Ochoa Kerr open strong at US Womens Open

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa. ' Theres no denying this is the biggest week in womens golf ' full of good news and bad.
 
The games top-ranked player, a former champion and a developmental tour qualifier are one stroke behind a talented second-year LPGA player at the U.S. Womens Open, on a course that doesnt yield birdies easily.
 
All the while, controversy is swirling around the womens tour amid reports Thursday that LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens could be out of her job as early as next week after a faction of key players signed a letter calling for her resignation.
 
Cristie Kerr
2007 champion Cristie Kerr is just one off the lead.(Getty Images)
Despite the theatrics, it has the makings of a developing drama on the golf course as well, with the games top players off to hot starts and a 14-year-old amateur trying to make her first cut in her third Open.
 
Leader Na Yeon Choi birdied her first three holes, and four of her first five, making the tough Saucon Valley Country Club course look tame with an opening round 3-under 68.
 
I know its a difficult course, but I was really excited to start my round and I thought it was going to be a very, very interesting week for me, the South Korean said through an interpreter.
 
It could get quite interesting considering the players chasing the 21-year-old.
 
No. 1-ranked Lorena Ochoa, 2007 champion Cristie Kerr and qualifier Jean Reynolds opened with 2-under 69s, and Hee Young Park, also of South Korea, was another stroke back after a 70.
 
Patience is the No. 1 thing you have to have this week, Ochoa said.
 
But major news about the LPGA and its players keeps intruding on the championship.
 
Just as Choi was completing her round, Golf Digest and Golfweek Magazine, citing sources, reported on their Web sites that Bivens four-year tenure with the tour is coming to an end.
 
The move comes after a call for her resignation by key players, who wrote to the LPGA board asking Bivens to step down.
 
Easily overlooked in the fallout of the LPGA brouhaha were solid rounds by Choi, the runner-up for rookie of the year in 2008, Ochoa, who is seeking her first Womens Open title, and Kerr, aiming for her second championship crown.
 
Birdies were tough to come by for nearly everyone but Choi, who has won four times in international events.
 
Playing in her second Open, she made Saucon Valleys narrow fairways seem wide and handled its speedy, undulating greens. Choi relied on accurate approach shots throughout and reached 5-under by her 12th hole, before backing up just a bit. Starting on the back nine, she had consecutive bogeys on the 409-yard, par-4 fifth, and 559-yard, par-5 sixth before closing with three pars.
 
I think being here for the second time, being on the Tour for two years now, I think I find it much more comfortable, Choi said. I now understand better about the magnitude of this U.S. Womens Open, and to be honest, I think Im much more comfortable playing on this tour and these golf courses than I do in Korea, so, you know, everything is good for me.
 
Ochoa started early Thursday on the back nine and offset two bogeys with two birdies on her first nine and then moved below par with consecutive birdies at Nos. 2 and 3.
 
The Mexican star seeking her first Womens Open was happy to take advantage of her early tee time. Her previous best start in an opening round was a ninth in 2003.
 
Its always hard, you have to be 100 percent at 7:30 in the morning, she said. Im just glad I beat it today, and will try to do the same tomorrow.
 
On the par-4 second hole, Ochoa rolled in one of the longest putts of her career ' a 50-footer that moved right, left, up and down before falling for a 3.
 
Kerr hit 15 greens and 10 fairways in a round of three birdies and a bogey, using her knowledge and confidence of being a former Womens Open champion on the challenging Old Course. She drained birdie putts of 15, 12 and 8 feet and shrugged off her only bogey.
 
Im an Open champion, I know what to expect, Kerr said. You have to take what the course gives you at a U.S. Open. You try and be aggressive when you can and most of the time you cant be.
 
Reynolds, a two-time winner on the Futures Tour and the leading money winner on the LPGAs developmental tour, had four birdies and two bogeys. She had a chance to take sole possession of the lead, but missed a birdie putt at the 18th.
 
Shes enjoying the ride.
 
I was pretty nervous, Reynolds said. It was a good feeling, but then again, coming in under the radar and leading at the U.S. Open after the first round is pretty awesome.
 
Reynolds opened with a birdie at the first and made a strong par save at the second hole after driving into a fairway bunker. She hit a 7-wood to about 45 yards and got up-and-down.
 
She used pinpoint accuracy with her approach shots to move into contention, hitting to within a foot at the first, 3 feet at the eighth and 8 feet on the 14th. She also got up-and-down from a greenside bunker at No. 12.
 
Alexis Thompson is the low amateur after a first-round 71, her finest showing in the first round after missing the cut the last two years. The 14-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., is the reigning U.S. Girls Junior champ. In 2007, she was the youngest Womens Open qualifier in history at age 12.
 
Thompson is tied with LPGA Championship winner Anna Nordqvist, Candie King, Eun Hee Ji, Kristy McPherson and Young Kim.
 
Former champion Laura Davies, who received a special exemption that extended her streak of competing in championships to 24, opened with a 1-over 72, as did 14 others, including Paula Creamer, Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and three amateurs.
 
Defending champion Inbee Park opened with a 4-over 75, and two-time champion Juli Inkster made her 30th straight Open start and shot a 7-over 78.
 
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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
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.