LPGA carries on without Ochoa Blasberg

By Associated PressMay 13, 2010, 2:37 am

LPGA Tour _newMOBILE, Ala. – The Bell Micro LPGA Classic will have two big voids, for vastly different reasons.

The tour had already braced for the loss of newly retired star Lorena Ochoa, but now moves on without Erica Blasberg as well with the tournament starting Thursday.

The 25-year-old Blasberg died Sunday in suburban Las Vegas, and her agent said she had been all set to attempt to qualify for the field at Magnolia Grove on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Blasberg had competed in only one LPGA event this year.

“She was more than a golfer,” said Michelle Wie, who played on the Curtis Cup team with Blasberg. “She was a really great person. She was always really sweet. Obviously (I’m) really sad about it.”

Police haven’t said how Blasberg died or if they suspect foul play.

The grieving competitors, meanwhile, will refocus on trying to fill the large hole left by Ochoa.

The event will be played on the 6,532-yard, par-72 Crossings Course. The tournament wasn’t held last year while the course underwent heavy renovations, much of it focused on the back nine.

New water features were added and a number of sand bunkers were moved, redone or eliminated.

Angela Stanford has good memories of the course where she took a one-stroke win over Shanshan Feng in 2008.

“The course has changed, but still a bunch of good vibes,” Stanford said. “You’re hitting some similar shots. The greens are firm, and it seems like in certain spots it’s a little bit longer. So I think it’s going to be interesting. For me, personally, it almost seems a little more difficult because you’re gonna have to be more strategic about how you hit your irons into these greens.”

All but one of the top 11 players in the world in the world rankings, including 22-year-old Jiyai Shin, who supplanted Ochoa in the No. 1 spot. The South Korean golfer said that new ranking supplies motivation.

“I feel like there’s nothing different, just my status is different,” Shin said. “My mind, my skill is the same but just my thinking changed because I have to keep the number one now, so I need more training.”

Morgan Pressel is coming off a win in Japan LPGA’s Salonpas Cup, while No. 2-ranked Ai Miyazato got her third LPGA Tour title of the season at the Tres Maria Championship two weeks ago in Ochoa’s sixth-place finale.

No. 6 Anna Nordqvist withdrew on Tuesday because of illness.

Wie, who is ranked No. 8 and coming off a third-place finish in Mexico, thinks the burden of replacing Ochoa falls on everyone competing.

“I think we all have a responsibility for that,” she said. “I think all of us, including me. I’m just trying to play as well as I can and provide the best golf out there. Trying the play the best I can.

“Hopefully that provides a lot of entertainment and brings the tour to a whole new level. I think all the players are really striving towards that. We’re just all just working together to make a better product.”

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.