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GOLF THOMAS BONK

Open Might Have Record Karrie-Over

July 04, 2002|THOMAS BONK

Here is the list of players who have won the U.S. Women's Open three consecutive times:

That's right, no one has done it, although Karrie Webb has a chance to be the first one this week at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. Webb has a few things going for her, namely five major titles since 1999, plus four of the last eight and five of the last 12.

She also gets style points. Webb hasn't merely won majors, she has blown everybody else away, winning those five by a total of 27 shots. Last year at Pine Needles in North Carolina, Webb beat Se Ri Pak by eight shots.

But Webb has history against her. Six players have had an opportunity to win three in a row and six have failed. The list includes Mickey Wright (1958-59), Donna Caponi (1969-70), Susie Berning (1972-73), Hollis Stacey (1977-78), Betsy King (1989-90) and Annika Sorenstam (1995-96).

Webb, 27, is already the youngest woman to win all four of the LPGA's majors, which she accomplished last year at the LPGA Championship.

She won her first tournament of the year two weeks ago at Rochester, N.Y., which puts her five tournament victories behind Sorenstam, who won for the sixth time in 12 outings last week in Northfield, N.J.

By the way, when Sorenstam tried for her third consecutive U.S. Open victory in 1997 at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon, she missed the cut.

Sorenstam has already been identified as Webb's biggest challenger. Sorenstam leads the LPGA money list by a ton--she has $1.534 million and leads Pak by nearly $800,000--and she also leads for the Vare Trophy (68.74) and in player-of-the-year points.

Pak has won three majors, including the 1998 Open at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin, so she is probably going to be a factor at Prairie Dunes, a 6,293-yard, par-70 layout. Pak has won twice this year and so has Laura Diaz. Another player to watch out for is Juli Inkster, who has won six majors.

Tiger Update

News item: Tiger Woods withdraws from the Western Open because he's sick.

Reaction: Now, his final tuneup before the British Open at Muirfield becomes his fishing trip in Ireland with John Cook and Mark O'Meara ... if you don't count a pre-Open practice round at Muirfield he is likely to play.

Harmonious

News item: Nancy Sinatra and Glen Campbell are featured in new Nike Golf advertising campaign.

Reaction: Thus leading to rhinestone-covered golf boots made for walking 18 holes, or the time it takes to get to Phoenix, whichever comes first.

Second Helpings

He went five playoff holes before losing to Don Pooley in the U.S. Senior Open, but coming close didn't make Tom Watson feel so great. It was the fourth time in 10 tournaments this year that Watson has been second and the ninth time since he joined the Senior PGA Tour full-time two years ago.

That's too many, Watson said.

"I feel like Jug McSpaden to Byron Nelson, I feel like Phil Mickelson to Tiger Woods," he said. "It's not a lot of fun to finish second."

Come Back, Len

For further proof that golf is a strange game, we present Len Mattiace.

Mattiace, 34, had developed a reputation as one of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour who just couldn't win.

He turned pro in 1990, made two trips back to qualifying school, played two years on what is now the Buy.com Tour, played seven years on the PGA Tour, played 273 professional events and hadn't won a single time.

Now in just over four months, he has won twice--the Nissan Open in February and the St. Jude Classic last weekend at Memphis, Tenn. As a result, Mattiace is working on adding something to his reputation: You don't want to see him over your shoulder.

When he won at Riviera, Mattiace trailed leader Scott McCarron by four shots during the last round. Mattiace began the fourth round at Memphis seven shots off the lead.

Mattiace has won $1.92 million this year, after having won $2.86 million in the 11 previous years.

Eagle Beagle

And even more proof that golf is strange.... Darron Stiles holed out twice from the fairway for eagles in the last round and won the Knoxville Open on the Buy.com Tour by one shot. His first victory was at the Dominion Open three years ago when he holed out from the fairway to eagle the last hole and won by one shot.

Boo

Remember Boo Weekley, the 28-year-old career mini-tour player from Milton, Fla., who earned his PGA Tour card at qualifying school? Weekley was a cute story at the time because of his name (after Yogi Bear's sidekick Boo Boo Bear) and his clothes (rain pants because of a skin condition and sneakers because of extra-wide feet).

Now there is an update to the story. Boo broke through and earned his first paycheck this year when he tied for 19th at Memphis and made $37,724.

Ryder Cup Update

It's still two months off, but it's safe to say that the Ryder Cup has been playing to the short side of the public interest game as Woods hogs the news in his pursuit of the Grand Slam.

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