Ochoa Headlines Stellar Field in the Desert

By Associated PressOctober 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
  PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam won't be dueling in the desert at the Samsung World Championship this time.
 
Ochoa, who rallied from three shots back on the final day to beat Sorenstam a year ago, said she's sorry that Sorenstam isn't playing. But she supports the Swedish star's decision not to use an exemption to get into the elite event.
 
'What happened to her is very understandable, the way she got injured and tried just to slow down and not play as many tournaments,' added Ochoa, who has supplanted Sorenstam as the LPGA Tour's top player.
 
'She has been through a lot. For sure I will miss her, not only me, but a lot of players and the sponsors, and everybody would like to have her here.
 
'But she will be back. She is doing good and ready to start playing more golf more weeks in a row and get a good rhythm to show the results.'
 
Sorenstam, a five-time winner of the event, declined an offer to play in the tournament that begins Thursday at Big Horn Golf Club. After getting off to a slow start this year and missing time because of back and neck problems, she wasn't eligible for the 20-player field until the organizers changed the eligibility criteria last week.
 
They eliminated the option to exempt the U.S. Women's Amateur champion, which they hadn't exercised in nine years, and changed that spot to an exemption for an active Hall of Fame member.
 
That would have gone to Sorenstam, with the eight-time player of the year providing another headliner for the tournament.
 
But Sorenstam didn't want to take a spot that would have gone to another player, according to Mark Steinberg, her agent and head of the golf division at IMG.
 
Sarah Lee then got the final spot off the money list.
 
Ochoa applauded Sorenstam's decision.
 
'What Annika decided to do, that's something that I admire very much, I respect. She thought they were wrong to do it,' Ochoa said. 'That just shows how much class she has and how professional she is.
 
'Hopefully they will be clear with the rules, how it's going to be, the qualifications for next year and just stick with that.'
 
The field consists of the defending champion, four major champions, the leader on the Ladies European Tour money list, and one special exemption that went to Michelle Wie, with the rest coming from the money list.
 
Although Sorenstam won't be around, Ochoa will be challenged. The field includes Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who birdied the second hole of a playoff to beat Ochoa on Sunday in the Longs Drugs Challenge for her third victory of the year.
 
Ochoa, the 2006 player of the year, has won six times this year -- including the Women's British Open for her first major victory -- and earned a tour-record $3,068,421.
 
'Last year was a really special year, especially this tournament,' said the 25-year-old from Mexico by way of the University of Arizona. 'I think winning here and playing that last round with Annika and coming from behind, it was something very special and important for my career.
 
'It was a lot of fun to finish strong last year and be able to play good so far this year. The course looks in great shape and I'm very excited about starting tomorrow.'
 
Also in the field are Morgan Pressel, the Kraft Nabisco champion; Cristie Kerr, who won the U.S. Women's Open; and Ladies European Tour standout Bettina Hauert.
 
Wie made her pro debut in the 2005 Samsung, but was disqualified after the final round for signing an incorrect scorecard -- caused by an improper penalty drop -- at the end of her third round. She would have finished fourth.
 
Still only 17 and a freshman at Stanford, she has been hampered by a wrist injury and struggled this year. In seven events, she has made just two cuts and earned a total of $9,899.
 
She said earlier this week that she's healthy again.
 
'I am just so grateful for the fact that I am actually feeling really healthy right now,' Wie said. 'My wrist is feeling a lot better. I feel like I'm getting stronger. I feel healthy as a person, too, going to college, just having some fun.
 
'Just really working out and really practicing and just leaving everything behind.'
 
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    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.