Ochoa starts slowly while Sorenstam shares lead

By Associated PressNovember 13, 2008, 5:00 pm
Lorena Ochoa InvitationalGUADALAJARA, Mexico ' Lorena Ochoa struggled Thursday in the first round in her own Lorena Ochoa Invitational, shooting a 1-over 73 on her home course to drop five strokes behind Annika Sorenstam and the other leaders.
I cant say Im happy because Im not, but Im feel like I can get closer. I hope to do it tomorrow, said Ochoa, who took up the game 21 years ago at Guadalajara Country Club. Its a good pressure to play here, to feel the good vibes, and the love of my fans. I feel motivated because I know that we have three more days to play.
LPGA Championship winner Yani Tseng, No. 2 in the world behind Ochoa and ahead of Sorenstam, topped the leaderboard at 68 along with Sorenstam, Angela Stanford, Karen Stupples, Seon Hwa Lee, Nicole Castrale, Hee-Won Han and Brittany Lang.
Ochoa has two victories ' the 2006 and 2008 Corona Championship ' in nine LPGA starts in Mexico. She has seven victories in 20 tour starts this year and leads the money list with $2,738,888.
I was off rhythm, especially on my second shot, and that took away the chances of birdies, Ochoa said. I will take another round of practice later on so tomorrow can be a better day.
Ochoa bogeyed Nos. 4 and 6 to make the turn at 2-over 38. She birdied the par-5 10th, bogeyed the 15th and closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
It was hard to concentrate with the comments from the crowd and me trying to play good, Ochoa said. But I think I was able to control the pressure fine and, hopefully, do better the next few days.
Sorenstam, leaving the tour at the end of the season, birdied five of the first 13 holes to take the lead at 5 under, but missed shot par putts on 14 and 16 before rallying with a birdie on 18.
There is really not much to talk about, Sorenstam said. I missed two short putts. I tried to move on and not to think to much about it.
The Swedish star is coming off a playoff victory two weeks ago in a Ladies European Tour event in China. She has three LPGA victories this season.
Today was a good day, Sorenstam said. Now I will need another three to go with it and see what happens. Once I step inside the ropes, I enjoy the competition. Its just so hard to prepare the way I used to. The fire is just not there. Thats what Im fighting every day, but the competitive side has not disappeared.
Stupples, the 35-year-old English player looking for her first victory the 2004 Womens British Open, birdied the first three holes and holed a 60-degree wedge from 70 yards for eagle on the 364-yard 14th.
She played with a broken middle toe on her right foot.
I had the accident yesterday morning, Stupples said. I was in a panic to get to the coffee, so I rushed around the corner and I stubbed my toe against the wall, and I have a fracture, a broken toe. But its the middle one, and so its supported by the other two toes. It hurts a little bit, but nothing that I cant play with.
The 23-year-old Lang birdied four of her last five holes.
I struggled a little bit with the speed of the greens at the beginning, Lang said. I was hitting the ball too hard, but once I got adjusted, it was OK, because they are fairly good greens.
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    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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.