Creamer Ochoa Sorenstam all in the mix

By Associated PressOctober 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 Samsung World ChampionshipHALF MOON BAY, Calif. ' Ji-Yai Shin became a household name back home in South Korea and even somewhat in Japan after she won the Womens British Open in August.
Now, the 20-year-old Shin is interested in raising her profile in the United States ' with regular success on the LPGA.
She shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday to take the first-day lead in the Samsung World Championship, topping Paula Creamers 68 that featured a birdie on 17 following a bogey on the previous hole.
Everybody knows me as the British Open champion, Shin said. In Korea, the players say: Dont come back to Korea. Go play in America.
Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam were only 17 minutes into their rounds and on the second fairway as the last twosome to start when the horn sounded and play was suspended for 26 minutes because of dense fog. It was eerie at times in the fog, with the crash of ocean waves serving as background noise as players searched for the flag before they hit.
Ochoa, the world No. 1 and two-time defending Samsung champion, and five-time winner Sorenstam each missed tough birdie putts on 18 to finish among five players at 69, two strokes off the lead.
That never happened before, Ochoa said of the fog. For sure we had to stop. You couldnt see the flag. It was kind of a weird start. After that I got a couple of birdies and got back on track.
Both Ochoa and Sorenstam received warm ovations at the first tee. Ochoa was even through the front nine with two bogeys before chipping in from 35 yards for eagle on No. 10 to move to 2 under. She high-fived her caddie after the clutch shot.
Creamer was held up at the sixth tee, where the fog was at its thickest on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links.
We were right in the middle ' seven, eight and nine were fine, she said. I thought, We cant do this. This rough is so thick. If you miss it a little bit it could be a lost ball. So, we just stopped. It wasnt worth it. Im glad we waited. We couldnt see down our fairway. I was feeling good about how I was playing. I didnt want to go in. I had the momentum going.
Shin was delayed on No. 10 and didnt mind the break after playing a fast front nine in under 2 hours.
Maybe it was helpful for me, she said. It gave me a little extra time.
Yani Tseng, who is leading the Rookie of the Year race and ranked third, also had a 69. She played with her right arm wrapped with a special tape because of nagging elbow tendinitis. At 19, Tseng is the youngest in the elite 20-player field this week. The first day on the 6,450-yard course was warm and breezy alongside the Pacific Ocean ' with picturesque views in the late afternoon once the fog lifted for good.
Mist swirled above the green on the opening hole and by No. 2, Ochoa and Sorenstam could hardly see where their ball traveled let alone watch it land. The situation wasnt considered dangerous, just more frustrating because of the lack of visibility.
Sorenstam entertained the friendly crowd during the delay by plopping down on a ridge off the fairway and above a bunker and trying to blow grass between her lips to make it squeak. Someone else did it behind her and Sorenstam finally mastered the move.
All right, Annika!
She acknowledged them and chuckled.
Ochoa had her share of fans from her native Mexico in the large gallery, some carrying their countrys flag.
Lorena, mi amor! one supporter yelled ' Lorena, my love.
Buena suerte! a young girl called out ' Good luck!
Sorenstam, making her farewell tour this season, has won a record five Samsungs but acknowledged coming into this event she isnt playing her best golf. Still, she birdied Nos. 15 and 16 to stay high on the leaderboard.
Creamer and Angela Stanford (69) were the only ones to birdie the par-4, 394-yard first hole. Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Suzann Pettersen each bogeyed the opening hole and all three finished the day over par.
Creamer ' who grew up in nearby Pleasanton and still puts added pressure on herself to do well in Northern California ' also birdied the 500-yard, par-5 eighth hole. She pitched from 35 yards out to a foot of the pin.
I hit my irons great today, Creamer said. I gave myself so many opportunities. My speed putting was probably the best Ive ever had in a round of golf. Ill take 4-under. Ill take where Im at. We have three days left. Thats a lot of golf.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Samsung World Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

    Getty Images

    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.