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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T.J. Oshie set to return to Caps' lineup Wednesday night

T.J. Oshie set to return to Caps' lineup Wednesday night

T.J. Oshie will return to the Capitals’ lineup Wednesday night against the Bruins, Coach Barry Trotz confirmed.

The top line right missed the past seven games with a shoulder injury that he suffered Nov. 18.

Despite the nearly three-week absence, Oshie still ranks third on the Caps in goals with eight and is fourth in points with 12. 

RELATED: 3 BOLD PREDICTIONS: TOUGH RASK AT HAND

Based on the morning skate, Oshie will skate alongside center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Marcus Johansson against Tuukka Rask and the surging Bruins. The 29-year-old will also reclaim his usual spot in the middle of the diamond on the first team power play.

Trotz said Oshie, who was sidelined 19 days, is returning “a little bit” earlier than expected.

“I depends on the individual,” Trotz said. “It depends on the healing process. It depends on how their body can handle the strain of being hurt and how it repairs itself."

Trotz added:  “Right now all indications are that Osh is ready to go. I have to trust our trainers and doctors and, more important, I have to trust the player. And the player feels like he’s ready to go.”

On Tuesday, Oshie was a full participant in practice for the first time since getting hurt. He went through contact drills and reported no aftereffects. He was full-go again Wednesday morning and afterward said he felt “great.”

The Capitals went 3-3-1 and averaged 2.14 goals per game while Oshie was sidelined.

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3 bold predictions: Tough Rask at hand

3 bold predictions: Tough Rask at hand

The Capitals will try to build on Monday's win as they host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday (NBCSN 8 p.m.). Here are three bold predictions for the game.

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana will all be held without a point

Kuznetsov and Burakovsky are trying to break out of offensive slumps while Vrana is trying to prove he belongs in the NHL. Points may be hard to come by on Wednesday, however, considering Tuukka Rask will be in net. By now, if you’re even a casual hockey fan you’re aware of what goalie Carey Price is doing in Montreal. His play this season is stealing the headlines away from Rask who has been equally as impressive registering the same number of wins (14) and a lower GAA (1.68) to go with a phenomenal .939 save percentage. This is not the goalie you want to face when dealing with an offensive slump.

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2. Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson will each record a point

An Orlov-Carlson pairing worked better than expected to start the season, but the results were short-lived. That pair had clearly run its course as it became clear the players were both undercutting each other offensively. Barry Trotz shuffled the defense at the end of Monday’s game and those new pairs will stick for Wednesday as John Carlson will reunite with long-time partner Karl Alzner and Orlov will move up to play with Matt Niskanen. Pairing each player with a stay-at-home partner will pay immediate dividends offensively.

3. Washington’s top line will account for two goals

T.J. Oshie returns Wednesday and moves up to the top line skating alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. Oshie was arguably the team MVP before an upper-body injury took him out of the lineup. His return with the team’s two hottest players will prove difficult to defend, especially with Zdeno Chara likely to matchup with Alex Ovechkin. Add in the fact that Rask is a surprising 1-8-4 in his career against Washington and that top line may find some success Wednesday.

MORE CAPITALS: Daily Quote: 'I’m creating, I’m skating'