Ochoa Ready Annika Wie in the Mix

By Associated PressJune 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Lorena Ochoa wants to climb to base camp on Mount Everest someday. What she wont do is try for the summit.
 
I have many things I like to do, and I got to be alive! she said with a gentle laugh.
 
If Ochoa sets her mind on something, she invariably gets there. At age 13, she told her golf coach, I want to be the best. At 26, the No. 1 player in womens golf also keeps her ambitions in check, vowing to quit the LPGA circuit in five or six years.
 
Opening her defense of the Wegmans LPGA on Thursday, Ochoa will aim to take advantage of one of a dwindling number of chances to outplay Swedish star and close friend Annika Sorenstam, who is retiring at seasons end.
 
With six wins already in 2008, two short of her tally last year, I think I have the potential to really break some records and make history, Ochoa said without a hint of arrogance.
 
One obvious target is winning at least nine tournaments this year.
 
We have a couple of majors coming. I dont want to put numbers in. How about if I just win all of them? she said Wednesday.
 
Ochoa has a clear edge on Sorenstam at Locust Hill Country Club in suburban Rochester, a traditional, tree-lined course with compact greens. While Sorenstams best finish in four tries here was second place in 1996, Ochoa was runner-up in her rookie year in 2003 and won in 2005 when she birdied six of the last seven holes to sweep past Paula Creamer.
 
Last June, Ochoa made up a three-shot deficit on In-Kyung Kim with two holes to go and edged the South Korean rookie with a par on the second extra hole. It was her first playoff win in five attempts.
 
The golf course is one of my favorites, Ochoa said. I love the tree line, I like very much the tough greens. And when you have good memories, when you have good feelings, it always helps you play better.
 
Contenders in the $2 million tournament include rookie Yani Tseng of Taiwan, whose victory at the LPGA Championship two weeks ago dashed Ochoas chances of capturing a third consecutive major, and Cristie Kerr, who defends her U.S. Womens Open title next week at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn. Michelle Wie, who is ranked 200th in the world, received a sponsor exemption.
 
Right in line with her expectations, Ochoa snapped Sorenstams five-year reign at the pinnacle of womens golf with $2.59 million in earnings in 2006. She captured her first major, the British Open, and set a record for season tournament earnings with $4.36 million in 2007. With $1.9 million in earnings already this year, Mexicos most celebrated female athlete holds a half-million-dollar lead on Sorenstam, her nearest rival.
 
Sorenstam said in May she was leaving the game at the end of the year to get on with her life. And Ochoa is positive shell do the same when shes 31 or 32.
 
I want to win tournaments and achieve my goals, but there is also my life outside the golf course, she said. I do want to finish and just go home and be more of a normal person. I dont want to be here forever.
 
High on her to-do list are marriage, having children, devoting more time to her philanthropic foundation in her native Guadalajara, running the Boston Marathon and trekking up Everest.
 
She wants a flavor of what her brother, Alejandro, experienced when he climbed the worlds highest peak in May 2004'the same weekend she won her first LPGA Tour title. But she said she wouldnt place herself in grave danger and have her parents endure the torment again of fearing the worst.
 
Just to see the mountain right up really close will suffice, she said. But I will never climb it. I dont think its worth the risk.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Wegmans LPGA
  • Getty Images

    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

    Getty Images

    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

    Getty Images

    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.