Top ten women's majors

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Top ten women's majors

By Leonard Shapiro
CSNwashington.com

With Na Yeon Choi prevailing in the U.S. Womens Open by fourshots Sunday in Kohler, Wisc., it marked the fourth time in the last five years a South Korean has won Americas national championship of golf. The LPGA almost always has taken a backseat to the PGA Tour in terms of crowds, purses and television ratings. But the women definitely have produced more than their share of bright and shining stars as well as some of the more riveting moments in golf history, particularly in the major championships. Heres a list of our all-time top ten performances.

10. Rocky Mountain High. She gave herself the nickname Birdie to distinguish herself from all the other South Korean Kims on the LPGA Tour, and the 23-year-old certainly lived up to her name in the 2005 U.S. Womens Open. At Cherry Hills in the Denver suburbs, Kim holed out from a bunker 30 yards from the cup for one last birdie, just enough to hold off two teenage amateurs, 17-year-old Morgan Pressel and 19-year-old Brittany Lang, by two shots.

9. Jewel for Julie. In suffocating Mississippi summer heat and humidity, 38-year-old Julie Inkster, who had been contemplating giving up the tour, blossomed into a dominating champion of the 1999 U.S. Womens Open at Old Waverly Country Club. She ended five shots ahead of runner-up Sherri Turner, and her 16-under par total of 272 shattered the tournament record for lowest score relative to par by six shots. So much for early retirement.

8. Slam Dunk. Karrie Webb holed out from 116 yards for an improbable eagle on the 72nd hole at the 2006 Kraft-Nabisco Championship, a stroke of genius that got her into a playoff against Lorena Ochoa, who also eagled the final hole with a clutch 12-foot putt. Webb wasted no time in the playoff, draining a six-footer for birdie at the 18th to claim her seventh major title with a final round 65. Of course she took the traditional dive into the pond near the final green shortly thereafter, no doubt employing the Australian crawl.

7. Viva Lorena. Frustrated by constantly being asked when she was going to win her first major championship, Lorena Ochoa went to St. Andrews, the home of golf, to do something about it in the summer of 2007. With an opening round 67, the then No. 1 ranked player in the world took the lead after nine holes and never looked back, winning by four shots in a week of typical Scottish wind and spitting rain. This is the most special round of golf I have ever played, said the native of Mexico after her final day 74 in atrocious conditions.

6. Major Breakthrough. With three straight birdies in the middle of her final round, Annika Sorenstam opened a three-shot lead in the 1995 U.S. Womens Open and held on for the first professional victory of her Hall of Fame career. She had to hold off a couple of fast-closing Hall of FamersPat Bradley and Betsy Kingand won by a stroke over Meg Mallon, who missed a 20-foot birdie putt at the 18th. It was clearly the start of something very big for Sorenstam, who posted a final round 68 that day at the Broadmoor East course in Colorado Springs.

5. Rookie on a Roll. It was never really close at the 1978 LPGA Championship contested at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Kings Island, Ohio. Nancy Lopez, in her rookie season, won by six shots over her closest pursuer, Amy Alcott, for the first of her three LPGA major championships, and her only major victories. Lopez, only 21, won nine times that season, including five in a row and earned Player of The Year honors. Said Hall of Famer Mickey Wright that week, Never in my life have I seen such control in someone so young.

4. Korean Invasion. Playing in her first major championship in her first season on the LPGA Tour, unknown 20-year-old South Korean Se Ri Pak went wire-to-wire to capture the McDonalds LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware. Pak won by three shots, but far more significant, her victories there and at the U.S. Womens Open a month later helped ignite an explosion back home in womens golf that has resulted in more than 40 Korean players now competing on the LPGA Tour, and more than 40 on the Futures circuit, as well. Ask any of the young Korean players, including Choi, to name their hero growing up, and most will say Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak.

3. Little Patty. Itty-bitty Patty Berg was a giant in womens golf in the 1940s and 50s, winning a record 15 major championships, including the 1946 U.S. Womens Open conducted by the short-lived Womens Professional Golf Association. That was replaced in 1950 by the LPGA, and in 1953, the U.S. Golf Association began running the Open. That first Open in 46 at the Spokane Country Club was decided in a 36-hole match-play format after 36 holes of qualifying by stroke play. Berg won the qualifying medal with rounds of 72 and 73 and beat Betty Jamison, 5 and 4, in the 36-hole final. She collected 19,700 for her efforts.

2. The Wright Stuff. In the 1954 Womens Open, 19-year-old amateur Mickey Wright was paired with the great Babe Zaharias and made a huge splash by finishing fourth. Four years later at Forest Lake Country Club in Detroit, she prevailed over another LPGA founder, Louise Suggs, by five shots to win the first of her record four Open titles among her 13 major championships, second only to Berg. Her 82 career victories trail only the 88 posted by Kathy Whitworth. She earned 7,200 from the Scrooges at the USGA, who sliced Open purses dramatically when they took over the event in 53.

1. What a Babe. Perhaps the greatest female athlete of all time, Babe Didrikson Zaharias came to golf later in an athletic life dominated mostly by basketball and track and field. At the suggestion of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice, Zaharias decided to focus on the sport, and was a quick study. Her victory in the 1954 U.S. Womens Open at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Massachusetts was among the most inspirational triumphs in sports history. Only months after her first surgery for cancer, Zaharias won the Open by an astounding 12 shots over Betty Hicks, the second greatest margin of victory in tournament annals. Two years later, she died from cancer at the age of 45, with ten career major titles (four as an amateur) and 41 career wins. Her career winnings: 66,237.

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Justin Williams calls the Caps' loss 'a reality check'

Justin Williams calls the Caps' loss 'a reality check'

PITTSBURGH—Justin Williams has seen a lot during his 16-year NHL career. But he's not sure he's ever been part of something as wild as Monday’s 8-7 loss to the Penguins.

“It snowballed too quickly for us,” Williams said at PPG Paints Arena. “All around, it was like a 1988 Smythe Division game out there, I think. Not something you want to do.”

Williams scored his 15th goal early in the second period to put the Caps ahead 3-0.

Then things got away from the visitors—quickly.

RELATED: Caps' win streak snapped in crazy loss to Penguins

The final regular season meeting between these bitter rivals sure

About five minutes later, Evgeni Malkin scored the first of his three goals while the teams skated four aside. Braden Holtby said the goal was one he should stop “all the time.” Coach Barry Trotz said it allowed Malkin and Co. to “seize” the game’s momentum.

Either way, Williams didn’t like the Caps’ initial response.

“You certainly know it’s not going to be easy,” Williams said. “We’re up 3-0. Things are going well. Things have gone well lately. But they’re not going to back away. They’re not going to say, ‘Alright, maybe next game.’ They’re going to come at you, and they did.”

The Penguins took 10 of the game’s next 12 shots. Four of them resulted in goals. The capacity crowd, which had been quiet for the first 25 minutes, suddenly came alive.  

Were some bad bounces involved? Sure. Nick Bonino found the puck on the doorstep after it hit him. Bryan Rust’s goal went in off of Ovechkin’s skate.

None of that helped, of course. But Williams still felt like the Caps, who came in riding a nine-game winning streak, could have and should have done more to keep the second period—and ultimately the game—from slipping away.

“Tonight was a good reality check just to say, ‘You know what? You’re not that good,” he said. “You still got to work for things. It’s not going to come easy for you.”

Williams added: “It was a good challenge for us. We came back multiple times. I’m proud of us for that. But, again, crappy game.”

Asked if there was anything positive that the Caps could take from the game, Williams bristled at the suggestion.

“Nothing,” he said. “I want to park it right now. I don’t want to watch it. I don’t want to see it. Obviously, if I have to I will. But just go back to working hard and go back to the drawing board and just hit the reset.”

MORE CAPITALS: NHL explains why the Malkin goal was not overturned

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Caps' win streak snapped in crazy, controversial 8-7 overtime loss to Penguins

Caps' win streak snapped in crazy, controversial 8-7 overtime loss to Penguins

PITTSBURGH—The final regular season meeting between these bitter rivals sure was a memorable one. 

After the Caps and Penguins combined for 14 goals in regulation, Conor Sheary scored the game winner in overtime, lifting Pittsburgh to a wild 8-7 victory at PPG Paints Arena. 

How it happened: The Caps took a quick 3-0 lead on goals Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom and Justin Williams, whose goal at 1:17 of the second period meant the visitors had outscored their opponents 15-0 dating to the previous Penguins game on Jan. 11.

It wasn't nearly enough. Because during a wild 11 minute span in the second, the prolific Penguins  scored six of the game’s next eight goals—yes, six of eight, including an Evgeni Malkin hat trick. As a result, the Pens took a 6-5 lead into the final frame. 

The third period was almost as crazy. Sidney Crosby stretched Pittsburgh’s lead to 7-5 early. But the Caps fought back with goals from T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller, whose second tally of the night with 5:22 left to play sent the game to overtime.

Sheary didn’t need much time to decide it. The Pens’ winger dived headfirst into a pileup in the Caps’ crease and somehow managed to get enough of his stick on the puck to push it underneath Philipp Grubauer and off of Matt Niskanen’s skate. After a brief review, officials determined there was no goaltender interference. 

RELATED: Oshie's backhanded goal gets Caps within one

What it means: The Caps’ winning streak came to an end at nine games. But they kept their spot atop the NHL because both Columbus and Minnesota were off. 

Holtby’s night cut short: The reigning Vezina Trophy winner entered as one of the hottest goalies in the NHL, having recorded three shutouts in his previous five starts. Monday, however, was not his night. Trotz made a goalie switch after Holtby allowed a fifth goal on 15 second period shots, including goals by Bryan Rust and Malkin on back-to-back shots. Holtby yielded five goals on 26 shots.

Defense optional: The Caps came in allowing a league-low 1.91 goals against. So, yeah. 

Unsuccessful challenge: After winning a coach’s challenge against the Blackhawks, Trotz tried again to have a goal overturned on grounds of goaltender interference. This time, however, it didn’t work. Officials ruled that Patric Hornqvist did not prevent Grubauer from doing his job on Malkin’s third goal late in the second period.  

Holy O: The Caps have now scored five or more goals in four straight games and seven of the last 10. The seven goals against on Monday came from six different Caps (Burakovsky, Backstrom, Williams, Brett Connolly, Eller and Oshie). 

Getting physical: Alex Ovechkin didn’t score a goal but he dished out a game-high nine hits. The Caps’ captain also notched a pair of assists.

Looking ahead: The Caps will not practice on Tuesday. They’ll return to the ice Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in Arlington before departing on the annual Dad’s Trip, which will make stops in St. Louis and Dallas.

MORE CAPITALS: Eller pulls the Caps even at 5