Ochoa Leads Sorenstam Three Back

By Associated PressMarch 18, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Safeway International presented by CokeSUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Lorena Ochoa believes someone needs to step up and challenge Annika Sorenstam.
Rather than waiting for Michelle Wie's eagerly anticipated full-time move to the LPGA Tour, the 23-year-old Mexican star took matters into her own hands Friday.
Ochoa, the LPGA's rookie of the year two seasons ago, shot a 5-under 67 to open a two-shot lead in the Safeway International, with Sorenstam three strokes behind and the resurgent Wie also in contention.
``It's my dream to play with her, beside her, and beat her,'' Ochoa said about competing with Sorenstam, the circuit's player of the year from 2001-04. ``So we'll see. We'll wait for that moment.''
Ochoa won twice last year, but couldn't recall leading a professional tournament after two rounds.
``At least, (it's) the first time that Annika is in the field when I'm leading, so I'm just excited I have a chance,'' she said.
Ochoa was on pace for an even bigger lead until she bogeyed the 14th hole. She birdied the 18th to finish at 12-under 132 halfway through the tour's first 72-hole event of the year.
Soo-Yun Kang was second after a 66, and Sorenstam, the defending champion, was 9 under after a 69.
Sorenstam, who had the second- and third-round leads on the way to her victory last year, watched the leaderboards all day to keep track of Ochoa.
``I saw her at 9 (under), and then all of a sudden I saw her at 12,'' the Swedish champion said. ``I don't know what happened in between, but she's obviously playing some good golf.''
Siew-Ai Lim, who shared the first-round lead with Ochoa, was 7 under after a 72, with Grace Park (67) and Karen Stupples (71) 6 under.
Candie Kung (70) and Juli Inkster (73) were next at 5-under 139, and Wie followed her opening 73 with a 67 to join Laura Davies (69), Paula Creamer (71), Liselotte Neumann (70) and Laura Diaz (67) at 4 under.
The 15-year-old Wie rallied in the second round to run her string of consecutive cuts made to 11. The long-hitting teen, who last missed a cut in August 2003, appeared to be in jeopardy of another early exit when she bogeyed the first hole.
But she recovered with an eagle and five birdies to get back in the hunt for her first LPGA title. Wie had her best finish against professional competition three weeks ago with a tie for second in her native Hawaii.
``I was shooting to shot, like, a lot under par, because I think the conditions are going to be tough the next few days, hearing the weather forecast,'' Wie said.
Sorenstam, the circuit's player of the year from 2001-04, has a three-tournament winning streak, including her season debut in Mexico City, and has won five of the last seven she's entered.
But she might have her work cut out against Ochoa, another former University of Arizona player capable of scoring bursts that rival Sorenstam's.
Ochoa finished third on the money list last year with $1.45 million, and set tour season records for birdies (442), rounds under par (75) and rounds in the 60s (51).
After a tie for 14th in Hawaii, Ochoa was fifth in Mexico City, and came in determined to play well in Arizona, where she also feels at home.
She looked the part on the Prospector Course on the flank of the scenic Superstition Mountains, birdieing the second hole and making birdie putts of between 15 and 17 feet on Nos. 7, 8 and 10.
Ochoa went to 12 under on the 11th hole, making her fourth birdie in five holes after dropping an 8-iron shot within 8 feet of the cup.
At that point, Ochoa was two shots up on Kang, the clubhouse leader, and five ahead of Sorenstam.
But the chase tightened when Ochoa knocked a wedge over the green at the 310-yard 14th hole and failed to get up and down.
Sorenstam birdied two of the last three holes. Ochoa also got back a stroke at No. 18, reaching the green in two with a 5-wood that set up a two-putt birdie from 20 feet.
Kang's short game was exceptional -- the longest of her seven birdie putts was a 6-footer on No. 13.
Kang, who won the World Amateur Championship in 1996 and then turned professional, apprenticed on the Futures and Korea LPGA tours until she qualified for the LPGA Tour in 2001.
She played in the final group with Sorenstam at a Korean event years ago and won.
``So it doesn't affect me and doesn't put any pressure on me,'' Kang said.
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  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.