Sports Outside the Beltway

Katherine Hull wins Navistar LPGA Classic

She had won two tournaments in Australia since her last LPGA win. From AP-

Australia’s Katherine Hull rallied to win the Navistar LPGA Classic on Sunday for her second career LPGA Tour victory, pulling ahead with a birdie on the par-5 17th and finishing with a par for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Brittany Lincicome.

Hull, the former Pepperdine player who also won the 2008 Canadian Women’s Open, finished at 19-under 269 on the links-style Senator layout at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Capitol Hill complex. After opening with a 68, she had three straight bogey-free 67s.

Lincicome closed with a 65. Third-round leader Cristie Kerr shot a 72 to tie for third at 17 under with Na Yeon Choi (69). Kerr played the first 50 holes in 20 under, then was 3 over on the final 22.

Kerr has as much as a five-shot lead during Saturday’s 3rd round. Hull is a very good golfer. She was second at the Women’s British Open last August. I expect her one day to take the mantle away from Karrie Webb as to who is the best Australian female golfer. Right now, you could make an argument it is Hull.

One of my favorite players, Brittany Lincicome, was runner-up for the second time this year in a Alabama based LPGA event. She lost a playoff to Se Ri Pak in Mobile last May.

Also blogging the Navistar- Hound Dog and The Constructivist at Mostly Harmless. TC points out if not for three shots, we could have had a Double Yang weekend. Amy Yang finished fifth at the Navistar and YE Yang won the Korean Open.


Michelle Wie wins the CN Canadian Women’s Open

She shot a final round 70 to finish three shots ahead of Kristy McPherson, Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, and Jee Young Lee.

Wie opened Sunday tied for the lead at minus ten with Shin. Both golfers made an early bogey to fall back to minus nine.
This allowed Pettersen, Lee, and a red hot Kyeong Bae to get within one of the lead.

On the 8th hole, Wie got the lead to herself and never was tied again. She made a birdie putt from less than ten feet as Shin couldn’t get it up and down from a bunker. Michelle was up by two with ten holes to go.

Wie birdied holes 13, 14, and 15 to open up a four-shot lead. The 13th and 14th holes were par 5′s. Shin and Wie both made birdie from less than ten feet. On the 14th Wie hit her second shot into a greenside bunker and made a mediocre sand shot. No problem- Wie ran in a twenty footer for birdie as Shin scrambled for par. Her third birdie was a chip-in from just off the back of the green. She made a great par on 16 after a bad drive and an approach shot into a bunker. She did make a three-putt bogey on 17 but 18 was a safe walk in the park for her. A good drive and approach, two putts for par and the victory. Wie now has two LPGA Tour wins, but neither happened in the United States. Her first win was the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico last enough.

Curiously enough my family ate the exact same dinner, Chicken Parmesan served with Penne pasta, when Wie won both her tournaments. I make this dinner on average about every six weeks, but usually not with Penne. If Michelle Wie reads this, she may ask me to make of this food when she’s in contention. Cue the sarcastic laughter.

Today’s win was as impressive as her first. She played steady golf and made timely birdies. A television announcer said the win will put Wie at #7 in the Rolex rankings which are already a crowded fight for #1.

Other comments

*- Will Golf World magazine put Wie on its cover this week? Ai Miyazato has won 5 LPGA tournaments this year, Yani Tseng won two major championships, but GW never once put them on the cover. Instead we the magazine’s subscribers got to see Anthony Kim and Arjun Atwel featured.

I think Golf World won’t take a pass on a Wie cover but its editors and writers have proved to be dumb and clueless before and they could do it again.

*- At no time during the golf broadcast was a mention made of the cheating controversy I blogged about today and yesterday. This is a little surprising because announcer Judy Rankin has been known to check the internet and make mention of something she read.

*- Suzann Pettersen again couldn’t make birdie putts when in contention. She had four or five good to very good chances at least for birdie today.

*- LPGA’s live scoring had Jee Young Lee making an eagle on ten and pulling to one behind Wie. It was a mistake, Lee only made a birdie. Lee’s run at the title was spoiled by back to back bogeys on 11 and 12.

*- *- Will Jiyai Shin retake #1 in the Rolex rankings? She, Ai Miyazato, and Cristie Kerr are closely grouped and Shin finished 2nd today where as her rivals finished T15 and T8 respectively.

Shin remains #4 in the world rankings behind Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, and Suzann Pettersen.

Also blogging about Wie’s win- Hound Dog and The Constructivist at Mostly Harmless


LPGA Tour to conduct cheating inquiry

Steve Elling at CBS Sports has more on the incident at the CN Canadian Open which I wrote about yesterday.

Initially, the LPGA seemed satisfied with the player actions and sanctions.

“No one with the LPGA was privy to any discussions between the players and caddies in advance of the players’ efforts to seek out a rules official to explain the situation,” a spokesman said Saturday. “We know only that the players came forward, admitted their issue and received the appropriate result based on the rules of golf.”

However, that stance has clearly changed.

LPGA communications chief David Higdon confirmed Sunday morning to that the tour intends to interview all the parties involved and then mull a possible course of action.

“We have treated this situation very seriously, and have or will speak to all principles involved,” Higdon said in an email Sunday morning. “Yes, we are looking very closely at it.”

The LPGA has had issues in the past with South Korean natives, who have been accused by other players of bending rules by conversing with friends or parents and receiving advice in their native tongue, among other perceived violations. The LPGA at one point put players on notice that such conversations and interaction would not be tolerated. One longtime LPGA caddie with his own blog site claimed this weekend that Korean players have been getting away with rules violations for years, causing some to accuse him of racism.

The LPGA has to investigate what happened, and if Ahn and Chung’s actions were deliberate, they should be suspended from the tour. Ryan at Waggle Room now writes

On Saturday evening, Waggle Room learned that it was Ahn’s caddie who told the story direct to Smich but may not be willing to share details publicly for fear of being shunned in the golf community.

Ahn’s caddy could be in position of causing great harm to a pro golfer’s career and reputation. It is very understandable why he wouldn’t want to talk publicly.

One last comment about Smich. He has a long history of making derogatory comments about the South Korean players. People who have read his blog for any length of time, would have a basis to say he is a racist. I think his anger at being fired by Mi Hyun Kim 11 years ago has made him very bitter and his lack of success as a caddie of late,(He hasn’t been close to a winning bag in all the time he’s blogged, and if I checked, the top 20 finishes of his players in that time can be counted on one hand easily) caused his feelings to turn to hate or racism. His outspokenness has undoubtedly caused these players also not to want to hire him.

Interestingly enough I checked Smich’s archives, he worked for Ahn once at the Wegmans. So he has caddied for both Ahn and Chung in the past.

At the CN Canadian Open, Michelle Wie has a 2-shot lead with 5 holes to go.

Hat tip- Geoff Shackelford

Update- Golf writer and blogger Bob Weeks has more

A source told me on Sunday that the two players allegedly knew about the mix up by the time they reaced the scorer’s tent and discussed it in Korean, agreeing not to bring it up. The source then alleged that Ahn’s caddie also knew about the situation and threatened to turn them in.

Reportedly, the players waited two hours after their final round before contacting the LPGA Tour to report the incident, calling from their hotel.

Weeks is a much more credible source than Larry Smich. Chung and Ahn are in for big trouble.


Did LPGA Golfers Shi Hyun Ahn and Il Mi Chung cheat at the CN Canadian Open?

LPGA Blogger and Caddie Larry Smich wrote the following-

Finally, caught in the act! All this time, I’ve been detailing cheating by the Koreans and been called a racist and more for my observations. Even been taken to the woodshed by the head honcho. Well yesterday, it all became evident that I was spot on. Did you notice that Shi Hyun Ahn and Ilmi Chung were disqualified? The reason is that they both played the wrong ball on their final hole and not correcting the infraction before signing their cards, to put it mildly.

Here is what I’ve heard of the alleged incident. Both balls were in the fairway. Ahn missed the green and Ilmi hit hers on. Ahn chipped it close and tapped in for par. This is where it all begins. Apparently, Ahn noticed that this was not her ball and conversed in Korean with Ilmi. In the mean time, at least one caddie in the group noticed it also but did not say anything. They finished the hole, went to the scoring tent, checked the scores and signed their cards. Somewhere, either before or after going to the tent, Ahn told her caddie (a Nationwide looper and only working for her this week) “You did not see anything”. As of right now, I do not know who owned up and went to the officials. The third player in the group was oblivious to the situation and was not involved. BTW, Ahn shot 72 and Chung a 76.

Before I go any further I’ll give some background on Smich and the golfers he is accusing. He has been an LPGA caddie for over 30 years. In that time, he has had three winning bags. The last of which was with Mi Hyun Kim in 1999. Shortly after that win, Kim fired Smich.

Smich has worked for other South Korean players, but the last was over two years ago. He did work for Chung at some point in the middle of the last decade.

Anyone who reads Smich’s blog knows he doesn’t like the Korean players. Ryan at Waggle Room uses the word vendetta towards how Smich writes about players from South Korea. In 2007, Smich also accused LPGA player Young Kim of cheating. Most of the time Smich doesn’t name players when he makes cheating allegations.

Ahn is a one-time winner on the LPGA Tour and was the 2004 Rookie of the Year. She is a looker, and is nicknamed Cinderella. I get lots of hits at my home blog from people looking either for Ahn photos or are looking to find out what golfer is nicknamed Cinderella.

At the 2009 LPGA Championship, a golf ball of Ahn’s struck and killed a bird.

Chung has never won on the LPGA Tour and since the retirement of Pearl Sinn, I believe she is the oldest South Korean born player on the LPGA Tour.

Ryan at Waggle Room apparently got someone to corroborate part of what Smich says(Remember he didn’t see it happen)

We have learned of a second account of the situation. The second account is all the same until the green.

When Ahn and Chung realized what had happened, Chung’s caddy approached Downey’s caddy and said, “We have a bit of a problem, but I’m not saying anything.” Downey’s caddy went into the scoring tent. Ahn and Chung signed for their scores. Downey’s caddy was prepared to turn in Ahn and Chung, which then prompted their seeking of LPGA officials for a ruling and their certain disqualification.

The LPGA’s Mike Scanlan also made the following comment to Ryan-

“The players sought out a rules official after their round to explain the situation and were subsequently disqualified.

“No one with the LPGA was privy to any discussions between the players and caddies in advance of the players’ efforts to seek out a rules official to explain the situation. We know only that the players came forward, admitted their issue and received the appropriate result based on the Rules of Golf.”

Bob Weeks, who is also blogging on the incident, went looking for Larry Smich at the tournament. Interestingly enough, Smich couldn’t be found. The golfer who he was caddying for, Stephanie Loudon, had her husband carrying her bag for the third round.

At the moment, the golf tournament is on television, and so far as I know, no mention has been made of the Ahn and Chung incident.

Deliberate cheating in professional golf is very serious and not unheard of. A Latin American player was suspended by the PGA Tour around 40 years ago. Jane Blalock was suspended for a year by the LPGA in 1972. That was till she filed a antitrust lawsuit. The accusations against Blalock was probably the sport’s biggest cheating scandal of the last 50 years. She was one of the tour’s stars at the time. What we have today involves two fairly obscure players. I don’t know if we’ll ever learn what did happen. The golf media rather write repetitive article after repetitive article on Tiger Woods than give the LPGA even five minutes of their time.

On a side note, Michelle Wie is leading the Canadian Open. Should she hold on to win, the LPGA attention deficit might decrease at least for one week.

Note- The first photo above is Ahn and the second is Chung.


LPGA Tour to add Taiwan tour stop in 2011

This news isn’t very surprisingly in light of these facts

1- Yani Tseng is at present holder of two of the tour’s major championships and ranked as one of the top five rated players in the world. Tseng is from Taiwan
2- The increasing popularity of golf in Asia.

Of course people continue to grumble about the lack of United States based tour stops on the LPGA Tour. These people are being short sighted.

1- Any tournaments for the tour is good news

2- The LPGA could be close to bankruptcy at the moment. When a tournament is played, the tour takes a cut of the purse for operating expenses. I heard from a reliable source that the LPGA needs 30 tournaments a year to stay solvent. At the moment the LPGA schedule for next year looks like it will be under 30 events like it has been since 2009.

The LPGA is losing at least one United States LPGA event for 2011, the Jamie Farr, as it goes on hiatus for a year. Also CVS will no longer sponsor a California tour stop. That leaves 12 LPGA events in the United States, plus the foreign events. As it stands, the tour will visit Singapore, Thailand, Mexico(at least 3 times), Canada, England, France, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea next year with possible additions of Brazil and China.

The LPGA is in trouble right now. Nationalistic based pride and Asian paranoia need to be shelved.

Hat tip- Ryan at Waggle Room who apparently hasn’t gotten the memo about CVS not renewing its sponsorship.


Breakdowns- Martin Kaymer wins the PGA Championship

The German golfer made a 18 to 24-inch putt for bogey on the third playoff hole to defeat Bubba Watson. This was Kaymer’s first ever victory in the United States.

Before Kaymer’s win today, he had six career wins on the European circuit and two top ten finishes in major championships. His win wasn’t something out of the blue. A lot of people would have had him in their top 50 picks or even top 25 this week.

What will have people talking about this PGA won’t be Kaymer’s win but what happened to Dustin Johnson at the 72nd hole. Johnson was -12 for the tournament and one shot ahead of Kaymer and Watson when he hit his final tee shot.

Johnson, a long and wild driver, hit his tee shot into the gallery to the right of the fairway. His ball ended up on a sandy piece of ground where members of the gallery had been walking all week instead of in the deep rough. He played his 2nd shot and eventually missed a seven-foot par putt. A three-way looked to be in the making.

But not so fast.

The sandy piece of ground was actually a bunker and while preparing to hit his 2nd shot, Dustin Johnson grounded his club in the bunker. That’s a two-stroke penalty.

Here’s the local rule or supplementary rules in question. These were posted in the clubhouse and player’s locker room-

1. Bunkers: All areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers will be played as bunkers (hazards), whether or not they have been raked. This will mean that many bunkers positioned outside of the ropes, as well as some areas of bunkers inside the ropes, close to the rope line, will likely include numerous footprints, heel prints and tire tracks during the play of the Championship. Such irregularities of surface are a part of the game and no free relief will be available from these conditions.

Note 1: The sand area in front, left and behind No. 5 green in the later water hazard is NOT a bunker (do not move stones).

Note 2: Where necessary, blue dots define the margin of a bunker.

The sand area wasn’t raked and had footprints in it.

After his round was over, Johnson conferred with rules officials. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty and fell from a tie for first to tie for 5th.

2010 has been a heartbreaking year for Johnson. He led the U.S. Open going into the final round before shooting a final round 82. Will he be able to mentally recover from his two disasters. Off the top of my head the last time a golfer had these kind of chances to win a major in one year and come up dramatically short twice, is Mike Reid in 1989. Radar never won another PGA Tour event after nearly winning the 89 Masters and PGA Championship.

The bunker Johnson hit it into has already been labeled ‘Dustin’s Dustbin’ by Jason Sobel of ESPN. Today’s 18th hole finish has also been compared to Robert DeVicenzo’s incorrect scorecard signing at the 1968 Masters. A golf historian like myself, will also recall Jackie Pung being disqualified at the 1957 U.S. Women’s Open after signing for an incorrect score. Otherwise Pung would have won.

How about Mark Roe’s disqualification at the 2003 British Open? It happened after the 3rd round after he and his playing partner Jesper Parnevik signed for the right scores but on the wrong scorecards. If not for the DQ, Roe would have opened the final round two or three* out of the lead.

My opinion- Johnson broke the rule inadvertently, but the penalty is legitimate. A player needs to be aware of where he is on the golf course. What happened is unfortunate, but the rule about grounding clubs in a hazard has a purpose. Bunkers and water are there to penalize a golfer either with a penalty or a more difficult shot than if he had placed it on the fairway or green.

A couple of people think Johnson got screwed. First Jason Sobel writes-

What I hate about this is the inconsistency of it. If Johnson had the same situation take place on his third hole of the second round, chances are no cameras would have picked it up and/or cared, so DJ would have unknowingly kept going without assessing himself a stroke.

It’s not fair. It’s just not.

No Jason it would have been unfair if Johnson got away with a rules violation and went on to win the tournament. He broke the rule. Do you understand the concepts of integrity and honesty?

Ryan at Waggleroom screams in a headline that Johnson got screwed. I already said he didn’t but will take aim at something else that blogger wrote-

Where were the blue dots for Dustin Johnson? There didn’t appear any on TV.

Oh Ryan they were probably wiped out by all the people in the gallery who walked through the area. Every golfer in the field had to play without the dots, not just Johnson.

Other notes-

Bubba Watson played the final playoff hole disastrously but almost got away with it. He hit his 2nd shot in the water, then his next(and 4th) shot in the sand trap. Needing a miracle bogey holeout from the bunker, Watson nearly got it. His blast hit the flagstick but didn’t go in the hole.

1995 PGA Champion Steve Elkington pulled into a tie for the lead but played the last two holes bogey-bogey to finish tied with Dustin Johnson and Jason Duffner for 5th. Elk who is 47 years old and hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 1999, comes up with strong PGA finishes even if he doesn’t do much else in that particular year. Like in 2005 when he finished second to Phil Mickelson.

Nick Watney had a three shot lead going into today before shooting a final round 81. He made double bogey on the opening hole and never recovered.

Zach Johnson and Rory Mcilroy also had legit chances to win today. The finale of this year’s PGA reminded me some of the 1996 version when 3rd round leader Russ Cochran also came apart on Sunday and at least six people(Steve Elkington being one of them.) had legit chances to win it on the back nine. That year’s tournament went to a playoff, which was won by Mark Brooks over Kenny Perry. Like Bubba Watson, Perry butchered the 18th hole in the playoff.

As Bubba Watson putted for birdie on the 2nd playoff hole, CBS had its on screen log right over where the hole was. I really hate obstructions placed on the screen by broadcasters when live sports action is taking place.

*- I’ve read conflicting reports about how close Roe was to the lead after 54 holes. The article I link to says three shots, but I’ve found another that said two.

Update- Here’s a video of Johnson’s golf ball in the sand.

Two interesting things

1 An official is standing near the golf ball when the video starts. Where did they go as Johnson went about playing the shot like it wasn’t in a bunker? Mark Wilson of the PGA explains what happened, including who the official was. I still hold to the opinion Johnson was at fault for not being aware. He had ample opportunity to know the rules, and to ask for a ruling if he was unsure.

2 CBS Announncer describes the location as being in one of ‘those thousand plus bunkers’. Nantz and company then got amnesia after Johnson played his shot and stayed that way as the ruling was made.

former USGA Executive Director, Frank Hannigan is very critical of CBS-

Another sin on CBS was not having a bona fide rules official in the booth to speak for the committee immediately. The USGA has the now familiar bow-tied image of its David Fay in the main TV booth. Had the Johnson sadness happened at a US Open the world would have known about it instantly. Moreover, in the USGA mode of operations Fay might very well have interceded by warning a rules official on the spot by radio that Johnson should be warned he is in a bunker.

Nick Faldo hemmed and hawed, not willing to tell Nantz, Feherty and Co. to get on with it. I saw Faldo win six majors. I have no doubt that in the same position Faldo would have sought out an official and asked “What is this thing I am standing in?”

The stakes were high and Johnson didn’t ask for help. It is his own darn fault.

Hat tip- Geoff Shackelford


Royal Birkdale and Taiwanese golfers or Yani Tseng and Mr. Lu

Yani Tseng from Taiwan leads the Women’s British at Royal Birkdale by four shots with 36 holes to play. Should she win, Tseng would already have amassed three of the four major championships in Women’s professional golf.Yani Tseng

I won’t be conceding the tournament to Tseng quite. Just two years ago, Lorena Ochoa was on a roll and was leading the LPGA Championship by one shot after 36 holes. One golf scribe at the time was all but ready to crown Ochoa at that point. Ochoa ultimately finished third, to Yani Tseng.

Royal Birkdale is an interesting place for Tseng to be going for her third major. Thirty-nine years ago, or 1971 to be precise, the Open Championship was played at Birkdale. It was won by Lee Trevino. The golfer who finished second by one shot that week was Lu Liang Huan. Lu, who is still alive today at age 75, is from Taiwan just like Yani Tseng.

Lu, or as Open Championship fans in 1971 nicknamed him Mr. Lu, was an obscure golfer to even knowledgeable golf people at the time. His three career wins were all in Asia before the 1971 Open Championship.

Mr. Lu’s obscurity didn’t prevent him from being a fan favorite that week in 1971. He didn’t speak much English, but through tips of his straw cap and smiles to the gallery, he had many people in England and through television cheering for him that week.

A week after the 1971 Open Championship, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club issued an invitation to Mr. Lu. It said- “come back to this country as often as you like and we hope you’ll bring more fine golfers from the Far East.”

Many fine golfers have come to the United Kingdom and the United States since then. Unfortunately, the attitude of people has regressed since then. Asian golfers, even Asian American golfers, are seen as a threat by the media and or fans. No one was bothered by Mr. Lu’s poor English in 1971, so I have trouble understanding the attitude of some people today. Trevino and Mr. Lu

I wasn’t following pro golf in 1971. At the time I was ten-years-old and more interested in New York Mets baseball. What I learned about the 1971 Open Championship is through media accounts at the time. Even these are hard to find.

What I do know about that Open Championship is-

1 Trevino and Mr. Lu were paired together for the last 18 holes.
2 Lee Trevino made double bogey at 17
3 Mr. Lu and Trevino both made closing birdies on 18
4 As he played 18, an errant golf shot of Mr. Lu’s struck a person in the gallery injuring the woman. After the Open Championship, Mr. Lu paid for the woman and her husband to visit Taiwan.

Mr. Lu never again seriously contended for a Major Championship. He did however win the French Open the following week and in 1972 partnered with Hsieh Min-Nan to win the World Cup. When his professional career was over, Mr. Lu had at least twenty professional wins to his credit but he is probably still best remembered for his runner-up finish at the 1971 Open Championship.

So far as I know, Mr. Lu is still alive today at age seventy-four.


The U.S. Women’s Golf Open is underway

It is being played at the Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania today through Sunday. The defending Champion is Eun Hee Ji.

The third Women’s golf major of 2010 is being played on one of the toughest golf courses in the world. Oakmont doesn’t just feature small greens and tight fairways, the norm of any USGA professional championship, but treacherously fast greens. I first watched a major played on this golf course in 1978. In 32 years of golf viewing, I’ve never seen a tougher course for pros to putt on.

Ji is the defending champion, but she isn’t playing very well coming into the tournament. Cristie Kerr has won the last two LPGA events she competed in, including a romp at the LPGA Championship. Which was the last major championship played. Many are naming Kerr the favorite this week and I won’t say that’s a bad choice. Still blogger The Constructivist has some valid points about Kerr coming into this week.

Um, dude, Kerr had chances to win 2 majors last year and let them slip through her fingers. Nobody stepped up to challenge her in the LPGA Championship for any serious length of time. Kerr still has to prove she’s a closer in majors. That and the fact that she won at Locust Hill with a leaky driver–something that Oakmont will penalize much more severely–are the doubts that any knowledgeable writer should be emphasizing about Kerr’s chances to get her 2nd Open, 3rd major, and 15th career victory on the LPGA.

Hound Dog, Mike, and Sal Johnson also have done previews for this week. Sal has put together an excellent guide on all the players in the tournament. Why can’t the USGA or LPGA do this kind of work? Sal is about the only person besides this person(and his not perfect golf memory) who tries to uphold the LPGA’s stats and history prior to the Annika Sorenstam era.

The Women’s Golf Open isn’t getting a tenth of the attention the recently passed Men’s Open at Pebble Beach got. This is normal, and has nothing to do with the lack of American winners or the Asians overrunning the tour complaints so often heard till you become nauseous. Four South Koreans won golf tournaments in 2007, and I was one of the few to notice. Golf World’s Ron Sirak is in attendance this after his golf publication in a gross act of golf reporting dereliction of duty, didn’t cover the LPGA Championship in its magazine or even preview this week’s major. Would you believe Golf World didn’t put out a magazine at all last week? Check it out yourself.

Golf World isn’t alone. Ryan Ballangee at Waggleroom is too busy writing a post wondering if Arnold Palmer is looking at someone’s boobs. The state of reporting on the LPGA is just horrendous.

My picks this week. Inbee Park, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open champ, has been quietly playing some of the best golf in 2010. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if she won again on Sunday. Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi, and Hee Kyung Seo would be other top five choices.


Sun Young Yoo wins the Sybase Match Play Championship

The player nicknamed ‘Course Clown’ won for the first time on the LPGA Tour. From AP-

Sun Young Yoo won the Sybase Match Play Championship for her first LPGA Tour victory, beating Angela Stanford 3 and 1 on Sunday at Hamilton Farm.Sun Young Yoo

Yoo, the 23-year-old South Korean player in her fifth LPGA Tour season, won the 13th and 14th holes with pars and took a 2-up lead with a 15-foot putt for her first birdie of the match on the par-3 16th.

The match ended when Stanford missed her birdie putt and conceded Yoo’s birdie.

Yoo’s victory was the eighth straight by a foreign player and the 25th in the last 26 events. Michelle Wie in- the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November — is the lone American winner since Cristie Kerr won the Michelob Ultra Open last May.


Yoo, who earned $375,000 from the $1.5 million purse, also beat No. 32 Karen Stupples, No. 5 Kerr, No. 12 Song-Hee Kim and No. 4 Yani Tseng.

Shin won the third-place match, beating Yang 3 and 2.

In the final on a cloudy, muggy afternoon, Yoo won the par-3 third with a par, then halved the next seven holes, with the players both bogeying the par-4 ninth.

Stanford took the lead with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 — her only birdies of the match — before handing Yoo the 13th with a bogey.

Ironically the two golfers Yoo beat in the finals and semi-finals- Jiyai Shin and Angela Stanford, took part in a 3-way playoff with her last September. Shin was the winner then.

Shin will maintain her #1 standing in the world. The next official LPGA is in two weeks. It is almost every week mode for the tour now.

Yoo was a deserving winner who had a very difficult path to the tournament title. The Golf Channel stuck to repeating cliches and information anyone can find on Angela Stanford out of the LPGA guide book, rather than tell us something original about the players today. Why is Yoo nicknamed ‘Course Clown’? What makes her funny?

At last year’s pro-am in Danville, Chuck Rydell, an employee of the tournament sponsor Longs Drugs, was paired with a young South Korean who spoke little English. He said he spent an enjoyable round teaching her American curse words.

This year, his pro partner was Sun Young Yoo, a 21-year-old who is known among the South Koreans as the course clown. She made Rydell laugh when the windshield in her cart flew off. Without missing a beat, Yoo said, ”Maybe we are going to lose tires next.”

Not a peep about it from the television announcer instead we heard about how competitive Stanford is and how she doesn’t quit etc. Like quitting non competitive people play the LPGA every day. When you hear someone say the Korean golfers have personality, the real meaning is- ‘The golf media can’t be bothered looking for players with a personality.’

Also writing on Yoo’s win- Hound Dog


Se Ri Pak wins the Bell Micro LPGA Classic

The Korean Golf Queen notched her 25th career victory today. She defeated Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome on the third hole of sudden death. It was Pak’s first win since 2007.

Today’s finish wasn’t what anyone expected when play ended yesterday. Oh Lincicome, Pak, and Pettersen began the day tied for the lead but they were expected to play 18 holes. Their rounds began but thunderstorms came through Mobile Alabama area shortly after 10 a.m. local time. Play was suspended and eventually the decision was made to shorten the tournament to 54 holes.Se Ri Pak

Which meant sudden death would decide the winner. As has been the LPGA’s custom for 3 or 4 years, a playoff is conducted on the 18th hole only. The 18th at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, The Crossings, is a uphill par 4. Due to the heavy rains, which began Saturday night, the hole played long. Pettersen, Pak, and Lincicome are all above average in driving distance, so it could be said had an advantage. Except that Se Ri Pak was a career 5-0 in LPGA playoffs before today.

The first time around 18 saw all three players make par. On the 2nd hole of sudden death after each player hit a good drive, things began to deviate. Pettersen missed the green left, Pak flew the green into the back bunker, and Lincicome put her ball on the green but well right.

Pettersen did not hit a good 3rd shot at all. Pak’s bunker shot went about 6 feet past the hole, Lincicome missed her birdie putt. Pettersen missed her par putt but Pak made a clutch putt. Lincicome got par, so she and Se Ri went back to the 18th for a 3rd time.

Pak didn’t hit a good drive. She actually found a fairway bunker. Lincicome found the fairway and again Se Ri looked to be in trouble. Totally unfazed, she hit her approach to about 10 feet. Brittany on the other hand, had her approach shot find the front bunker. She blasted to 25-30 feet past the hole.

You got to give Lincicome credit. She made the long par putt. That put the tournament squarely on Se Ri who now faced almost the same putt she had on the second hole of sudden death, except it was a few feet longer in length and for a birdie now. Pak made it.

A few assorted notes

*- Is Se Ri Pak revving up for next month’s LPGA Championship? She’s won that tournament in 4-year intervals starting in 1998. She won it again in 2002 and 2006 and next comes…..2010. If you believe in that hocus pocus.

I still think Se Ri will become the first LPGA golfer to win the same tournament six times. That is as long as the Jamiie Farr continues to be played. It’s contract with the LPGA ends this year.

*- Who will be on Golf World’s cover this week- Se Ri or Adam Scott the winner of the Texas Open? When Pak won the Michelob Light in 2004 and garnered the last point needed for HOF induction, GWorld put Joey Sindelar on the cover. Only last month the magazine the winner of the Kraft Nabisco(Yani Tseng) for Houston Open winner Anthony Kim when it came time for their cover. When Ai Miyazato won for the 3rd time this year and Lorena Ochoa retired, Golf World elected to put Hunter Mahan on the cover as part of its Players Championship preview. So I’d bet on Scott or some feature story. Like Ted Schulz’s hopes for the Champions Tour. Golf World’s coverage of the LPGA is pathetic.

Someone might point out that Golf World puts men on their covers for sales purposes. Golf World is not a news stand publication.

*- Pettersen has another ‘just missed’ chance at a LPGA win. Since winning 5 times in 2007, the Norwegian has only been able to notch one win. In the process Pettersen has had over a half dozen excellent opportunities but hasn’t been able to get it done.

A win today by Pettersen would have knocked Ji Yai off the top of the Rolex Rankings. Maybe I missed the Golf Channel announcers explanation., but I assume it would have been Pettersen at the top then. There is a very slim margin separating the top four women golfers in the world at this moment.

*- For the sixth time in six tournaments this year, an Asian golfer has won on the LPGA Tour. Lincicome’s finish today is one of three second place finishes American golfers have this year.

*- Golf Channel’s announcers in order to build up Lincicome(who I like by the way) emphasized her brilliant shot to win the Kraft Nabisco last year and that her three LPGA wins, includes a Match Play event, and that her victories all came in prestigious events.

As brilliant as Lincicome’s shot was, Se Ri Pak hit an even greater one to win the 2006 LPGA Championship. She hit a 3-utility club on the first hole of sudden death to 3 inches. That trumps Lincicome’s approach to 18 which was inside of five feet for eagle.

I’m not really surprised that Pak’s shot isn’t remembered. When golf writers talked comeback player of the year in 2006, Pak was universally forgotten. Se Ri hit one of the greatest shots in LPGA history but no one seems to remember, and that’s sad. Golf Channel’s announcers had no problem remembering the details of Lincicome’s Match Play win, which was played exactly one week after Se Ri won the 2006 LPGA.

How prestigious can a tournament be if it only exists for three years? That’s how long the non-majors, the Ginn Open and the HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship lasted before going belly up. They were nice wins for Brittany, but should a tournament with so little history be considered a prestigious win?

Also commenting on Se Ri’s win- Hound Dog, The Constructivist, Brent Kelly, and my fellow South Floridian Randall Mell. Randall hasn’t forgotten Pak’s winning shot at the 2006 LPGA.

Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.