Ochoa Holds Off Gulbis To Win Million

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- On the verge of an unlikely collapse, Lorena Ochoa came through with a $1 million shot.
 
Wrapping up a sensational season, Ochoa overcame a double bogey on the 17th hole with a daring shot out of the rough and over the water to 3 feet for birdie Sunday to win the ADT Championship and claim the $1 million prize, the richest in women's golf.
 
She didn't expect so many nerves so late in a final round at Trump International that had been devoid of drama.
 
Ochoa was four shots clear with two holes to play until a three-putt double bogey on the par-3 17th, where earlier this week she had made a quadruple bogey. Natalie Gulbis made birdie to cut the lead to one shot, and Gulbis followed with a hybrid into 15 feet on the 18th.
 
The 26-year-old Mexican star never flinched.
 
Her shot hit the front part of the green and didn't stop rolling until it was 30 inches away. Gulbis missed her putt, and Ochoa calmly rapped in her birdie for a 4-under 68 and a two-shot victory.
 
'The best shot of my career,' Ochoa said. 'Five years, that was the best one. All of you saw that.'
 
And that she laughed, looking up at a gallery that indeed saw a spectacular finish by the game's best player.
 
Despite the close call she could have done without, and a quirky format that reset the scores after the second and third rounds, there was no disputing the new queen on the LPGA Tour. That would be 'la reina' in Spanish, pronounced very similar to Lorena.
 
It was her eighth victory of the year, joining Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez as the only players to have done that in the last 20 years. And the big payoff pushed her earnings to over $4 million.
 
Gulbis, who again showed she is much more than just a glamour girl, gave all she had by giving herself birdie chances on the last six holes, but she only converted two of them. She wound up with a 70, earning $100,000.
 
None of the other eight players who advanced to the final round broke par.
 
Paula Creamer was the only other player under par much of the balmy day until hitting her tee shot into the water on the 18th and escaping with a bogey to finish with a 70. She got $20,000.
 
Everyone else cleared the stage much earlier, certainly after taking on the diabolical seventh hole, par 3 to a peninsula green. The first five players found the water, with Karrie Webb going in twice for a quadruple bogey. Webb shot 84.
 
Christina Kim kept talking about a dream she had this week, unwilling to share it until Sunday. Chances are, the dream wasn't to shoot 81 in the final round, but that's what she had.
 
It was a nerve-racking Sunday, with what looked like $1 million cash stuffed into a glass case on the first tee and a Trump International course that played as difficult as it had all week.
 
Ochoa made it look easy, and for most of the final round, it looked like a runaway.
 
She ran off birdies on the second and third hole, hit a risky flop shot toward the lake on No. 4 and made the 12-foot par putt, followed with two more birdies and another fearless approach on the par-5 ninth set up her fifth birdie to make the turn in 31. The average score on the front nine for everyone else was 38.7.
 
Ochoa had a five-shot lead and showed no signs of letting up.
 
The first hint of any drama came on the 16th, when Ochoa hit into a bunker and faced 131 yards over the water to a difficult green. Gulbis already was 15 feet from the flag, and Ochoa hit 7-iron to about a foot inside her.
 
'It's never easy,' her caddie said after raking the bunker.
 
One hole later, Ochoa proved him correct. Her tee shot went over the back of the green, the rough keeping it from going into the stream. Her 20-footer for par ran 6 feet by the hole, and Ochoa missed that for double bogey.
 
It ended her streak of 48 consecutive holes at par or better, but of more concern was a one-shot lead.
 
With Gulbis in birdie range, the scene was set for a stunning comeback -- or collapse -- with Ochoa facing a lie in the rough that could have gone anywhere. But it was right where she aimed, a career shot that paid off in a million ways.
 
Ochoa finished the year with $4,364,994, having already shattered the LPGA earnings record set by Sorenstam five years ago ($2,863,904).
 
Ochoa said she would donate most of the money to her foundation and building schools in Mexico.
 
But first?
 
'A big celebration,' she said.
 
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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.