Ochoa Annika Fall on Day 2

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2007, 4:00 pm
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Meaghan Francella knocked off another top-ranked player, beating Lorena Ochoa on Friday in the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
Francella, an LPGA Tour rookie from nearby Port Chester, thrilled her large, vocal gallery with a 1-up, second-round victory over Ochoa, the Mexican star who won the 2006 Sybase Classic on the Wykagyl Country Club course.
'The whole day was pretty stressful to be honest with you,' Francella said. 'I just tried to stay patient and hit one shot at a time.'
In March in Mexico, Francella beat Annika Sorenstam -- then the No. 1 player -- on the fourth hole of a playoff to win the MasterCard Classic for her first tour title.
'My hands were probably shaking more against Annika,' Francella said. 'I just felt pretty confident all day.'
After losing the par-4 14th with a bogey, Francella took the par-4 15th and par-5 16th with pars to take a 1-up lead. They matched pars on the par-3 17th and Francella finished off Ochoa with a conceded birdie on the par-5 18th.
'She's not afraid,' Ochoa said. 'You know, good for her.'
Facing a blind second shot on 18, Francella hit a 3-wood onto the green.
'I just picked out a cloud,' she said. 'I didn't know where it went and then I heard the claps and I figured, 'OK, we're at the front.' And then I got there and I'm like, 'Unbelievable, 30 feet for eagle.''
Ochoa dropped out along with No. 3 Annika Sorenstam, No. 5 Se Ri Pak, No. 7 Suzann Pettersen and No. 8 Paula Creamer, leaving No. 10 Mi Hyun Kim as the top remaining seed in the final 16.
'I'm going to try not to think too much,' Ochoa said. 'I'll try to be positive and relax the next couple of days and get ready for the next few tournaments.'
No. 35 Lindsey Wright beat Sorenstam 3 and 2.
'She played very well,' Sorenstam said. 'She didn't make many mistakes and rolled in some putts. ... I had two bad shots and that was it.'
Making her fourth start since returning from disk injuries in her back and neck, Sorenstam also struggled Thursday in a 20-hole win over No. 62 Katherine Hull.
'Luckily, I feel good,' Sorenstam said.
Wright is staying at Francella's house in Port Chester.
'I've known Meaghan for a few years,' the Australian said. 'I met her dad and he's a character. Her mom's great. They've been really nice and supportive.'
No. 37 Christina Kim beat Pak 4 and 2 to set up a third-round match against No. 12 Ai Miyazato, a 4-and-2 winner over Sherri Steinhauer.
Maria Hjorth edged Creamer 1-up, with both players blowing three-hole leads before the Swede won with a two-putt birdie on 18.
With wind gusts making club selection difficult on the hilly, tree-lined course, Creamer was 3-up after five, lost six of the next nine holes, then took 15, 16 and 17.
'I played OK in the beginning and then the middle kind of just fell apart,' Creamer said. 'She hits it so far and a lot of holes today were playing pretty long. So, it was like my 4-iron against her 9-iron, and that's kind of hard to do.'
Hjorth won with a 5-footer after Creamer's 10-foot birdie try slid below the cup.
'I thought I should have finished it off a little bit earlier,' said Hjorth, seeded 40th. 'All square coming down the last, you just have to forget about everything. It's just a one-hole playoff and you try to make the best out of it.'
Francella will play 17th-seeded Pat Hurst in the third round. Hurst beat 16th-seeded Stacy Prammanasudh 3 and 1.
Hjorth will face Angela Stanford, with the survivor playing the Francella-Hurst winner in the quarterfinals. The 24th-seeded Stanford beat Hye Jung Choi 5 and 4.
Wright set up a match with No. 14 Jeong Jang, a 2-and-1 winner over Angela Park.
Mi Hyun Kim will face Rachel Hetherington. The 39th-seeded Hetherington beat Pettersen, the LPGA Championship winner, 1-up.
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.