Ochoa in Familiar Position in Vegas

By Associated PressApril 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Lorena Ochoa collected two eagles on Thursday en route to a 9-under-par 63 and the first-round lead at the LPGA Takefuji Classic.
 
Ochoa, who lost a playoff to Karrie Webb two weeks ago at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, equaled her own course record at Las Vegas Country Club on Thursday. She originally set the mark in the second round last year.
 
Wendy Ward
Defending champion Wendy Ward is four back after a 5-under 67.
Shi Hyun Ahn matched the course record of Ochoa in the final round in 2005, and she kept her momentum going in the first round this year. Ahn fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday and is alone in second place.
 
This is a rare 54-hole event that begins on Thursday and ends on Saturday.
 
Ochoa, who registered a double-eagle in Wednesday's Pro-Am, started poorly on Thursday. She knocked her second shot over the green at the par-4 first, and two-putted for bogey from 5 feet. That would be the last blemish on the scorecard for the fifth-ranked player in the world.
 
At the par-3 third, Ochoa hit a 7-iron to 10 feet to set up birdie. She made it two in a row thanks to a beautiful wedge shot at the fourth that left Ochoa with a tap-in birdie.
 
Ochoa recorded her first eagle at the par-5 sixth when she hit a 5-wood to the back fringe with her second shot. She rolled in the 30-footer and parred the next three holes to make the turn at 3-under-par 33.
 
Ochoa picked up where she left off on the back nine. She two-putted for birdie from 35 feet at the par-5 10th, then wedged her approach to 12 feet to set up another birdie at No. 11.
 
She parred the 12th, but hit a pitching-wedge to 3 feet at 13. Ochoa rolled in the short birdie putt, then collected her second birdie in a row at the par-3 14th. Ochoa pulled an 8-iron and landed the ball 13 feet from the hole. That birdie putt moved her into a tie for the lead at minus-7.
 
Ochoa's second eagle of the round came at Las Vegas Country Club's closing hole. At the 495-yard hole, Ochoa hit a 5-wood to 12 feet and drained the eagle putt to move into sole possession of the top spot on the leaderboard at 9 under par.
 
'It was a really good day,' acknowledged Ochoa, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour. 'I hit all of the fairways, and I keep looking at the flag and making putts, so it was a great run. I enjoyed it.'
 
Ochoa is not just riding a hot streak from her play two weeks ago. She fired a final-round, 7-under 65 last year, but ultimately came up two strokes short as Wendy Ward went on to the winner's circle.
 
'I enjoy playing here,' said Ochoa. 'The conditions were perfect in the morning. It is a tricky golf course. You have to think about the hole and make the right decision on the tee and get the right line.'
 
Ahn was inconsistent on the front nine as she traded three birdies and two bogeys. On the back nine, Ahn used an amazing run, starting at the 11th, to soar up the leaderboard.
 
Ahn rolled in four straight, 12-foot birdie putts. At the par-4 15th, Ahn hit a pitching-wedge to 10 feet to set up her fifth consecutive birdie. Her final birdie came at 16 when her 7-iron stopped nine feet from the flagstick.
 
'I wasn't trying to make birdies,' admitted Ahn, whose only win on the LPGA Tour came at the 2003 CJ Nine Bridges Classic. 'I was just trying to stay calm and focus, then play it shot-by-shot.'
 
Ward opened her title defense impressively with a 5-under-par 67. She is tied for third place with Teresa Lu, Miriam Nagl, Jee Young Lee, Maria Hjorth, Jimin Kang, Mi Hyun Kim, Ashli Bunch and Seon Hwa Lee.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - LPGA Takefuji Classic
  • Full Coverage - LPGA Takefuji Classic
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm