Kerr Holds Off Ochoa for Title

By Associated PressJuly 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- Even with the silver trophy at her side, Cristie Kerr felt uneasy sharing the premonition she had all year about coming to Pine Needles and winning the U.S. Women's Open.
 
She might not have scripted it quite like this.
 
With a swing she spent the weekend trying to fix, Kerr played the final 45 holes with only two bogeys. She three-putted only once all week on the treacherous Donald Ross greens by using a putter she purchased at a pro shop in South Korea.
 
Cristie Kerr
Cristie Kerr holds tight to her U.S. Women's Open trophy. (Getty Images)
And going head-to-head with the No. 1 player in the world Sunday afternoon, Kerr drilled an 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole to take the lead and then watched as Lorena Ochoa made another series of mistakes down the stretch in a major.
 
'When I stepped on the grounds this week, it was just magic,' Kerr said after closing with a 1-under 70 for a two-shot victory over Ochoa and Angela Park to end her 0-for-41 drought in the majors.
 
'Going head-to-head with Lorena and beating her ... it was special memories. You can't make this stuff up,' she said. 'These are thing you take to the grave and you just smile about.'
 
It was all too familiar for Ochoa.
 
With a chance to capture her first major and remove any doubt about who's the best in her sport, Ochoa struggled again with a quick swing under pressure and failed to hit a green in regulation over the final five holes.
 
'It hurts, but I did everything I could,' Ochoa said.
 
The 25-year-old Mexican star closed with a 71 to tie for second with Park, an 18-year-old rookie who birdied the final hole for a 70. Morgan Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, was two shots behind with five holes remaining until playing them in 5 over par for a 77, leaving the course in tears.
 
The celebration belonged to Kerr, who dropped to her knees and cried after tapping in for par on the final hole. She tossed her golf ball to fans who had circled the green, then leapt into the arms of her husband, Erik Stevens.
 
Kerr finished at 5-under 279 and earned $560,000 for her 10th career victory.
 
'It's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,' she said.
 
Kerr had been left out of most conversations about top young American players, with most of the attention going to Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Pressel. No one can ignore her now, not with her name ready to be engraved right below Annika Sorenstam on the biggest trophy in women's golf.
 
'I don't know if slighted was the right word; maybe overlooked a little bit,' Kerr said. 'But the media is the media, and they'll write that they want to write. I know in my heart of hearts who I am and how many wins I have and what I've done. And that's good enough for me.'
 
Ochoa will have to wait until the Women's British Open at St. Andrews for her next shot at winning a major, which is quickly turning into a bigger burden than she imagined. She's now 0-for-23 in the tournaments that define careers.
 
'I don't need to be frustrated,' Ochoa said. 'We still have one more major, and I'm going to try to get that one.'
 
Storm delays forced 63 players to return at dawn Sunday to complete the third round, and Kerr promptly made bogey. She didn't make many more mistakes after that, and her only other bogey on a steamy, sunny day in the sand hills came from a bunker on the eighth hole of the final round that dropped her into a tie with Ochoa.
 
They each made par on the next five holes, with Ochoa missing a great birdie chance from 8 feet on the 13th. It was typical of her long day, which began with Ochoa missing three putts inside 7 feet at the end of the third round, two of them for par.
 
Then came the decisive birdie on No. 14, where Kerr ripped a drive and hit 4-iron from 190 yards that hopped onto the green and stopped about 18 feet behind the cut.
 
'If you hit a good shot, you can put some pressure on the other person,' Kerr said. 'I ended up hitting an unbelievable shot and making an unbelievable putt.'
 
After Kerr's birdie on the 14th, Ochoa never hit another green in regulation.
 
She tends to miss to the left under pressure, a flaw that exposed itself again in the late afternoon. Ochoa went left into a bunker on the par-5 15th, a hole she could have reached in two from the fairway. She had to save par from 15 feet to stay in the game.
 
The pivotal moment came on No. 17, one of the toughest at Pine Needles.
 
Kerr hit a draw around the dogleg left into the fairway, leaving her only a 7-iron to the green. Ochoa, as she did in the morning, tried to hammer a driver over the trees, but the ball nicked the top of the trees, dropping into a bunker. Ochoa caught her fairway metal heavy and moved it only 60 yards, hit a solid shot to 20 feet but missed the par putt.
 
'I was trying to put the ball on the green and just swung a little bit too fast, and I hit the ball on the top,' Ochoa said of her 5-wood out of the bunker. 'It happens.'
 
That gave Kerr a two-shot lead heading to the 18th, and she drilled another one right down the middle, then followed that with an approach safely on the green and a lag to 2 feet.
 
'When I hit it up there close, I had known I had won,' she said. 'It was hard to fight back the tears, because I had envisioned this since I was a little girl.'
 
This major was a long time coming for Kerr, a pioneer of sorts for women who now routinely skip college. She turned pro when she graduated high school, won in her sixth year on tour and has not finished out of the top five on the LPGA money list the last three years.
 
Kerr got into contention by finishing off a 66 in the morning to take a one-shot lead, and she never wavered. Ochoa had a chance to share the 54-hole lead until she three-putted for bogey from 30 feet, settling for a 68 that left her tied with Pressel (69).
 
Ochoa had ample opportunities, but her best putts were for par.
 
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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


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    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.