Carin Koch's Redemption
During six winless seasons on the LPGA tour, Carin Koch had a
reputation for faltering at the finish. Her worst meltdown
occurred two years ago at the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic in
Toledo, where she took a two-shot lead to the final hole, an easy
par-5, but made a double bogey and then lost to Se Ri Pak in a
playoff. Koch, 30, put the choker's label to rest on Sunday by
shooting a six-under 66 at Corning Country Club to make the LPGA
Corning (N.Y.) Classic her first tour victory.
The win also helped repair the damage done to the Swede's
reputation at the Corning four years ago, when she was accused of
cheating and was disqualified from the tournament, an incident
that also caused a rift between Annika Sorenstam and her younger
sister, Charlotta. During the third round of that tournament
Koch, the leader, hooked her tee shot at the 16th hole into pines
near the adjacent driving range. When fans and marshals failed to
find her ball, Koch grabbed her driver and headed back to retee.
As she reached the tee box, Stefan, her husband and caddie, said
he saw Carin's first ball fall from one of the trees. However,
Robert Klasson, Charlotta's fiance and caddie, claimed that
Stefan had broken the rules by shaking the pine, which caused
Carin's ball to fall out. Charlotta and Klasson had been paired
with the couple. LPGA official Angus McKenzie ruled in favor of
the Kochs. "It was one person's word against another," McKenzie
says, "so we gave Carin the benefit of the doubt and let her
proceed as if the ball was in play."
The next day Klasson produced an elderly couple who backed up his
story. Even though none of the marshals looking for Carin's ball
had seen Stefan shake the tree, she was slapped with a two-shot
penalty and DQ'd for having signed an incorrect scorecard. "It
was as if they were calling us cheaters," she says. "The cameras
were there, and there was no way Stefan could've shaken that
Annika, a friend of Carin's, grilled officials about the
incident. When Charlotta and Klasson were married in December
1998, Annika attended the ceremony but was not a member of the
wedding party. When Charlotta and Klasson divorced late last
year, the sisters reconciled.
Last week marked Koch's first appearance in Corning since the
incident. "I wanted to tell Charlotta, 'Thank you for getting a
divorce so that I could come back to Corning,'" Carin said. "The
whole thing came down to Stefan and Robert, and it was no secret
that they didn't get along. I've tried to block it from my mind,
but when someone calls your husband a liar, it's hard."
COLOR PHOTO: J.D. CUBAN Koch's first win made up for her DQ from the Corning in 1997, when she was accused of cheating
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID WALBERG
Mark it down, Annika Sorenstam will win this week's U.S. Women's
Open. When Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club last hosted the
tournament, in 1996, Sorenstam was Tiger-like, winning by six
shots. This year she's an even better player--and physically
stronger. Tough courses like Pine Needles usually separate the
players from the poseurs, and right now no one compares with
What do these players have in common?
Between the Masters and the May 28 cutoff they were the only
players to move into the top 50 of the World Ranking and
therefore earn exemptions into the U.S. Open. Coceres jumped
from 54th to 30th, Hoch from 52nd to 41st and Taniguchi from
51st to 50th.
Would you like to see Bill Clinton become a member of your club?
--Based on 3,582 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Does Greg Norman deserve a special exemption into
the U.S. Open? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
Spending Kemper Open week at the White House as a guest of
President Bush's must have inspired Ben Crenshaw, who shot 70-70
to make the cut for the first time since the 2000 Byron Nelson
Classic, a span of 15 tournaments. Here are the exempt players
with the longest ongoing streaks of consecutive missed cuts.
LAST CUT MADE CUTS
Ian Baker-Finch '94 NEC 34
Billy Ray Brown '99 Bay Hill 21
Craig Stadler '01 Pebble 9
Kent Jones '01 Buick Invit. 8
Sean Murphy '01 Nissan 7
Craig Spence '00 Disney 7
Curtis Strange '00 Michelob 7
Rocky Walcher '01 Buick Invit. 7
Fuzzy Zoeller '01 Hope 7
Ranking the NCAA Champs
Candy Hannemann (below), a senior at Duke, won the NCAA
championship by beating Arizona freshman Lorena Ochoa on the
first playoff hole last week at Mission Inn Golf and Tennis
Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. Unfortunately, winning the
NCAAs has almost become the kiss of death on the LPGA since
Arizona's Annika Sorenstam took the title in 1991. The last nine
champions have won only five LPGA tournaments combined. Here's
how we rank them as pros.
1. Emilee Klein '94, Arizona State
A confident overachiever, she has won twice--although both
victories came five years ago--despite an unorthodox swing and a
lack of power.
2. Heather Bowie '97, Texas
She's finally on the upswing after twice failing to get her
card. Consistent, with seven top 20s already this year, she
should blossom into a top-tier player.
3. Jennifer Rosales '98, Southern Cal
A Rosie Jones-type battler, only longer, she left school early,
and her inexperience shows. She excels in distance (15th) but
fails in putting (107th). Loads of talent.
4. Charlotta Sorenstam '93, Texas
She won for the first time last year, yet suffers in comparison
with her sister. (Who doesn't?) Her swing is similar to
Annika's, but her intensity and drive are not even close.
5. Marisa Baena '96, Arizona
Only 23, she used to be compared--unfairly--to Tiger Woods. Lots
of potential and power. She recently changed to coach Mike
Lebouve, and her athletic swing looks better than ever.
6. Vicki Goetze-Ackerman '92, Georgia
She had only eight top 10s in her first seven seasons, and
although she has had five this year, she'll never be a star. A
phenomenal putter who hits seven- and nine-woods as well as some
players hit wedges, she's still short, averaging only 211 yards
off the tee.
7. Grace Park '99, Arizona State
She took her second career victory this year but hasn't
dominated the way many insiders expected. Some question her
heart. She probably hits more tee shots out-of-bounds than any
other good player.
8. Jenna Daniels '00, Arizona
A nonexempt player, she has tons of potential, but her short
game lacks polish and now, frustrated, she's wondering if she
should've become a schoolteacher. Give her some time.
9. Kristel Mourgue D'Algue '95, Arizona State
A native of France whose mother, Cecilia, was a top amateur, she
failed to earn an LPGA card and joined the European tour in '96.
She quit after two years and now lives in Paris with her husband
and their six-month-old daughter, Eva.