in what he would later call the highlight of his year, McIlroy revealed having committed to a harder and more self-aware competitive edge. “I think one of the biggest things is sometimes I’ve tried to treat Sundays the same as a Thursday or Friday, and they’re not,” said McIlroy, who would go on to win WGC-HSBC in Shanghai in November for his fourth victory of the year. “I’ve gone into them maybe a little too relaxed, but it’s not the same, and it’s about trying to get yourself in the right mindset. I guess that’s the ultimate compliment I can give Brooks is that I wanted to be a little bit more like him.” McIlroy on Koepka rivalry: Feels good to take down No. 1 Speaking of Big Game Brooks, his ruthless march through the major championships since 2017 has been undervalued. In the last 30 years, only Woods, McIlroy and Nick Faldo have had such prolonged periods of excellence in the biggest events. This year, Koepka showed true dominance in building a seven-stroke lead through three rounds in his victory at the PGA at Bethpage. That he bookended that performance with seconds at the Masters and at the U.S. Open got short shrift. And after he finished fourth at Portrush, when his putter uncharacteristically failed him (and he was being bothered by a torn patella tendon in his left knee that required stem cell treatment and from which he is still recovering), too many acted as though his reign had ended. That impression was strengthened when McIlroy was chosen as PGA Tour Player of the Year by a vote of his peers. In the last couple of years, Koepka has used relatively small slights for fuel. But going into 2020 and turning 30 in May, he will be on a mission to strengthen his hold on world No. 1 and outdo McIlroy in the process. Koepka betrayed some saltiness in October by pointing out that, “I’ve been out here for what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I don’t view it as a rivalry.” Sounds like a rivalry. Although Jon Rahm, who enters 2020 at No. 3 in the world, is expected to intrude. The 25-year-old Spaniard earns the description “beast” in the same way as team sport athletes who appear physically overwhelming. Along with his nine combined victories on the PGA and European tours, Rahm has also validated his combination of power and touch with a relentless consistency – in his first 89 official worldwide professional starts, Rahm has 44 top-10s, only one less than Woods in his first 89. As he continues to mature – and he got married just this month – expect a calmer, more controlled Rahm to be even more dangerous. In the women’s game, Jin Young Ko was by far the best player of the year, winning two majors and two other events in only her second season on the LPGA tour. In a gracious acceptance speech for year-end honors at the tour’s awards banquet, the 24-year-old South Korean’s accented, but precise English reflected the same discipline and exactitude that is so evident in her game. The current Rolex No. 1 knows that’s been a precarious perch over the last decade in women’s golf, and she seems determined to change the cycle. “This is not the end,” she told the gathering, “but only the beginning.” Ok, that’s the highest profile stuff. But there was also a pervasive theme that permeated 2019. In so many ways, it was an extraordinarily “feel-good” year. Usually in these end-of-the-year assessments, what sticks with me most – and reinforces my generally tragic sense of competitive golf – are the deeply wounding, self-induced losses brought on by late implosions. You know, Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot, Adam Scott at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and Jordan Spieth at the 2016 Masters – with plenty of other examples to stuff into the hurt locker. But as I remember 2019, only two players caused such sadness, Francesco Molinari at the Masters and Lizette Salas at the Women’s British Open. Molinari, the seemingly unflappable ball-striking machine led by two strokes on the 12th tee Sunday at the Masters before mishitting an 8-iron into Rae’s Creek, opening the door for Woods. Salas, who played the best golf of her life with a closing 65 at Woburn, missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, and then watched Hinako Shibuno win it with a 20-footer. Instead of a bevy of heartbreak, we got a full complement of Capra-esque moments. Winning putt: Pettersen clinches the Solheim Cup for Europe • Suzann Pettersen, after making an 8-footer on the final green in the last match that spelled the difference between winning and losing the Solheim Cup, announced her retirement at age 38. One of the great walk-offs ever in professional sports. Pettersen said she reached the decision spontaneously with the thought, “This is it. This is the peak.” • Shane Lowry, as an underachiever scarred by a Sunday failure at the 2016 U.S. Open, shouldering the immense mental load before thousands of home fans in a land that hadn’t held the Open Championship since 1951, and winning by six. The panorama on Portrush’s 72nd hole, with fans running up the fairway behind Lowry, some waving Irish flags in the rain amid a constant roar, was one of pure cathartic release. • Shibuno winning the Women’s British Open at Woburn in her first professional tournament outside Japan. A babe in the woods at 20, she was bolstered by innocence and a constant, infectious smile, even as she four-putted early in the final round. Shibuno caught fire and closed with a 31 on the final nine, her final putt rammed in with a blissful freedom, to become the second Japanese player to win a major championship. • The scene at the inaugural Augusta National Woman’s Amateur, where the image of women striding the hallowed grounds was a transformative moment for the game. The impressive brand of head-to-head power golf played by winner Jennifer Kupcho and runner-up Maria Fassi was the icing on the cake. • The effervescent Helen Alfreddson winning the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles, the most joyous, “about time” and appreciated championship in golf. Love of the game is never more palpable than among too-long-ignored 50-and-over LPGA veterans, and Alfreddson’s passion and exuberance spoke for them all. • Cameron Champ won the Safeway Open in October while dedicating his play to his gravely ill African-American grandfather, Mack, who started him in the game. The 24-year-old bomber’s calm as he garnered his second victory was reminiscent of Ben Crenshaw’s march to the 1995 Masters after being a pallbearer at the funeral of his teacher, Harvey Penick, earlier that week. • In the most exciting finish of the year, Matthew Wolff – he of the fascinatingly powerful swing and unofficial leader of the game’s latest youth movement – in only his third pro start, won the 3M Championship with an eagle on the 72nd hole to beat Bryson DeChambeau, who had also eagled the last, by one. • Finally – and excuse my darkness – Koepka and Rahm saving big victories after blowing huge Sunday leads. For some reason, nothing makes me happier (or more accurately – relieved) than seeing a player who has gone from the zone to full meltdown, and then reverse what suddenly looks like his or her inevitable and awful fate in the nick of time. Koepka dug to the very bottom of his deep reservoir of poise to do it at Bethpage after four straight bogeys on the final nine had him lose all but one of his seven-stroke lead. Rahm had a five shot lead with 10 to play at the DP World in Dubai, but it was all gone – thanks especially to a couple of knuckleheaded three-putts from inside 25 feet – when he reached the 72nd hole. He’ll remember that birdie – with a smile and a shudder – for the rest of his life. Adding additional poignancy to our main theme, it was also the year of journeymen – each capable, but with a history of struggle at the highest level – seizing the day. News & Opinion Todd recovers after one shot sends career into downward spiral BY Ryan Lavner — November 5, 2019 at 7:45 AM There is a fine line between success and slump in professional golf. It took only one swing to send Brendon Todd over that line and years to make it back. Brendan Todd ran away with this category, returning from nearly four years in the wilderness that included a stretch of missing 37 of 41 cuts, to win back-to-back at Bermuda and Mayakoba, and then nearly won again at the RSM. The 34-year-old, who won the Byron Nelson in 2014, came down with a nightmare dose of the swing yips (the lose-it-way-right strain) that by late-2018 had him on the verge of giving up pro golf and opening a pizza franchise. Instead, Todd got some help from swing coach and former player Bradley Hughes and pulled off one of the great turnarounds in golf history. And consider this roll call of others who went through storybook lost-and-found cycles to convert a week of magic into first victories that take them into 2020 with transformed lives: Max Homa (Wells Fargo Championship), JT Poston (Wyndham Championship), Nate Lashley (Rocket Mortgage), Lanto Griffin (Houston Open), Tyler Duncan (RSM Classic), Adam Long (Desert Classic). Inspirations all. And at the risk of belaboring the feel-good point, it seemed that just about every level of pro golf ended the year on a happy note. At the PGA Tour’s finale at East Lake, McIlroy spread much joy in Ponte Vedra, with one fell swoop validating the wisdom of the Tour’s more compressed and earlier finishing schedule, getting the new “staggered start” scoring system at the Tour Championship off on the right foot, and winning in the final group in another showdown with Koepka. The LPGA’s season ended on a high note with Sei Young Kim making a 22-foot birdie putt on the last hole to win the richest first-place prize ever in the women’s game – $1.5 million – at the CME Group Tour Championship. A new format had been questioned for seeming to put sheer money over an equitable reward for season-long performance, but Kim’s stature as a top player and the cliffhanger nature of her victory over Charley Hull made for a satisfying result. The PGA Tour Champions season ended with a bang when Jeff Maggert holed out from 123 yards for eagle to win the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in sudden-death. And at the last big event of the year, the Presidents Cup, Woods was fittingly triumphant as both captain and player. And, as he has done more with age, a strong display of emotion spread the joy. So finally, did something happen that set the tone for all this happiness? Was there a beginning? Golf Central Remember when: Amy B. amazes Woodland BY Brentley Romine — January 30, 2019 at 1:17 PM Amy Bockerstette, a 20-year-old golfer with Down syndrome, got to play the iconic 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and made par with Gary Woodland watching. To say there wasn’t would be to underestimate the impact of Amy Bockerstette, a 20-year-old collegiate golfer and Special Olympics athlete with Down syndrome, who in January played the 16th hole with Gary Woodland at the pro-am of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. I’ll admit it, tears fill my eyes each time I watch the 2-minute and 50-second video, which has reached double-digit million views. Seeing the way Bockerstette, clearly thrilled to meet her playing partners, Woodland and Matt Kuchar, reveled so genuinely as the center of attention on golf’s iconic stadium hole, and then stepped up, assertively telling herself, “I got this,” is irresistible. She hit a good tee shot, followed with a deft bunker shot, and then, again repeating her mantra out loud, drilled the 10-footer for par with Nicklausian poise. One guess at the phrase Woodland told himself before pulling off the shot of the year – a perfectly clipped 60-degree wedge off the 17th green at Pebble Beach that carried and spun to within 4 feet and a crucial par. Said Woodland of Bockertette: “There’s nobody that I’ve seen be in the moment as much as she is.” In a particularly feel-good year, it might have been the most extra special moment of all.
The last time Nick Watney was on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, there were far more questions than answers. In June, Watney became the first PGA Tour player to test positive for COVID-19 following the circuit’s restart and while the world’s understanding of the coronavirus has evolved dramatically the last 10 months, the 39-year-old’s mind inevitably drifted back to those uncertain days when he arrived to play this week’s RBC Heritage. “Coming back to the island has brought back some memories, uncertain times at that point. Just in my head, mostly. It didn’t seem like there was a ton of data,” Watney told GolfChannel.com. The 2020 Heritage was the second event on the Tour’s reimagined schedule and following a successful testing week at the Charles Schwab Challenge there was a very real sense of relief at Harbour Town Golf Links. Following months of uncertainty, maybe the Tour could play through a pandemic. Ian Poulter and Mark Hubbard took the early lead with 7-under 64s while Watney struggled to a 74 that left him tied for 134th out of 151 players. The Tour’s official announcement that Watney had tested positive said he’d “indicated he had symptoms consistent with the illness.” But Watney didn’t have any real symptoms associated with COVID-19. RBC Heritage: Full-field tee times | Full coverage “I debated even getting tested because I felt fine. The data on my Whoop [fitness strap] said my respiratory rate was high and that was unique to COVID,” he said. “I didn’t have any outward symptoms.” Although the Tour’s COVID-19 protocols have evolved since those first few events, the Tour’s doctor told Watney he could go warm up for the second round while they waited for his test results. He spent time with his caddie, Tony Navarro, hit balls on the Harbour Town range, which is among the smallest on Tour, and even had a brief conversation with Rory McIlroy on the practice putting green. Watney’s positive test was a shock. He’d followed all of the protocols, worn his mask when he wasn’t playing and practicing and adhered to the circuit’s safer-at-home rules. All total, Watney spent 12 days in quarantine in a small condo tucked on the back side of Hilton Head Island. He was alone with his thoughts and, like everyone else, so many questions. “I was trying to follow all of the protocols and do the right thing. It was confusing and scary at the same time. All those things have come up again,” Watney said of his 12 days in isolation. Watney’s case was mild and he also had the support of the Tour, which provided him with a stipend for his time in quarantine. The bigger concern at the time was how his positive test might impact others. Would Navarro need to be quarantined? Who would be pulled into the contact tracing that followed the first positive test? And, most concerning, what if he passed the virus along to someone? Watney texted McIlroy Friday afternoon to apologize for putting him at risk, and Luke List and Vaughn Taylor, who were paired with Watney for Round 1, and their caddies were retested for COVID-19. “I was super worried about [infecting others],” Watney said. “The driving range is small and I was around this guy or that guy. It’s terrible to think about the distanced interactions you did have. It was a relief no one was infected by me.” For 12 days Watney was left alone with his own thoughts and he spent a good deal of time researching the coronavirus and trying to learn as much as he could. He learned that “viral waste” can continue to be detected even though the virus is dead. This week, a few players have asked Watney about last year’s Heritage and being back on the island has stirred a lot memories from his time in the small condo. “I haven’t been by there yet. I was thinking about driving past it to see if they bulldozed it or not,” he laughed. “It was like Groundhog Day. Wake up, pace around, talk on the phone.” Being back at the Heritage has also given Watney a unique perspective on how far the world has come in 10 months. He’s received the first of his two vaccinations and is confident the Tour is inching closer to normal. “With this much data and vaccines, my comfort level is slightly higher. The vaccines are easing people’s minds,” he said. “It seems like the world is heading in the right direction.” Compared to the last time Watney was on Hilton Head Island there are far more answers and some much-needed clarity.
A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos TagsAndrew CoyneCanadaDaily MailDan LaramiedaughterDeath with Dignitydiabetesdoctorseuthanasiahomicidehospitallethal injectionmediamoral beliefsnihilismnursespartysuicidevalues,Trending Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Medicine At the Euthanasia PartyWesley J. SmithMarch 16, 2019, 4:44 AM Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Recommended Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share A Canadian man with diabetes named Dan Laramie, whose illness had advanced to the point he would need amputations, decided to be lethally injected instead. He was killed by his doctor to cheers and applause from family and friends at his euthanasia party — at which photos were taken to commemorate the event, and perhaps, to send along with the story to the media. From the Daily Mail story:She said music was played an important part in the end-of-life celebration and he had even written 30 songs while he was in hospital.Speaking after the party [Laramie’s wife] Stef said: ‘I don’t really feel loss, we don’t need any sorrow at this time and I don’t know if that sounds rude.‘We had a really amazing relationship, if he had died in a way that we had no notion of it or by surprise then it would be a sorrowful thing. But I don’t think dying should be sorrowful.’His friends, sister, son, daughter, grandchildren and some of his nurses all came to the party.So, let me ask you, my dear readers, to ponder: If invited to such a “party,” would you go?It could be an agonizing decision. Attend, and it seems to me you become complicit in the suicide/homicide. You validate it. You affirm to the suicidal patient that his or her worst fears about continuing to live are true, such as: my life can never have meaning again; I will die in agony; I won’t be remembered well; I am a burden, etc.But refuse, and you could feel guilty for not being with your loved one at his or her death. Moreover, your family supporting the suicide/killing could ostracize you. “How dare you judge grandma! How dare you not be there to support her ‘choice’!”Getting Restless; Time to DieBack at the euthanasia party, people were getting restless, and so it was time to get on with the killing:Once Dan signed the papers and said he was ready, his family gathered at his bedside. Stef explained: ‘You could see sort of an energy in the room where people could feel that it was time.‘It was a really blessed evening. It happened a little later than we had planned so you could feel people getting a little bit restless. ‘The doctor came down, he was beside us and the nurse, the pair of them brought such light and beauty into this assistance.‘I can’t even tell you how beautiful the smile in his eyes was, he was so ready and it felt like everything we had talked about , that we planned about all these people made it the perfect exit.’She said after he received three injections, his eyes closed and she gave him a kiss.Stef said that Dan wanted a round of applause as he died so everybody cheered for him.‘The release of all that energy, it was really great. There were a lot of things that were very comforting and Dan just loved every minute of it.’These death events — this is far from the first such story about euthanasia parties — are being publicized in the service of normalizing euthanasia as the best way to die. It’s the real “death with dignity,” don’t you know? The goal, I believe, is to push society toward the point that having oneself killed becomes the expectation, not the exception.Is this kind of thing right or wrong? It depends on one’s values and moral beliefs. Some may see it as empowering, dying “his own way,” as the media continually put it.Others, as I do, see darkness and nihilism in cheering on death, an (often unintentional) abandonment of people at their darkest hour. Indeed, this story reminds me of Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne’s cogent warning against the culture of death from many years ago:A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured.Photo credit: Michael Discenza via Unsplash.Cross-posted at The Corner. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Culture & Ethics Wesley J. SmithChair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human ExceptionalismWesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.Follow WesleyProfileTwitterFacebook Share