Ochoa Defends Looks to Solidify Ranking

By Associated PressMay 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Sybase ClassicCLIFTON, N.J. -- Other than being the No. 1 player in the world, Lorena Ochoa won't have an advantage as the defending champion in the Sybase Classic.
The 25-year-old Mexican star will play the 72-hole event on a new old-fashioned course starting Thursday at the Upper Montclair Country Club.
She also is facing one other interesting fact -- she hasn't won since replacing Annika Sorenstam as the No. 1 women's player a month ago.
'There is no pressure on myself. It's just about being consistent every week,' Ochoa said Wednesday after the pro-am. 'I give myself as many chances as I can to win a tournament, and I think it will happen. I never lose my concentration. The important thing is in November at the end of the year to be at the top. One week doesn't mean anything.'
Looking at recent results, Ochoa has nothing to complain about. She has tied for second, fifth and 20th in the three events since taking over at No. 1.
'I've been really feeling good the last few weeks and I feel good with my game,' Ochoa said.
This week, however, will be different. After a 17-year stay at the Wykagyl Country Club, the $1.4 million tournament was moved because of renovations being done at the New Rochelle, N.Y., club.
Wykagyl will remain as an LPGA Tour venue as the site of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship in July.
However, Upper Montclair is not Wykagyl, a course Ochoa loved.
'There is not a great deal of difference because they are old-style, traditional golf courses,' said Beth Daniel, who played here in the Coca-Cola Classic in 1983 using wooden fairway woods. 'Wykagyl probably has a little more movement up and down than this does, so it's a little harder to walk. This course is a little tighter.'
Juli Inkster laughed when asked about what she remembered from Upper Montclair after playing here in 1984. She didn't recall a single hole during her pro-am round on Wednesday.
'In two days you can learn a golf course,' the 46-year-old said. 'Sometimes it's better not to learn everything about a golf course. It's better to know just where you need to hit it.'
The course doesn't appear to favor the long hitters, because the rough can be tough when one misses the fairway.
For the players who went out on Wednesday, they had the advantage of playing the par-72, 6,433-yard course with the wind gusting at times.
'The trees are so big sometimes you can't feel how hard that wind is blowing,' said Meg Mallon, who is playing in her fourth event since being sidelined by a foot injury. 'Over the last couple of days I've had several shots knocked down by the wind. That's local knowledge.'
Mallon was quick to add that it's hard to look past Ochoa when picking the pre-tournament favorites.
'Her game can play on any golf course,' Mallon said.
Ochoa seemingly also is the fan favorite. She was followed around the course by a group of high school girls on Wednesday, and she is bound to have a large Hispanic contingent this week.
'I'm trying to enjoy this as much as I can,' Ochoa said. 'I want to be at the No. 1 position hopefully for many years, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure I maintain myself.'
Octagon Sports Marketing and Upper Montclair have a one-year agreement to play the Sybase Classic at Upper Montclair with multiple options for other years.
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  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.