NEWS AND NOTES

July 11, 2005

Unqualified Success
In the inaugural Women's World Match Play, at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J., 60th-seeded Marisa Baena (left) outlasted 47th-seed Meena Lee 1 up to win the $500,000 first prize--the largest in tour history--and a three-year exemption on the LPGA tour. Before the Match Play, the 28-year-old Baena had only nonexempt status.

"One of my biggest problems with medal play is that I get bored and start thinking of other stuff. With match play, I'm always on edge."--MARISA BAENA

MORE MASTERS CHANGES
AUGUSTA NATIONAL is being lengthened approximately another 155 yards, from 7,290 yards to 7,445. The additional yardage will come at the par-3 4th hole (205 yards to 240); the par-4 1st (435 yards to 455 ), 7th (410 yards to 450), 11th (490 yards to 505) and 17th (425 yards to 440); and the par-5 15th (500 yards to 530).

STUD PLAYER
If you think Michelle Wie is a long shot to win this week at the John Deere Classic, consider Rocco Mediate (right). On Thursday, Mediate, a veteran of nine whole months of online tournament play, will join several thousand other hopefuls in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

"My goal is to make it past my first day--or at least more than 15 minutes," says Mediate. "For me, this'll be harder than Pinehurst." --Chris Lewis

Chris Couch's Pitch Yip Cure
Chris Couch, 32, holds the dubious distinction of being the Nationwide tour's alltime money winner ($923,765). After a 13th-place finish at the Cialis Western Open, Couch (right) may be better known for something else: From 80 yards and in, he plays his shots with a cross-handed grip. Why? "I couldn't get rid of the yips," Couch says.

The solution came from his coach, Mark McCann, who had seen cross-handed players in his native South Africa. It took Couch two months to get comfortable with the grip, and he's been using it in tournament play since the 2004 John Deere Classic. "The hardest thing for me," he says, "was not worrying that people would look at me funny." --G.V.S.

TRIPLE PLAY
Champions tour rookie Ron Streck, 50, led wire-to-wire at the Commerce Bank Championship at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, N.Y., his first victory in 18 starts. Streck (left) opened with a nine-under 62, the best score of his pro career, and never looked back while becoming the first player to win on the Nationwide (1993 Yuma Open), PGA (1978 Texas Open, '81 Houston Open) and Champions tours.

Plus ...

Seve Out Seve Ballesteros (below) withdrew from next week's British Open, telling tournament officials, "I am still not at the competitive level I would expect." Ballesteros's spot will be filled by fellow Spaniard José María Olaàbal, the highest-ranked player yet to qualify.

This Just In At the Western Open Bart Bryant, Billy Mayfair and Pat Perez qualified for the British Open. The winner of this week's John Deere Classic also qualifies. Michelle Wie?

Augusta North? Walter Driver, 60, has been nominated as the next president of the USGA. The Atlanta native succeeds Fred Ridley, becoming the second straight Augusta National member to run the association and the third on the current 15-person committee.

COLOR PHOTOBEVERLY SCHAEFER/REUTERS (BAENA) COLOR PHOTOAUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB/AP (AUGUSTA)Augusta's 11th will be a 505-yard par-4. COLOR PHOTOANN HEISENFELD/AP (MEDIATE) TWO COLOR PHOTOS COLOR PHOTOMICHAEL COHEN/WIREIMAGE.COM (STRECK) COLOR PHOTOTREVOR JONES/ALLSPORT (BALLESTEROS)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)