Ochoa Kerr Suddenly in the Mix

By Associated PressJune 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- First came two blasts of the horn, the end of a 12-hour day at Pine Needles. Then came a crack of thunder as skies darkened. Lorena Ochoa's work was done Saturday in the U.S. Women's Open, and she had reason to be satisfied.
 
Ochoa played the final 22 holes of her 29-hole marathon in 7 under par, leaving her one shot behind Ji-Yai Shin in the middle of the third round, another great chance to validate her status as the No. 1 player in women's golf.
 
She hated to stop playing. She can't wait to return for 25 holes on Sunday.
 
'I feel prepared to win a major,' Ochoa said. 'Tomorrow is going to be a special day.'
 
Saturday was simply a long one.
 
The second round did not end until about 3 p.m. The leaders only made it through 10 holes of the third round. But a tournament that had been a series of starts and stops because of stormy weather finally began to take shape.
 
In the lead was Shin, a 19-year-old from South Korea playing her first U.S. Women's Open, who has overcome far more than anything Pine Needles has to offer. Her mother was killed in a car accident taking her to an amateur tournament, and Shin needed time to recover from injuries and find desire to keep playing.
 
She birdied the final hole she played, the par-5 10th, to put her at 5 under for the tournament.
 
Joining Ochoa at 4 under was Cristie Kerr, a 29-year-old American who often gets overlooked in the hype of younger stars. She had time to fix her swing between the second and third rounds, and ran off five birdies in an eight-hole stretch that put her 5 under for her round, one out of the lead in her quest for a first major.
 
Angela Park, the 36-hole leader after shooting 69 in the morning, would love nothing more than to make it a South American sweep of the U.S. Open golf tournaments. She was born in Brazil, and figures her name is close is enough to Angel Cabrera that it would make sense for the 18-year-old to capture a major.
 
Morgan Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco three months ago at age 18 to become the youngest LPGA major champion in history, overcame some tentative putting to make two birdies over her final four holes and was at 3 under par.
 
'I haven't shot myself out of anything,' Pressel said.
 
It set the stage for what could be a dynamic Sunday, especially with sunshine in the forecast.
 
'We still have a lot of holes left, but I like where I am right now,' Ochoa said.
 
It was another early exit for Michelle Wie, overtime for everyone else.
 
Wie walked off the course halfway through her second round, saying her left wrist was sore when she woke up and got even worse when she tried to play. She shot 42 on the back nine and was headed for another round in the 80s when she withdrew, and her future was never more clouded.
 
'There's good days and bad days,' she said. 'And obviously, today was not a good day. I just have to re-evaluate, make some smart choices and see how it works out.'
 
Pine Needles was cloudy, too, but the tournament caught a huge break when the nasty weather stayed away from the 7:30 a.m. resumption of the second round until it was too dark to matter.
 
But there was enough light for Ochoa's wish to come true.
 
'I think that I'm close enough,' Ochoa said after rallying in the second round for a second straight 71, leaving her five shots behind Park after 36 holes. 'Hopefully, my name means something on the leaderboard, and I'm ready to play a good round.'
 
Turns out the 25-year-old Mexican star was ready.
 
Her eagle putt from just short of the first green lipped out, giving her an easy birdie. She poured in a 10-foot birdie on the par-3 third, and gave herself plenty of chances for more birdies, not missing a fairway on the front nine.
 
In the twilight of the sand hills, several Mexicans from the Pine Needles grounds crew added to her gallery, carrying her along.
 
'Vamos Lorena!' they cried.
 
She delivered with a 7-foot birdie on the ninth, and a 20-foot birdie on the 10th to pull into a share of the lead. Ochoa was in the 12th fairway when she chose not to finish the hole.
 
Shin was at 3-under 139, along with Amy Hung (69) and Julieta Granada (69) after the second round was completed.
 
Shin missed a 4-foot eagle attempt on the first hole, ran off a string of pars then took advantage of the tees being moved forward on the par-5 10th for a birdie that gave her the lead.
 
Kerr had one big par save in the middle of her birdie run, leaving her in good shape to finally get some attention.
 
For all the talk about American youth, she gets forgotten in a world of Pressel, Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome. Kerr was among the pioneers who turned pro out of high school 11 years ago, and the 29-year-old from Miami already has compiled nine victories.
 
This might be her best shot at a major.
 
'It's been a very long day of golf, and I'm looking forward to the rest tonight and just doing the best I can, and honestly I'm not going to put any pressure on myself,' Kerr said.
 
She was more thrilled to get her swing sorted out than posting a string of birdies, figuring the score will take care of itself.
 
Pressel got off to a rugged start, failing to birdie the easy first hole, three-putted for bogey on the second and missing a short birdie attempt on her next hole. But she got on track with a birdie on the sixth, and was 2 under for her round through 11 holes.
 
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam remained nine shots behind with six holes remaining in her third round. She traded birdies and bogeys, and didn't look like she was ready to make any kind of charge required to get into contention.
 
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    By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

    Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

    Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

    Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

    After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

    With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

    Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

    Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

    “I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.


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    Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

    Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

    “Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

    LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    “Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

    Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

    “Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

    Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

    Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


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    Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

    In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

    She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

    How did she evaluate her season?

    “I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

    “It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

    Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

    “Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

    “I think everybody has little ups and downs.”