Ochoa Lets Lee Slip Ahead

By Associated PressMay 19, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Sybase ClassicCLIFTON, N.J. -- Sarah Lee went shot for shot with defending champion Lorena Ochoa and got the best of the No. 1 player in women's golf.
 
She will have to do it one more time, though, to win her first LPGA Tour title.
 
Lee shot a near-flawless 7-under 65 on Saturday to open a two-shot lead over Ochoa after three rounds in the $1.4 million Sybase Classic, a tournament that has been seemingly been reduced to two-player race.
 
'I'm really excited to play with Lorena Ochoa,' said the 28-year-old Lee, whose previous best finish was a second in 2004. 'She's the No. 1 LPGA player and I really enjoyed it today.'
 
No one else is even close to the leaders.
 
Lee, who has either led or shared the lead for the first two rounds, had a 16-under 200 total, the low 54-hole score on the tour this year. Ochoa was 14 under after her second straight 67 at the Upper Montclair Country Club. It was seven more shots back to Sherri Steinhauer, Kate Golden and Young Jo.
 
'It was fun to be out there,' said Ochoa, looking for her first win since supplanting Annika Sorenstam for the top spot in the rankings last month. 'At the start she was hitting closer and making birdies, and then I hit it closer and made birdie. It was fun to be in that last group.'
 
Playing in the final threesome, Lee and Ochoa quickly distanced themselves from the field on a cold, cloudy, rainy afternoon that felt more like early April than May.
 
'I know it is going to take a low round to win the tournament because she is a great player, the 25-year-old Mexican star said of Lee.
 
Tied at 9 under, Lee birdied four of her first six holes and lost ground. Ochoa one-upped her with three birdies and an 8-foot eagle putt at the par-5 fifth hole.
 
Lee, who led for the opening 36 holes in last week's Michelob Ultra Open in Virginia, eventually took the lead for good with 4-foot birdie putt at No. 10 and a two-putt birdie from 24 feet on the par-5 11th.
 
When Ochoa, the winner last year at Wykagyl in Rochelle, N.Y., birdied the 13th from 10 feet to seemingly cut the lead to a stroke, Lee answered with a 7-footer.
 
'It was really fun,' Lee said. 'I really enjoyed it. She made a birdie. I made a birdie.'
 
Ochoa fell three shots behind after hitting a tee shot into the bunker on the par-3, 15th hole, but Lee made her only costly mistake of the round when she missed the fairway to the right on the relatively straight 16th hole. She chipped to 7-feet while hitting from an awkward stance on the edge of a bunker, but she missed the 7-foot par-saver.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Sybase Classic
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.