Leaders Seeking Breakthrough Victory

By Associated PressMay 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 SemGroup ChampionshipBROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- Lorena Ochoa's charge fizzled Saturday in the second round of the SemGroup Championship.
 
Ochoa got off to an eagle-birdie start, but a double bogey at No. 15 spoiled her round and left the top-ranked Mexican star three strokes behind leaders Stephanie Louden, Nicole Castrale, Karin Sjodin and Reilley Rankin.
 
The four leaders, tied at 4-under 138, are all seeking their first LPGA Tour win.
 
'No matter who is up there, I know that I have played just as well as they have, and I want to win just as much as they do,' said Sjodin, a former Oklahoma State star who leads the tour in driving distance.
 
Rankin shot a 3-under 68, Louden had a 69, Sjodin a 70 and Castrale a 71.
 
'Of course it's better to have those names up there than Annika (Sorenstam) and Lorena,' Sjodin said. 'But I still think if I had played just as well as them so far, I can do it tomorrow as well.'
 
Rankin's 68 matched Mi Hyun Kim and Young Kim for the low round of the day on a windy, but much drier course at Cedar Ridge Country Club. Mi Hyun Kim and Angela Stanford (71) were one stroke behind the leaders. Se Ri Pak (71), Katherine Hull (69) and Virada Nirapathpongporn (70) were tied for seventh, two strokes off the lead.
 
Pak, who has 23 career wins, is the only player among the top nine that has more than one career victory. Stanford is the only other with even one win, and it came at the 2003 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
 
Seven players were three strokes back, including Juli Inkster (70) and Ochoa (71), who took over the No. 1 ranking from Sorenstam last week.
 
Ochoa had birdie putts at the fourth and fifth holes slide just past the right edge of the cup, and her round soon took a turn for the worse. The wind caught her tee shot at No. 6 and dropped it on the far side of the green. She three-putted for bogey to fall to 2 under.
 
Ochoa ripped a drive well beyond 300 yards to straighten out a dogleg right and set up a birdie at the 399-yard par-4 seventh. She had another birdie at No. 10, and bogeys at the eighth and 13th holes before misjudging the wind at the 185-yard 15th.
 
'I hit it the way I wanted to hit it. I hit it so low that the wind didn't even touch the ball. I ended up on the back of the green,' the Mexican star said.
 
'Sometimes it's just a learning experience. It would be different if you miss a shot and end up in the water or hit a tree or something. I hit the perfect shot, but just ended up in a bad spot. I will learn from that and not do it again.'
 
A day earlier, Ochoa said she hoped to perhaps play a low round on Cinco de Mayo 'for my Mexicans.' She wore a light green polo shirt and sweater and white shorts, and she appeared poised to take over the tournament after she reached the green on the 520-yard, par-5 opening hole in two shots. She then knocked down a 30-footer for eagle with her putter featuring a green, white and red grip.
 
She drilled her tee shot within 5 feet on the next hole, then curved in her birdie putt. That ended up being the high point of her day.
 
'Obviously, I'm not very happy with that double bogey on the par 3. It doesn't feel good. The good thing is that I'm only three shots behind the leaders, and I'm feeling good with my game,' Ochoa said. 'I think I hit the ball very solid today, gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities.'
 
To earn her first win as the world No. 1, she'll have to make up ground.
 
Castrale, the first-round leader, holed out a 6-iron for eagle at No. 4 for her second chip-in of the tournament. She pitched in on the third hole Friday.
 
'There are a lot of great players on the leaderboard, whether they've won or not,' said Castrale, who played in college at Southern California.
 
Louden, who birdied the first two holes, held the lead for a time after two more birdies at the ninth and 11th holes got her to 6 under. She had bogeys at Nos. 13 and 16.
 
Rankin was the last of the leaders on the course and had a chance to take the outright lead, but had a long birdie putt skate just right of the hole. Her knees buckled after watching the putt roll past the hole.
 
Still, being atop the leaderboard capped a yearlong struggle to regain her form.
 
'I call it Reilley's world. It doesn't matter how I do it. I just do it,' said Rankin, who's never finished higher than fourth at a tour event. 'And I don't have to know or be able to explain it to somebody.
 
'That's what makes me good is to just play like that. I have to play my way.'
 
Defending champion Cristie Kerr, who set the course record with a 61 in the second round last year, missed the cut after shooting a 77.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

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    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''