Lorena Looks to Match Annika Lopez

By Associated PressApril 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 SemGroup ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Lorena Ochoa walked across the parking lot at Cedar Ridge, no one within 100 yards of her. She was alone again Wednesday morning in the clubhouse at breakfast, munching fruit and bacon as she sat by herself at a table for eight.
 
It was peculiar to see the LPGA Tours biggest star go virtually unnoticed, but those two scenes illustrated her place in the game.
 
No one is close to her at the moment.
 
Consider what Ochoa accomplished over four consecutive weeks.
 
She beat the strongest field in womens golf by seven shots at the Safeway International outside Phoenix. She won by five shots at the Kraft Nabisco for her second straight major. Before 25,000 delirious fans in her native Mexico, she won by 11 to meet the performance criteria for the World Golf Hall of Fame. And with exhaustion setting in at the Ginn Open, she still won by three shots.
 
I didnt think anyone could get near Annikas record, Laura Davies said. And I think Lorena can give it a good run.
 
One of those records is five straight LPGA victories, which Annika Sorenstam shares with Nancy Lopez. Ochoa can tie the record this week at the SemGroup Championship in the Tulsa suburbs.
 
The field includes defending champion Mi Hyun Kim, U.S. Womens Open champion Cristie Kerr, Juli Inkster and Paula Creamer, who lost in a playoff last week. Among those missing are Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen, the two biggest threats to Ochoas reign.
 
Not that it matters.
 
You play with her and she gets done, and shes 5 under or 6 under, Inkster said. She just doesnt throw shots away. She plays within herself. She could be one shot behind or six shots ahead, and you cant tell the difference.
 
Ochoa takes nothing for granted, even though her game is at a stage where she determines who wins.
 
She barely spoke English when she went to the University of Arizona, and Ochoa continues to expand her vocabulary, but she was stumped Wednesday when a reporter asked her if she was unbeatable.
 
Thats a new word, she said with eyebrows furrowed. I never heard that.
 
So the question was rephrased: Do you feel like no one can beat you?
 
She nodded her head, not in brash confidence, but to show that she finally understood the question.
 
I believe I can beat everybody, Ochoa said. I mean, its never too good to get too comfortable and think nobody can beat you. Its another thing to feel comfortable with your game. But there are so many good players and talented professionals that are close to me. Golf is a crazy game. Anything can happen any week.
 
Only one thing has happened the last four times Ochoa has played'she wins.
 
And she wins big.
 
Ochoa has won five out of six times to start the 2008 season by a combined 37 shots. A year ago, she won eight times by 23 shots.
 
I wouldnt be playing this week if I didnt think I could win it, Davies said. But as soon as Lorenas name gets on the board, it becomes more difficult. Its no different than Tigers name on the board on the mens tour. You dont want to see it there until later in the week. It happened with Annika. And when Webby (Karrie Webb) was at her very best, it was the same with her.
 
But I dont really know with Lorena, Davies added, pausing to smile. Shes so nice. Shes like a quiet assassin. She just takes you apart, and you smile, and you enjoy watching her do it.
 
Key to Ochoa right now is not overdoing it. This is the first of three straight tournaments, and she is having to pay a fine for skipping the LPGA Corning Classic because of the LPGA Tours policy that players compete in every tournament at least once in four years. Ochoa simply doesnt have the time, having to defend eight titles this year and the majors bunched together in the summer.
 
Ochoa spent a week at home, celebrating with family on Monday, spending Tuesday on the couch watching movies, then taking another day off when she didnt feel like practicing. But she went back to the practice range Thursday, and showed up in Tulsa eager to play.
 
Im here because I believe I can win the tournament, and itll be great to do it, she said.
 
Her streak is more similar to Lopez than Sorenstam.
 
Lopez won five straight tournaments in six weeks in 1978, her first full season on the LPGA Tour, and it brought enormous coverage to womens golf. Sorenstam already was famous for playing on the PGA Tour at the Colonial when she ran off five straight victories over six months from 2004-05, including a three-month offseason.
 
The similarity to Sorenstam is in the sheer dominance, but not the style.
 
Lorena is more artistic the way she plays, Inkster said. Shes very feel oriented. She has great imagination. Annika was drive down the fairway, hit the green. She was more robotic. You didnt think anyone could be that good. And now heres Lorena.
 
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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.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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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.''