Ochoa in the Mix Early at Kraft Nabisco

By Associated PressApril 3, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Lorena Ochoa figured anything around par is good enough at a major. It took four straight birdies to get into the mix Thursday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
Starting with a sand wedge to 2 feet on the 18th hole that she called her best of the day, Ochoa zoomed up the leaderboard with a string of birdies around the turn and settled for an opening round of 4-under 68, leaving her one shot behind Karen Stupples.
 
It was important to get a couple of birdies early in the round and get some momentum, Ochoa said.
 
Ochoa is trying to become the first woman since Annika Sorenstam in 2005 to win consecutive majors, having won her first last summer at St. Andrews in the Womens British Open. And while a three-putt bogey from the fringe and over severe humps on the par-3 eighth kept her from a share of the lead, Ochoa showed why she is such an overwhelming favorite.
 
Playing with defending champion Morgan Pressel, she powered one tee shot after another down the middle of the fairway, well past trouble and usually 40 yards by Pressel. It finally paid off with the four straight birdies, three from inside 6 feet.
 
Stupples, who won the Womens British Open in 2004 and is getting back into the swing after giving birth to her first child last year, was the first to play and made it around Mission Hills without a bogey for 67.
 
Ai Miyazato of Japan birdied her last hole for a 68 to join Ochoa. Natalie Gulbis was among those at 69, while UCLA freshman Maria Jose Uribe was the low amateur and in a group at 70 that included Liselotte Neumann.
 
Annika Sorenstam tried to stay with the leaders, but she failed to take advantage of the par 5s and had to settle for a 71. It was her 15th consecutive round under par this year, but left her trailing Ochoa, the games most dynamic player.
 
Its a long way to go, Sorenstam said. You just have to go out and battle it day by day, stroke by stroke, and take it as it comes.
 
Laura Davies lost her battle on one hole.
 
Needing only this major to complete the career Grand Slam and qualify for the World Golf Hall of Fame, the big hitter from England took a 10 on the 18th hole as she was making the turn.
 
Davies hit her third shot into the water. After taking a penalty drop and hitting her fifth over the green, she chipped through the green and back into the water. Her eighth shot spun back off the green and nearly into the water, and she got up-and-down to spare herself an even higher number. Davies wound up with a 76.
 
I walk off with a 10 and the tournament is over for me, she said. Its sickening.
 
Under bright sunshine and a strong wind that was still manageable, Stupples found her confidence early by finding the fairways, and saving par the one time she strayed. She picked up easy birdies on two of the par 5s, then capped off her round with a 6-iron on the par-3 17th to within 6 feet.
 
It was a good sign that her strength is back nearly a year after her son, Logan, was born.
 
Up until about a month ago, I hadnt really regained my full strength, she said. All of a sudden, it came back almost overnight. And that was really good to see, that I was able to get through the ball.
 
No one is getting through the ball quite like Ochoa.
 
She worked hard on her putting during the offseason, but the biggest change appears to be her distance. Ochoa has tremendous speed, especially with her hips and wrists, and she powered her driver throughout the round. The trick was getting the big drives to pay off it birdies, and her burst began with a sand wedge from 70 yards.
 
It was downwind, and I managed to control it, and it rolled back and I made birdie, Ochoa said. And with the gallery, that always feels good.
 
Even more inspiring was a poster attached to the back of the grandstand on the first tee that said: Mission Hills Golf Course Staff Supports Lorena.
 
It was signed by the maintenance crew at Mission Hills, nearly all of them Mexican. Ochoa saw it from the putting green, and it wasnt the first time. She visited the Mexican crew, as she often does as tournaments in California and Arizona, on Wednesday and they presented her with the poster.
 
Pressels streak without a bogey at Mission Hills ended at 27 holes when she failed to save par from behind the 13th green, her fourth of the day. She did well to post a 71, but was equally frustrated at only hitting five greens in regulation.
 
I know how to play'fairways and greens, Pressel said. I just didnt hit the green today. But you look back at the end of the day, and its still a major championship. And Im right in there.
 
So was Sorenstam, only four out of the lead, and even Ochoa would concede that. She was asked if she stills looks to see where Sorenstam is on the leaderboard, even though Ochoa is the name most feared these days.
 
All the time, Ochoa said. She is a player to watch. She is so good and so consistent and she likes to win. That always keeps me alert and motivated and know where I stand.
 
Divots
 
University of Kentucky junior Mallory Blackwelder shot a 71. Her mother, Myra, recently became the Wildcats womens golf coach. Her father, Worth, is the caddie for Juli Inkster. Dorothy Delasin was disqualified for taking an incorrect penalty drop on the 18th hole, which could not be rectified after she teed off on the next hole. Nicole Perot was not allowed to play for missing her pro-am on Wednesday. There are two pro-ams at the LPGAs first major.
 
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    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.06 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.