Creamer Seizes Control as Ochoa Falters

By Associated PressMay 3, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 SemGroup ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Paula Creamer made two long birdie putts to pull away from the field Saturday in the SemGroup Championship, only to drop two shots on the closing holes for the third straight day to give her challengers a chance.
 
But that small group chasing her doesnt include the player everyone expected to see.
 
Lorena Ochoa, going for her record-tying fifth straight LPGA Tour victory, lost momentum with back-to-back bogeys and wound up eight shots behind, needing the best comeback of her career.
 
I still think I can win, Ochoa said. I think Annika (Sorenstam) won before coming from 10 shots behind. It could happen.
 
It doesnt look likely, even with Creamer still trying to figure out how to stop making bogeys with the finish line in sights. A three-putt on the 16th and a bogey from the bunker on the 18th gave her a 2-under 69 and a two-shot lead over Juli Inkster.
 
When I was on the 15th green, my goal was to have a five-shot lead, Creamer said. But Im not going to complain.
 
Inkster, a 47-year-old with two daughters and seven majors, turned in a tournament-best 67 in more blustery conditions, ending her solid round with a 20-foot par putt on the 18th hole after trouble in the trees.
 
I got myself in position to at least give it a run, Inkster said.
 
Creamer was at 3-under 210 and will play in the final pairing Sunday with Inkster, at 212 the only other player under par.
 
Brittany Lang, who tied for second at the 2005 U.S. Womens Open while still an amateur, had a 71 to finish at 1-over 214, with Angela Stanford (71) and Leta Lindley (72) another shot behind.
 
Ochoa closed with six pars for an even-par 71 and was at 5-over 218, putting her in unfamiliar territory. She has won five of her six tournaments this year by a combined 37 shots.
 
Were looking at it from a different perspective, she said. Im going to be positive and hopefully do good tomorrow.
 
The way Creamer is playing, it might not matter.
 
But Creamer is playing well enough that even Ochoas best golf might not be good enough.
 
Coming off a playoff loss in Florida, the 21-year-old made birdies on some of the toughest holes and rarely had to work for pars. Her boost came from an unlikely birdie, some 50 feet below the hole at No. 9 that produced the loudest cheer at Cedar Ridge all week.
 
And she kept right on attacking, taking on the trees from the right rough at No. 11, holing a 35-foot birdie on the 12th and reaching the fringe of the par-5 14th in two to set up a simple birdie and expand her lead.
 
Now if she can only finish cleanly.
 
Creamer three-putted the 16th for the second straight day, and found the bunker on the 18th for the second straight day. The bogeys were the only flaws, though, and even Inkster said she would need a lot of help from Creamer.
 
Im going to need a lot of help from her, Inkster said. Shes just playing good golf right now. And Im going to have to play my A game out there, putting and hitting. But this golf course a lot of things can happen. And I know she knows that. Shes not the type to play it safe. Shes going to play aggressive. Shes going to do what she need to do to win.
 
Ochoa went 27 holes with par or worse until ending that drought on the par-3 second with a tee shot that stopped 4 feet from the hole. The momentum lasted all of one shot, a 3-wood through the fairway into a tough lie in the bunker, and Ochoa was lucky to escape with bogey. Her 8-iron came out so heavy that it was short of the pond, stopping in the shaggy slope.
 
Thats how her week has gone at Cedar Ridge'too few birdies, too many mistakes.
 
It was more of an up-and-down day for me, Ochoa said. At the same time, I was able to post my best round.
 
While she still has hopes, her tournament probably ended on the 11th hole.
 
Ochoa closed out the front nine with back-to-back birdies that charged up the gallery and put her a 3 over, creeping up the leaderboard. But her tee shot on the 11th settled into a slight depression right of the bunker, the ball below her feet. The wind was strong, from right to left, and the ball shot up into the air, carried right of the creek and bounced into the creek.
 
She made a superb chip to save bogey, then hit her approach well right on the 12th and had to make a 10-footer for bogey. It was her third straight round of back-to-back bogeys.
 
What really got me mad was the second shot on No. 12, Ochoa said. Its just playing with the wind so much, sometimes it slides your body and you end up hitting a really bad shot. We still have one more day to turn it around.
 
Divots
 
Ashli Bunch made it through another day without a birdie, the only player at Cedar Ridge without one. She shot a 75. Vicky Hurst, the 17-year-old from Florida, failed to make a birdie in her round of 73 that put her nine shots behind. Hurst used a local caddie the first two days, but replaced him Saturday with her mother.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.