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Major Redemption for Suzann Petterson

Susann Petterson using a borrowed Ping Doc putter scorched the back nine in 32 shots to win the McDonalds Championship by a single shot over Karrie Webb. Webb finished second for the second year in a row. Webb and third round leader Na On Min also shot 32’s on the back nine in one of the most compelling finishes I witnessed in a while. On Min managed to overcome three bogeys in a row on the front nine with four straight birdies on the back to finish alone in third. A very very enjoyable tournament to watch.

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Susann Petterson used a borrowed putter to shoot a back nine 32 to win the LPGA McDonald’s Championship by one shot over Karrie Webb and two over 18 year old Na On Min.  The back nine at Bulle Rock was some of the most compelling golf I’ve seen this year.

Petterson borrowed the Ping Doc putter from one of her amateur partners Tuesday and never bothered to return it. She certainly put it to good use,especially Sunday when Karrie Webb mounted a charge with a 32 of her own on the back nine.  Brushing off the final four hole melt-down at the Kraft Nabisco, Petterson hit the shots and made the putts to win her first major.  Webb settled for second place for the second year in a row. 

Just over a month removed from the melt-down at the Kraft Nabisco, Petterson proved that she learned from the experience by making key birdies down the stretch on her way to a final round score of -5. The wayward driving and course management issues which marked her play at the Kraft Nabisco were completely abscent. Petterson methodically found her way from tee to green throughout the back nine despite some serious pressure from her opponents.

Karrie Webb playing in the group ahead knew she had to make up some ground and did carding four birdies on the back nine and making a key par save on the 16th hole after finding the fairway bunker off the tee and then closing with two birdies on 17 and 18. Webb said, "I knew what happened to her at Kraft, and I just knew I needed to keep putting pressure on her. She obviously executed very well coming down the stretch, and she should be very proud of herself. It shows a lot of courage and guts and trust in her ability."

Na On Min, the third round leader, appeared to fall victim to the nerves expected of an 18 year old non-exempt player leading her first Major on Sunday with three bogies in a row on the front side.  I sat in my chair nodding the knowing nod of the wise sure that she was self destructing on the way to a final round 80 something.  But the kid righted herself and also torched the back nine with four birdies in a row on the way to her own 32.  So much for the wise omniscient nodding guy watching on television.  Impressive does little to credit the ability of young Na to play a shot, put the result behind her and play the next shot.  Amazing ability to stay in the moment. 

However, the trophy and the day would belong to Petterson, "I finally proved to all of you that I can actually put it all together and take a major. So now, I probably don’t have to get that question again." Once again this weekend showed just how marvelous the talent is on the LPGA Tour.  Now if they could just get the marketing machine cranked up to get the word out about the quantity and quality of the players they put on display.

Photo : Getty Images

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5 Things We Learned: Thursday at the U.S. Open

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I’ve posted on social media that I’m not convinced that the viewing public is ready for three U.S. Open tournaments at Pinehurst #2, over a twelve-year span. I like the course and I love the sandhills, but the deuce is not a visually-stunning course. The topography, with the exception of holes four and five, is flattish. Flattish not in an Old Course way. Flattish in a where’s-the-movement way. I have erred in judgment, and it is possible that the television audiences will take to Donald Ross’ masterpiece in a manner that I did not anticipate.

This much I do know: many players took to the course with great affection on Thursday, aka Day One. Scores got as low as 65, and twenty golfers finished day one under par. This was not an easy day for scoring, either. With the exception of holes nine and ten, no other hole location could be labeled center of green. Competitors were forced to play to safe sides of putting surfaces, and encourage the putter to make a statement. Certainly, the USGA could make the targets even more precise, but chances are, they won’t.

What to expect? Hard to say, but five things that we do know, are elaborated below. Welcome to mid-June, and another US Open championship at Pinehurst. Welcome to five things we learned on day one of the 2024 US Open.

1. Is Patty Ice chillin’ again?

It’s hard to fathom that Patrick Cantlay has not won since August of 2022. In 2023, his performance for Team USA’s Ryder Cup side was decent, but not glowing nor glorious. With the rise of new talents, Captain America 2.0 has been relegated to an afterthought. It used to be When will he win a major and now it’s Will he win again. This week at Pinehurst, Cantlay might answer both questions with vigorous affirmation.

Cantlay was nearly flawless across the gem of Moore county. His 7:40 tee time was a boon, as the course was soft, windless, and untrampled. His only bogey came at the 15th hole, where his tee ball found sand and he was unable to get up and down for the sandy. His six birdies came at the first and last holes of the day, along with the fifth, sixth, eighth, and eleventh holes.

Solid Quote:  “I got the ball up and down on 7, made a bunch of putts inside, eight feet. I think around this golf course, you’re going to leave yourself putts inside eight feet. That four- to eight-foot range. It important that you hole out. I did that well today.”

2. The Oh-Bear stakes his claim

After we all mispronounced his name for the first six months of his professional career, we go to know the Oh-Bear when he won on tour and then earned statement victories at the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy. On Thursday at number two, Ludvig Aberg signed for a 66 and reminded us all that he is a strengthening force in the world of golf. Aberg won last September on the DP World Tour, then again in November on the PGA Tour. In April, the Swedish lad posted a brilliant, runner-up finish at Augusta National, in the year’s first major championship.

Thursday saw a sextet of birdies wander onto Ludvig’s symphony. Like Cantlay, he made birdie at the first and the last. Holes five, nine, eleven, and twelve also surrendered stroke-savers. His hiccoughs came on the par-three sixth and the par-four fourteenth, where he made bogey. Aberg never appears to lose control nor confidence, and that system will serve him well over the next three days. Like Cantlay, Aberg will tee off in the afternoon wave on Friday. Both will see different course conditions, and their ability to adapt will serve them quite well.

Solid Quote: “Yeah, I think staying very disciplined is important. There’s a lot of pins where you don’t really think about going for. So me and Joe, my caddie, we have a lot of good conversations about certain areas that you try to hit it on.”

3. Peacock rides two eagles to three-under 67

Matthieu Pavon’s last name might translate as peacock from French, but eagles were his bird of choice on day one at Pinehurst. The first-time winner on the PGA Tour made but one birdie on the day, on the par-four eighth hole. He had twice as many bogeys, but that’s not his story. His day was made on the 5th and 10th holes, the two long holes at Pinehurst number two.

In his words, Pavon made his four best swings on the par five holes. He converted both eagle putts to save four more strokes, and ended his day at three-under par. Pavon transitioned from the courses of Europe to the layouts of the USA this season, and his learning curve has softened with each week. Pinehurst will provide as much challenge as any peacock needs, but this bird is already playing with house money.

Solid Quote: “It’s more about seeing breaks because when it’s slower, when you have less break, the ball doesn’t move as much as here. Here it’s really — it’s steep, it’s fast, it’s grainy, so the ball moves quite a lot. You have a lot of curves on the green.”

4. Rory roars to top

Can you say Clean card? Rory McIlroy went 18 holes at Pinehurst #2 without a bogey. He drove the ball supremely well, and putted with surgical precision. We all know the good news that came out of his personal world this week, so we can put Rory the person on the back burner, and focus entirely on Rory the golfer.

McIlroy was in the featured, afternoon triumvirate, with the two most recent major champions. Do you think he had something to prove? Aye. While the Masters champion managed a 71, and the PGA champion posted 70, Rory was the class of the 1:14 tee time. His birdies at four and five gave him early confidence, and his work on the inward half boosted him into his tie at the top. A birdie at ten restarted the momentum, and the Northern Irishman closed with two more birdies over the final three holes.

Solid Quote: “You’ve got to get lucky. I had a lot of really good numbers today where I could just go ahead and hit full shots. Whenever you’re hitting full shots into these greens, the ball is going to stop a little quicker than if you have to take something off or hit little three-quarter shots.”

5. Bryson stays the course and stays top five

The 2020 US Open champion, despite a well-publicized defection to a rival league, has been the most successful, non-PGA Tour golfer of late in majors. DeChambeau has done everything but win, finding top-seven finishes in each of this season’s grand slam events.

DeChambeau began his day on the second nine, where five of the top seven golfers opened their round. Birdies at 13 and 18 brought him through the turn at minus-two. Two more stroke-savers at three and five elevated him to within a shot of the lead. Even though he stumbled with bogey five at the seventh, DeChambeau finished the day at minus-three. Bryson will tee off at 7:40 on Friday, and much like Rory, will have a chance to post a number early and position himself for a weekend charge.

Solid Quote: “That putt on 6 today was crucial from 80 feet. I could have easily putted off the green as well as No. 9. Really making sure my speed control is good, starting lines are good. I did accomplish for the most part what I was trying to do today besides 7.”

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Morning 9: Tiger gets Bob Jones Award | Record U.S. Open purse | PGA Tour-PIF announcement next week?

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the U.S. Open gets underway!

1. Tiger accepts USGA’s Bob Jones Award

Ron Driscoll for the USGA…”Tiger Woods began competing in USGA championships at age 14, which is the same age that Bob Jones was when he competed in his first U.S. Amateur. It’s far from the only characteristic that Woods shares with the namesake of the USGA’s highest honor, which Woods received on Tuesday evening before the 2024 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club…”

  • “…In accepting the award, Woods called Jones “the greatest amateur who ever lived. All the attributes that we all try to aspire to in this great game of golf, that is what Bob Jones exuded.”
  • “Woods went on to honor his mother, Kultida, but not before joking that the first USGA event she attended was his final U.S. Amateur in 1996. Having won five straight USGA events, he said the pressure was enormous. “There she was in a Stanford sweatshirt; imagine if I had lost? But who did I hug first after I won, right, Mommy?”
  • “My mom doesn’t get enough credit,” Woods said. “It was Dad and I on the road, but my mom has been there my entire life, has always been there through thick and thin. I accept this award with humbleness and in unbelievable regard for the past recipients, but I also accept it for my mom, too. She allowed me to get here, to do these things, to chase my dreams, with support and love. I didn’t do this alone, I had the greatest rock that any child could possibly have. Thank you, Mommy.”
Full piece.

2. U.S. Open purse now stands at $21.5 million

Golf Channel staff…”This week’s U.S. Open offers a $21.5 million purse with the winner earning $4.3 million. That’s up from $20 million ($4 million to winner) a year ago.”

  • “It’s the largest purse among the four men’s majors, with The Players Championship paying $25 million.”
Full piece.

3. Pathway for top LIV players into future U.S. Opens?

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”For three years, the major championship bodies – Augusta National, USGA, PGA of America and R&A – have been reluctant to give players who joined LIV Golf a pathway into their events. But on Wednesday at Pinehurst, USGA CEO Mike Whan offered those players hope.”

  • “We’re going to talk about it this offseason, whether or not there needs to be a path to somebody or somebodies that are performing really well on LIV that can get a chance to play in that way,” Whan said. “I think we are serious about that. Exactly what that looks like and how that’ll curtail, I’m not just being coy, we haven’t done that yet.”
Full piece.

4. USGA looking at drivers?

Mike Stachura for Golf Digest…??”When the USGA and R&A announced in December that there would be a change in the way golf balls were tested that would make most models nonconforming, resulting in an estimated distance loss of as much as 15 yards at the elite level, it was seen as a way to penalize the fastest swingers in all of golf (top men professionals) while offering lesser and potentially inconsequential penalties at the recreational golfer level. While a similar rollback for the driver was contemplated in the early days of the ruling bodies’ research, that interest eventually waned, said Mike Whan, USGA CEO.”

  • “Yet during his U.S. Open-week press conference on Wednesday at Pinehurst No. 2, Whan talked about the distance deliberations and conversations with R&A CEO Martin Slumbers and indicated that the driver is still in the rollback crosshairs.”
  • “I would say comfortably speaking for both Martin and I, we had and have a real interest in figuring out a way to provide a difference as it relates to the driver, as well,” Whan said. “To date, we didn’t really come up with something that wouldn’t have a much more negative effect on the recreational game. What we did on the golf ball is going to have much more of an impact at [the elite] level than at the average level. When we started talking about changes in the driver or driving equipment, it was just the opposite. Much more significant impact across the board than just at the elite level.”
Full piece.

5. Last chance for Olympic spots

Nick Zaccardi for NBC Sports…”The U.S. Open is also a scramble for the last Olympic men’s golf spots in Paris.”

  • “After Sunday’s final round, the 60-player Olympic men’s field will be determined based on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). The women’s field will be drawn from the Rolex Rankings after the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week.
  • “A nation can qualify up to four golfers per gender if they are all ranked in the top 15 in the world. A nation can qualify up to two golfers if any are ranked outside the top 15.
Full Piece.

6. Nelly’s proudest moment of 2024

Beth Ann Nichols for Golfweek…”Nelly Korda, a six-time winner on tour this season, says she was never more proud of herself this season than the U.S. Women’s Open. That might sound strange, given that she made a 10 on a par 3 and didn’t play the weekend.”

  • “But Korda is wise enough to see past the score.
  • “I’m not going to say that I was happy with the way I played,” she said. “I was happy with the way I fought. I fought really, really, hard to make the cut.”
Full Piece.

7. Bettors loving Scheffler

Doug Greenberg for ESPN…”The central betting story going into the U.S. Open is the same as it was before the Masters and the PGA Championship: Scottie Scheffler is an overwhelming favorite and is seeing some of the shortest odds for a major since prime Tiger Woods.

  • “The 27-year-old opened the week at +300 at ESPN BET and has been bet down to +290; across the marketplace, he’s as short as +250. It’s the shortest odds for any golfer to win the U.S. Open since Woods in 2007 (+250).”
  • “Despite the extremely short odds, Scheffler is still attracting a very healthy number of tickets and even more handle.”
Full Piece.

8. PGA Tour-PIF announcement next week?

9. U.S. Open photos

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s major event!
Full Piece.
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Equipment

Spotted: Phil Mickelson testing Callaway’s mini driver

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There is some serious equipment testing going on at Pinehurst’s legendary No. 2 course before the 2024 U.S. Open starts! We spotted renowned club tinkerer Phil Mickelson on the range with a new setup. He was testing out the new Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver with a new Mitsubishi Diamana BB (Blue Board) shaft.

Phil has long been a mini driver/2-wood/strong 3-wood guy, as he was the inspiration for the Callaway “Phranken Wood” about 10 years ago. For many pros, adding a strong 3-wood or mini driver allows them to turn it over easier and add a more consistent draw to their bag off the tee without losing too much distance.

Mitsubishi’s Diamana BB is the newest mid-launch shaft in the Diamana line. The “BB” on the shaft of course references the iconic Blue Board shafts from 20 years ago and this model will have a similar smooth feel.

 

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