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Golf Talk: Wie Flubs, Tiger Drug Testing Himself

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2008 08:37 AM

By Anthony Pioppi

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Wie Flubs It — Big Time

Larrazabal Steps Up

Sorenstam's Moment

Perry Wins, Austin Battles Yips

Tiger Drug Testing Himself

Sorenstam Conquers Mexico

Garcia Gets His Short Game On

Anthony Kim Takes It Slow


Wie Flubs It — Big Time

The U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen Country Club was supposed to be the first rung of Michelle Wie’s ascent back to the upper reaches of women’s golf.

Instead, her trip to Edina, Minn. showed how far she still has to go. Wie shot rounds of 81 and 75 and was undone by one hole.

Arriving at the par-4 ninth at 1-over-par, Wie made a nine and never recovered. And how does someone with such talent make such a score? Like this: She drove into the rough and because of a large tree had to lay up about 50 yards short of the elevated bowl-shaped green that is tipped severely from back to front.

Her third shot to the middle hole location came out thin, ending in the rough behind the green. Wie flubbed an attempt at a delicate chip shot leaving the ball in the fringe. Her putt from there rolled all the way into the first cut of rough at the front of the green.

Then, rather than playing her next shot long and allowing the ball to roll up the slope and back to the green, Wie went for a dicey effort in an attempt to get the ball close to the hole; the result was another miscue and the ball was back at her feet. She then chipped 6 feet past the hole, missed the putt and tapped in.

“Nine was just like a blur,” Wie said. “I had trouble counting how many strokes I had.”

The debacle was perfectly in focus for ESPN course commentator Mark Rolfing.

“Total mismanagement. All the decisions at 9 were bad,” he said.

Larrazabal Steps Up

Pablo Larrazabal made the most of his second trip to the European PGA Tour’s Open de France ALSTOM, winning the event and earning his way into next month’s Open Championship.

Larrazabal, 25, was last at the tournament caddying for his brother Alejandro, the 2002 British Amateur champion. This time Pablo earned his way into the field via a 36-hole qualifying event, then held off Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood at Golf National, west of Paris.

Ranked 481st coming into the event, Larrazabal described himself as “the 150th best player here,” and afterwards had a problem comprehending the victory.

“I don't know how it feels. It's fantastic,” he said. “I really played great golf, and my putter was great all week.”

Larrazabal opened with a 65 to lead after the first round, and stayed clear of the field the rest of the way, winning by four shots.

Sorenstam's Moment

The 2008 U.S. Women’s Open might one day be remembered as the first victory for one of the all-time greats. But for now the four-shot triumph of Inbee Park, at 19 the youngest ever to win the title, will be overshadowed by Annika Sorenstam’s dramatic finish.

Sorenstam, one of the game's greatest if not the greatest player, was competing in what is, for now, her final Women’s Open after announcing her retirement.

She brought her participation in the event, which she’s won three times, to a dramatic conclusion, eagling the par-5 18th hole at Interlachen Country Club from 199 yards to shoot 78. As the event unfolded, television offered a wonderful view.

The greenside camera followed the approach as it landed in the approach, bobbled onto the putting surface and made a direct line for the cup as the crowd rose in anticipation of the miracle that came a few seconds later.

Sorenstam did not see the ball drop, but the gallery explosion communicated the result. She went from a stoic walk to a staccato burst, stopping, whirling around and thrusting her hands into the air.

“Are you kidding?” she asked playing partner and defending Women’s Open champion Cristie Kerr, which was picked up by an on-course microphone.

As Sorenstam made the trip to the green, the intensity of the thunderous crowd caught players and announcers by surprise. Halfway to the green, Sorenstam stopped and waved longtime caddie Terry McNamara up to her, and they walked the next few yards hand in hand.

A bit later, Sorenstam pulled the ball out of the cup with a delicate move, kissed it, and tossed it into the stands behind the green pausing to watch it descend into the hands of a fan.

“You never cease to amaze me. That’s the best shot I’ve ever seen,” Kerr said, heading towards the scoring trailer.

What makes the shot almost darkly humorous is the way Sorenstam played the 18th, one of the easiest holes on the course, up to that point.

Thursday she made par, Friday missed a 6-foot putt for eagle, then Saturday knocked it on the green in two but three-putted. Sunday Sorenstam missed the fairway with her drive and was forced to punch out of the rough, leading to the time-freezing moment.

Perry Wins, Austin Battles Yips

Thanks to a bogey, bogey finish at the Buick Open by Woody Austin, Kenny Perry’s goal of making the U.S. Ryder Cup, which will occur later this year in his home state of Kentucky, is all but assured with the victory.

If Perry provided the feel-good plotline, Austin provided the dialogue after three putting the 71st and 72nd holes.

“I threw it away,” said Austin, “I didn't hit the ball close enough to the hole the last two holes to counteract my yips. I've got to figure it out or I'd better quit.”

However, unlike most players who sulk or throw a tantrum after such a collapse, Austin spent 15 minutes signing autographs before talking with the media. “It's nobody's fault but my own.”

Tiger Drug Testing Himself

The New York Daily News ran an in-depth piece on the PGA Tour’s decision to randomly drug test its players that gave a revealing look at the Tour’s arrogance and how some in the industry view Tiger Woods’ reaction to the policy with suspicion.

Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour executive vice president, said the Tour decided to go with testing, “to prove we are clean,” while maintaining the attitude that golfers are morally superior to all other athletes.

“We think the culture of our sport is such that if a rule exists, it is adhered to,” he said.

Dr. Charles Yesalis, professor emeritus at Penn State University and a doping expert, mocked what he referred to as the “sanctity of golf” reasoning. “That argument, with five seconds of thought, is childlike,” he said. “With that much money at stake, there are going to be people who cross the line.”

The fact is, golfers would benefit from performance-enhancing drugs. “There are two kinds of drugs that one thinks about,” Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said. “One relates to driving the ball. Someone on steroids would hit the ball farther. The other end of the spectrum is putting. Beta blockers, which one could use to minimize hand tremors, might have an enhancement effect.”

Beta blockers are used to treat heart problems and anxiety; PGA Tour Player Craig Parry claimed in 2000 that several tour members won major tournaments in the 1990s while abusing beta blockers.

Tiger Woods is proclaiming his purity saying he tested himself twice in the last six months to make sure the supplements he takes were not contaminated with illegal additives. BALCO founder Victor Conte, which the United States Anti-Doping Agency says developed the banned steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), is skeptical of Woods’ motivation.

“Athletes screening their urine for steroids are more than likely doing so to monitor their use of steroids,” he said.

Yesalis also questions the Woods declaration. “It only proves that the drugs they screened weren't in his system at the time,” he said. “Did they test for growth hormone? I'll bet not.”

Woods did not say what he was tested for.

Sorenstam Conquers Mexico

Lorena Ochoa may be the No.1 player in the world, but Annika Sorenstam rules in Ochoa’s home country of Mexico.

In a recent skins game, Sorenstam won 11 skins and $165,000, while Ochoa earned $105,000.

“It was a great experience thanks to all the Mexicans. Every time I played here was a great one. You have always been nice to me,” said Sorenstam.

Garcia Gets His Short Game On

For the past few seasons, Sergio Garcia has been striking the ball like no one else, with astounding accuracy and length.

If only he could putt.

It has been on the greens where Garcia has found the barrier to the success long predicted and expected of him. That could be changing. In the final round of the European Open at the London Club he fired a 66, best of the day, with just 21 putts, finishing second to Ross Fisher.

“It was definitely the best putting round I have ever had,” Garcia said. “I don't expect to putt like this every round. I would love to though because it would make the game easy.

“Now I know what Tiger Woods feels like 98 percent of the time he gets on the greens. It is a great feeling.”

Anthony Kim Takes It Slow

With Anthony Kim’s victory at the AT&T National, his second of the year, he is now the person most people will look to as Tiger Woods’ heir.

Kim says he is not ready to wear the crown, however. “I think anytime there's a younger guy that plays good, there's always a little bit of buzz that's created, and people are looking and hoping to find the guy that's going to challenge Tiger,” said Kim, the first American under 25 since Woods to win at least twice in the same year on the PGA Tour. “I haven't done enough to say I'm the guy.”

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