Balls were going into the hole all over the place at the 18th green today. First, Birdie Kim holes out from a bunker on the 4.7-stroke average 18th hole at Cherry Hills. Then Padraig Harrington holes an 65-foot eagle putt for a one-stroke win over Jim Furyk. Harrington, who began each of his nines by going +3 on holes 1-3 and +2 on holes 10-12, finished the nines with a birdie (7, 14) and an eagle (9, 18) to finish at -10.
A terrific low-runner out of the sand trap at eighteen delivered an unlikely 72nd hole birdie to 23-year old Birdie Kim (72). Tied with 17-year old Morgan Pressel (75) throughout the day it was Birdie's final shot which stole victory from the young amateur. Staring down every leaderboard Pressel felt confident that this was her tournament to win but struggled to find the right club for many of her approach shots.
Birdie played solidly today not allowing the pressure to get to her. Like many golfers today Kim misread greens but didn't allow herself to get caught up in the drama of the event. She carefully played each hole turning difficult shots into opportunities.
When asked about how she felt after winning one of the most prestigious majors on the LPGA Tour, Kim commented in broken English, "I tried my best just to par to get close to the hole. I can't believe it! I'm very happy."
Kim is only the third Korean to win a major LPGA tournament and is in good company with veterans Grace Park and Se Ri Pak.
Padraig Harrington started the day tied for third but tied leader Jim Furyk by day's end. Furyk led the pack after both the first and second rounds. Harrington held the clubhouse lead until Furyk birdied the par-5 18th getting up and down out of a green-side bunker. A win tomorrow for Harrington would be his second of the season. He grabbed his first win on the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic in March, and is no stranger to the Barclays Classic as he lost in a playoff last year to Sergio Garcia.
Furyk is seeking his first win on Tour since 2003, the year he won both the U.S. Open and the Buick Open. Furyk has been close twice this year finishing T2 at the MCI Heritage and the Wachovia Championship. He is currently 13th on the Tour money list with $1,795,669 in the bank this season. If Furyk is able to cash in tomorrow he will round out his PGA Tour victories to a tidy ten.
While everyone was waiting for Annika Sorenstam to make her move at Cherry Hills Chilean rookie Nicole Perrot quietly played her game and stole the thunder from the big names in the field. With a pair of 70's Perrot is the only player to be under par after the second round of the 60th U.S. Women's Open.
Playing alongside of Perrot is amateur Morgan Pressel (71) whose temper flared with every missed putt. Repeatedly slamming her hand on her putter Pressel still managed to scrape out a 73 to stay within three strokes of Perrot.
Better-known amateur Michelle Wie's final three holes of her first round were played early this morning. She led in the clubhouse after the first 18 were completed.
Jim Furyk carded two birdies and two bogeys in his second round at Westchester Country Club. Oh yeah, he also holed out for eagle on the eighth hole! The eighth hole was Furyk's 17th of the day, and his eagle vaulted him back to the top of the leaderboard where he finished the first round. Mike "Fluff" Cowan, Furyk's caddy, advised his player to hit an eight-iron into the green on the difficult eighth hole, and he was right on the money. Cowan made the decision, and Furyk took care of the rest. The eagle put Jim Furyk at -8 for the tournament, and that number was good enough to keep him in the lead at the halfway point of the Barclays Classic.
I was jumping around the MSNBC site looking to see if the Jessica Simpson vs. Lindsay Lohan catfight had turned deadly but instead I stumbled across commentary by a gentlemen named Dan O'Neill. O'Neill is a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and contributes to NBCSports.com. He is horrible at creating analogies, but he is good at annoying me.
The first article of which I had the honor to read by this guy, whom has not been excited since the 1999 U.S. Open or possibly since he was born, was entitled "Goosen (yawn) to win 2nd straight Open". How can you put the word yawn and Goosen in the same sentence after Goosen (along with Peter Jacobsen) had the only sub-70 scores in the third round? Although Retief struggled on Sunday, he still doesn't deserve a "yawn".
I'm sure you're aware of the fact that Jim Furyk had arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left wrist last March and was unable to compete for nearly three months after. When he returned later in 2004, he had two top-10 finishes and mentioned something about his positive results being "gravy". I thought to myself, "Gravy? How can gravy relate to playing superb golf?" After hours of rigorous Google research and intense squeezing of a squishy stress relief ball, I have come to the simple conclusion that "gravy" is another term for "the icing on the cake", used to describe Furyk's comeback.
Darkness forced the first round of the U.S. Women's Open to a halt this evening. Just over 75 women completed the first round and only four of those players broke par.
Several golfers have already finished for the day including Annika Sorenstam whose round of 71 left her only two strokes behind leaders Angela Stanford (69) and amateur Brittany Lang (69). Michelle Wie is also cruising up the leaderboard currently tied for 4th place with Natalie Gulbis, Nicole Perrot and Liselotte Neumann (70) although she waits until tomorrow to finish her first round.
The buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners and insurance mogul William Foley II submitted a $1.2 billion cash buyout proposal to Callaway's board May 20th. According to the Los Angeles Times Callaway's top executive team were all unanimous in their approval of the bid but there appears to dissenting views from some on the board. One faction of the board is proposing the replacement of William Baker, Callaway's chairman and chief executive with another board member, Anthony Thornley. Baker is reportedly in favor of the bid.
CNN reports that Callaway stock is up 13 percent today upon news of the potential buyout.
UPDATE: My recently informed opinion is that going private by accepting this deal, or one just like it, would be a big step in the right direction for Callaway. The only thing holding them back at this point are board members unwilling to break from the status quo for the good of the company.