A Different Winner This Week on LPGA

By Associated PressApril 23, 2008, 4:00 pm
Stanford International Pro-AmAVENTURA, Fla. -- Lorena Ochoa wont win on the LPGA Tour this week. James Blake, however, has a chance.
 
Having decided that four wins in successive weeks'a feat not seen in 45 years'was enough, Ochoa is skipping the inaugural Stanford International Pro-Am, which begins Thursday just north of Miami.
 
Even without the tours overwhelmingly dominant player, theres no shortage of star power. Annika Sorenstam, Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer and South Florida natives Morgan Pressel and Cristie Kerr are in the field, along with an array of celebrities, including Blake and fellow tennis star Ivan Lendl, baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and actor James Caan.
 
The pros will play 72 holes; the celebs, 54, which will surely provide enough time for some embarrassing moments.
 
Its going to be different, Sorenstam said.
 
And she wasnt even talking about the fact that someone other than Ochoa will hoist a winners trophy on Sunday afternoon.
 
Ochoa has won 10 of her last 15 starts, including the last four by a combined 26 strokes. Sorenstam won four straight starts, albeit not in consecutive weeks, in 2001, so she can certainly understand why, even in Ochoas absence, why the Mexican remains the talk of the tour this week.
 
I wish you would ask me how it would feel to try to go to five in a row, I miss those times and hopefully I get that later this year. Its obviously a great time for Lorena. I hope shes enjoying it. Theres pressure, but then by the end of the day, its fun.
 
Theres pressure and fun awaiting the amateurs this week as well.
 
Take Caan, for example. He was an Academy Award nominee for his role in The Godfather, and still gets plenty of questions about his work in Misery and Brians Song.
 
Yet when he gets to the tee box with partner Christina Kim on Thursday morning, he might not be quite ready for action.
 
Ill be more nervous than I was in any of those former things that you mentioned, said Caan, who quipped that he plans to take shots of valium every two or three holes.
 
Mingling with low-handicappers'and, yes, even high-handicappers'is a regular happening on the mens and womens tours, where deep-pocketed amateurs shell out big cash for the chance to spend a day playing alongside a pro on the Wednesday before a tournament begins.
 
Those are usually low-stress events.
 
But the pros are vying this week for a $300,000 winners check, so theyll have their own games to worry about.
 
Normally in the pro-ams, I try and help, Kerr said. I give tips and try and teach, Hey, you should grip it more like this or try this with your technique or stay still with your putting. But this is going to be different. Its going to be, I think, a little awkward for the amateurs, because theyre going to want to feel like they dont want to mess us up. And were going to try and stay out of their way as well.
 
Blake, the No. 8 mens tennis player in the world, could be contending for top honors this week on the clay in Monte Carlo. Instead, hes playing on grass at Turnberry, teaming with Creamer, currently fourth in the womens world rankings.
 
He feels more than a little outside his comfort zone.
 
Im a little scared because its the first time Ill be playing with a gallery, said Blake, who carries around a 13 handicap and plays two or three times a week when hes not entered in a tennis tournament. And I dont think the gallery will be ready for the slice like mine.
 
Creamer asked Blake to be her teammate during a chance meeting in a mall where they bumped into one another. Theyve paired up once before, at a member-guest event on a course where Blake is a member.
 
Its going to be fun. Im going to have a great time, I know that, Blake said. Shes one of the best golfers in the world. Ive played with her a couple of times before and its fun just to see how good those guys are. Suck up my pride a little and lose badly to a girl.
 
Notes:
Se Ri Pak was among the early entrants who withdrew; Kelli Kuehne will take her spot in the field. Two courses will be used for Thursday and Fridays rounds; only the Soffer Course, which is slightly longer and probably considerably tougher than the Miller Course, will be used on the weekend. Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, who missed the cut in all six of her LPGA starts last year, is in this weeks field.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.