Kim leads Ochoa and Wie struggle in Phoenix

By Associated PressMarch 26, 2009, 4:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newPHOENIX ' South Koreas In-Kyung Kim shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International, while two-time defending champion Lorena Ochoa and Michelle Wie struggled in windy afternoon conditions.
Kim had a one-stroke lead over countrywomen Jiyai Shin, Imbee Park and Eun-Hee Ji and American Cristie Kerr, who eagled the final hole, and Norways Suzann Pettersen, who finished with a birdie.
The wind gusts were measured as high as 39 mph at Papago, the recently renovated, difficult municipal layout in its first year as the tournament site after five seasons at Superstition Mountain.
On the back nine, it was quite windy, Kim said. It was on and off, so it was a little difficult to adjust the yardage. It was tougher on and around the greens because it was so dry out there. There was not much spin around the greens.
Ochoa, showing anger at times over her disappointments, opened with a 72.
Wie, the 19-year-old Stanford sophomore still seeking her first tour victory, shot a 73 in her first tournament since the season opener.
Wie admitted it was a hard day, with the wind and everything.
I felt a little rusty, she said. I made a couple of stupid mistakes.
Pat Hurst, the Mastercard Classic winner last week in Mexico, had a 76.
Kim had five birdies and an eagle.
I three-putted at No. 3, but other than that, it was a solid round, Kim said.
The highlight of her round was an eagle at the par-5, 475-yard 18th, where she chipped in from 20 feet.
Although this is Kims fourth tournament of 2009 and she has yet to crack the top 25 in any event, she described her golf this year as very decent.
But the putts werent going in as expected, she added.
This is Kims first tournament after a two-week hiatus and she said her time off was boring,
She was, however, very concentrated Thursday. I was ready to play golf today, she said.
Kerr, who lives in Scottsdale, eagled No. 10 in addition to her closing eagle.
It was almost like torture in the wind, Kerr said. But I didnt try too hard. If you try too hard, you wont be able to control your shots in the wind. I controlled the ball very well today.
Kerr played in the afternoon and thought the golfers who played earlier had a one- or two-shot advantage.
I knew if I could put a good round together today, tomorrow would be to my advantage, said Kerr, who will play in the morning Friday. A little less wind would be appreciated. But I played a phenomenal round today.
Shin had a spectacular finish, with birdies at 16 and 17, and a 12-foot eagle putt at 18, moving her from 1 over to 3 under. Shin, the HSBC Womens Champions winner in Singapore this month, is a 20-year-old rookie on the tour.
Before becoming an LPGA member, she won three tournaments last year, the British Open, a major, and the Mizuno Classic and the season-ending ADT Championship, where she received $1 million.
Her professional career, as a member of the Korean LPGA, included seven victories in 15 starts and seven additional top-eight finishes. As an amateur, Shin had five victories as a member of the Korean national team.
Today, I started with a birdie, so I felt comfortable, Shin said. But on the first nine holes, my putting is always short. So, on the back nine, I tried to hit longer drives. At 16 and 17, it was easy to make birdies, and at No. 18, I made an eagle.
Kris Tamulis even bettered that. She aced the par-3, 158-yard second hole, using an 8-iron.
Ochoa apparently was bothered by the wind and the hard greens, noting they were harder than at Superstition Mountain in Gold Canyon.
One of Ochoas angry moments came at the 13th. After hitting the ball well past the green, she slammed her club into the ground. She then appeared relieved after making a par putt.
As winner the past two years, the worlds No. 1 player and winner of 25 tournaments overall, Ochoa was the overwhelming favorite. But she didnt play like it.
Ochoa even admitted she lost patience on the 16th hole, but was satisfied that she closed with a birdie.
I finished the day strong, she said. But I felt I left a few shots out there.
Pettersen called the wind ridiculous.
I knew the wind was going to blow, but this was surreal, she said. There isnt even any shotmaking out there. You can try, but no chance. You have to be really creative.
This is the first LPGA tournament of the season on the U.S. mainland and a prelude to next weeks Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the season, at Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Darkness prevented nine players from finishing the round, but none of those players was close to the leader.
Every active player among last years top 100 money winners and the top 90 from this year committed to the tournament, but late withdrawals were Paula Creamer, fourth last week in Mexico and fourth on this seasons money winning list, and Grace Park.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Phoenix LPGA International
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.