Ochoa Blows Away the Field

By Associated PressMarch 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Safeway International pres by CocaColaSUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Three big Mexican flags fluttered in the brisk wind above crowd at the 18th hole. Lorena Ochoa had made her country proud again.
 
Cheered on by a big, enthusiastic gallery, Ochoa left her pursuers in the desert dust on Sunday to successfully defend her title at the Safeway International with a dominating seven-stroke victory.
 
The 26-year-old sensation shot a 6-under 66 to finish at 22-under 266. She won for the second time in three tries in the young LPGA Tour season.
 
It was the lowest score, by four shots, in the five years the tournament has been held at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
 
Ochoa turned the tournament into a rout with birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes, then punctuated her 19th career tour victory with a birdie tap-in on the 18th.
 
It was a great day, she said, especially the back nine.
 
The worlds No. 1-ranked female golfer and the LPGA Tour player of the year the past two seasons won eight times last year and has 16 victories in her last 53 starts.
 
Among those who followed her every move around the course in the large gathering was a man who waved held one of those Mexican flags.
 
It was very nice to see the support and feel the love. They care so much, she said. The know that I play not only for me but for all of them.
 
Ochoa thrives on being an example for her countrymen and women.
 
Im just trying to give back something, she said. Im trying to really fight for my dreams and always trying to keep my head up.
 
Now she sees youngsters playing golf in Mexico where before it was just her.
 
I see them and they say, `Hey, I want to be like you, and that feels very nice, she said. So I try to be a positive influence for them and just to kelp in any way I can, you know, for all of them.
 
Her would-be rivals faded under a bright blue sky with temperatures in the mid-80s and a brisk easterly wind at the foot of the Superstition Mountains, about 40 miles east of Phoenix.
 
South Koreas Jee Young Lee, who began the day one shot back, shot an even-par 72 to finish at 15 under. The 22-year-old Lee was paired with Ochoa, a match of two of the bigger hitters on tour.
 
Ochoa was asked who was longer on Sunday.
 
I think me, she said, laughing. We were close all day, but we were counting, and I think I got her by two.
 
Through her interpreter, Lee said she watched the way Ochoa handled the pressure.
 
Shes a great player, Lee said. She knows how to keep pace. Thats something I really need to learn from her. She always kept steady.
 
Minea Blomqvist of Finland (66) was third at 14 under, her best LPGA finish.
 
The LPGAs lone Arizona stop has the largest attendance of any tour event, but it faces an uncertain future because Safeway is dropping its sponsorship.
 
Ochoa, who earned $225,000, has said she would do whatever she could to keep the tournament alive. She called the open, desert layout her favorite course on the tour. She attended the University of Arizona and the event is close enough for her Mexican fans to come to watch her play. She had eight birdies, and two early bogeys, on the 6,662-yard Prospector course.
 
Angela Stanford, who broke the course record with a career-best 10-under 62 in the opening round, tied with Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea and Maria Hjorth of Sweden at 12 under.
 
The final round had the look of a shootout when it began, with Ochoa at 16 under, just one shot up on Lee and Stanford.
 
But her two pursuers faltered, especially Stanford, who shot a 2-over 74, including a triple bogey on the par-5, 552-yard 13th.
 
Stanford pulled even with Ochoa with a birdie on the first hole. But Ochoa took the lead for good with a birdie on the par-3 fourth.
 
Leta Lindley aced the 188-yard eighth hole with a 5-wood. She finished with a 68 to tie for 22nd at 7 under.
 
The tour moves next week to Rancho Mirage, Calif., for the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first of the LPGA Tours four majors.
 
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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

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    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

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    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.''