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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What will Joe Ross' role be for Nationals in playoffs vs. Dodgers?

What will Joe Ross' role be for Nationals in playoffs vs. Dodgers?

It was just a few weeks ago that Joe Ross' postseason availability was in question, and if he could return in time, whether he would pitch out of the Nationals' bullpen and or as a starter wasn't clear. Manager Dusty Baker wondered aloud if he would get his young right-hander back, even as Stephen Strasburg dealt with elbow injuries.

The progress Ross has made in a short period of time since is remarkable and after his 90-pitch outing on Thursday afternoon against the Diamondbacks, the 23-year-old looks and feels ready for the playoffs, and not just to pitch in relief, either.

"I'm hoping I get the opportunity to start, but that's up to them," Ross said. "But I'll take any opportunity I get to pitch and go out there and compete. I just want to help the team in any way I can."

Ross wasn't great on Thursday in his third start back from the disabled list. He only made it four innings, as his pitch count soared early. But in giving up just one run, he's now pitched 9 2/3 innings in three games back. During that stretch he's allowed three runs and struck out 14.

[RELATED: Wilson Ramos hopes to be back with Nationals]

It has been a process of baby steps for the Nats starter, a slow progression back from right shoulder inflammation, an injury rehab that featured a setback in late July. Now, though, he is essentially back to normal, just in time for the NL Division Series which begins next week.

"I feel good. I felt really good today. I felt really good last start. I guess it's just a point of executing pitches," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind really on whether I can go out and compete."

Baker mentioned that Ross could pitch in releif early in the NLDS against the Dodgers. That could keep him available for a start later on, if it's kept short like a normal bullpen session.

But one has to wonder if Ross has improved his case enough to pitch Game 3 of that series, given Gio Gonzalez' recent struggles. The lefty has allowed 19 earned runs in his last 23 innings going back five starts.

Regardless, Ross has certainly come a long way in just three MLB outings.

"He looks ready," second baseman Wilmer Difo said through an interpreter.

With all the negative injury news the Nationals have received in recent days, between Wilson Ramos' season-ending injury and Strasburg essentially ruled out for the NLDS, having Ross fully back in the mix is a nice change of fortune for the NL East champs.

[RELATED: Matt Belisle sounds like safe bet for Nats playoff roster]

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Indians-Tigers rainout could complicate Orioles life

Indians-Tigers rainout could complicate Orioles life

After waiting four hours and 13 minutes, the Detroit Tigers’ scheduled game with Cleveland was rained out. Six inches of rain fell at Comerica Field, making it unplayable. 

The Tigers and Indians will have to play on Monday if the wild-card race is undecided. 

That’s not good news for the Orioles. If the Orioles and Detroit tie, a game will then have to played at Oriole Park to decide the second wild-card team, complicating the postseason schedule. 

The Tigers have three games at Atlanta while the Orioles play three at Yankee Stadium. If the Indians-Tigers game is necessary on Monday, the Orioles may have to come back to Baltimore to await the result. 

Of course, the Orioles could make it necessary by winning the final four games of the season, beginning with tonight’s game in Toronto. 

If Orioles win and Tigers losses combine for four, then Detroit is eliminated. 

Seattle, which trails by two games, plays four with Oakland. 

Potentially worse news for the Orioles is that this weekend’s weather forecast in New York is horrible. 

The wild-card game is scheduled for Tuesday, and the Division Series is scheduled for Thursday, so a tiebreaker game between the Orioles and Tigers could certainly complicate things.  

RELATED: Hyun Soo Kim provides biggest hit of Orioles' season