Ochoa Sorenstam Set for Desert Showdown

By Associated PressMarch 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Safeway International pres by CocaColaSUPERSTITION, Ariz. -- A year ago, Lorena Ochoa broke Annika Sorenstam's five-year stranglehold on the LPGA Tour's player of the year award.
Now Ochoa is looking to start a streak of her own.
'My goal is to maintain that position to be No. 1,' the 25-year-old Mexican said. 'I can only tell you it's going to be a big challenge.'
Ochoa and Sorenstam are among the players to watch in the Safeway International, which begins Thursday at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club on the eastern outskirts of Phoenix. Nestled in the foothills, the course is about 100 miles north of the University of Arizona, where both women had standout careers.
They've collided here before, with dramatic results. In 2005, Ochoa blew a four-stroke lead with three holes to play and lost a playoff to Sorenstam.
Both have played well on Superstition Mountain's Prospector Course, the site of the tournament the last three years. Ochoa tied for third in 2004, finished second in 2005 and tied for 24th a year ago. Sorenstam won in 2004 and 2005 and tied for 19th last year.
But while their competition appears to be an obvious storyline, Ochoa downplayed the potential rivalry with Sorenstam.
'It's not about Annika, about one player,' Ochoa said.
Still, the 36-year-old Sorenstam remains No. 1 in the world rankings and is the prime target on an increasingly competitive tour.
'Last time I looked, she was still ranked No. 1 in the world,' said Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, the tournament's defending champion. 'So I think she's always the person to beat.
'If I was a betting person, and Annika was in the field, I'd probably take her every week and probably make out pretty good at the end of the year.'
Last year, Ochoa was often the best bet. She won six tournaments and earned $2,592,872, becoming only the second player, after Sorenstam, to surpass $2 million in a single season. Karrie Webb became the third later in the year.
Ochoa's scoring average, 69.24, was the fourth-lowest in LPGA Tour history.
'I will remember that year for the rest of my life,' Ochoa said. 'And I've been dreaming for so long to be No. 1.'
For her part, Sorenstam would just as soon forget the whole year. Although she won her third U.S. Open title and finished third on the money list at $1,971,741. Sorenstam's three victories were her fewest in a season since 1999, when she won twice.
'I was quite frustrated with the way I was playing last year,' Sorenstam said after her practice round Wednesday. 'I tried so hard and I really tried to make it work. I scrambled in a lot of events just to hit fairways and hit greens. It was tough.'
Sorenstam said she spent the winter trying to 'find my swing again.' If her last tournament was any indication, she may have found it. Sorenstam lost a playoff to Meaghan Francella in the MasterCard Classic in Mexico, and she came away happy about everything but the outcome in her season debut.
'I feel like my game is as good as I can ask it to be,' Sorenstam said. 'I felt like my swing is back. The distance is back. The accuracy is also back.'
Both Ochoa and Sorenstam hope a good performance here will give them a boost heading into next week's Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the season.
With 10 major victories, Sorenstam is tied with Babe Zaharias for fourth on the career list. Patty Berg holds the record with 15.
'I'm aware of the record, but I never felt like I would compare myself to the other players,' Sorenstam said. 'I've always tried to play the best I can. It would be nice to do it. I think it's possible. That's not really what drives me.'
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  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

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    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.