Ochoa Surges into Share of Lead

By Associated PressMay 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Sybase ClassicCLIFTON, N.J. -- Sarah Lee presumably was long gone from the Upper Montclair Country Club by the time Lorena Ochoa finished her round Thursday in the Sybase Classic. That might have been a good thing.
 
Hours after Lee completed her morning round, the top-ranked Ochoa birdied five of her final eight holes for a 5-under 67 and a share of the second-round lead with Lee.
 
Ochoa and Lee (69) had 9-under 135 totals. Jane Park (68) was two strokes back, and Juli Inkster (68), Brittany Lincicome (71), Sherri Steinhauer (69) and Young Jo (67) followed at 5 under.
 
Ochoa, who won the Sybase last year when it was played at Wykagl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y., hasn't won since taking over the No. 1 ranking from Annika Sorenstam last month, though she has two top-five finishes in three tournaments.
 
On Friday, the Mexican star corrected a putting glitch on the front nine and sailed through the back nine in 5 under.
 
'I started a little bit off, but it turned out to be a good day,' Ochoa said. 'I think I was a little bit close to the ball, just a little uncomfortable there, so I had to make sure I kept a little more room on the back and swung a little bit easier.'
 
Ochoa would have grabbed the lead at the end of the day if not for a missed 5-foot birdie putt on No. 16, a 365-yard par 4. She started to pick up her play with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, which came after a front nine in which she'd alternated birdies and bogeys. She was able to carry the momentum through the rest of her round.
 
The birdie on 12 was significant because she made a double bogey the hole Thursday.
 
'As soon as I made the birdie on No. 11, I wanted to make sure we just got a good rhythm, and making birdie just gave us a better feeling for the rest of the holes,' she said.
 
Conditions were a major variable Friday, particularly for players who teed off in the morning. Weather forecasts had called for rain and cold, and though the course stayed dry throughout the day, temperatures had barely reached the low 50s when the first threesomes went out into a persistent wind. Lee and others wore headbands to keep their ears warm, and Nina Reis even wore a wool hat and gloves.
 
'It was cold out there,' Lee said. 'I took an extra 20 minutes to warm up and my body still wasn't moving very well. But usually the weakest part of my game is playing in cold weather, so I'm pretty satisfied.'
 
As most of the gallery trailed after the threesomes featuring Ochoa and other higher-profile players when they teed off just after noon, Lee was quietly finishing her round to temporarily maintain her first-round lead.
 
Like Ochoa, Lee's big breakthrough came midway through her final nine holes. On No. 5, a 470-yard par 5, she hit a 4-iron onto the green and sank a 54-foot putt for eagle. Two holes later, she birdied No. 7 with a 27-foot uphill putt.
 
The birdie put her at 10 under, and she saved par on No. 8 with a sand wedge to 4 feet. She gave one stroke back on the par-4 ninth when she hooked her drive into the left rough and wound up missing a 15-foot putt for par.
 
Park turned professional last year after playing a year at UCLA and admitted she is unaccustomed to being near the top of a leaderboard after two rounds. She said she made a point not to check the scoreboard for other players' scores.
 
After a double bogey on No. 10, Park rebounded with an eagle on 11 and made three more birdies to finish 4 under for the day and 7 under for the tournament. Now, she comes face to face with Ochoa.
 
'It's motivating, and it's humbling too,' Park said. 'It's great to be in the same field with her and competing against her and all the other players. It's an honor, really.'
 
Jo tied Ochoa for the day's best round with a 67 on the strength of three birdies on each nine and a bogey on No. 9, a 420-yard par 4 that also was bogeyed by Lee, Ochoa and Pak.
 
Steinhauer began the day at 2 under and had just bogeyed No. 12 to drop back to 1 under when she saw Lee move to 10 under.
 
'I started thinking, 'Ugh, that's a long way off,'' Steinhauer said. 'At that point I just said, 'I can't worry about what she's doing' and just kept concentrating on my own game.'
 
The veteran found her groove midway through her round and had five birdies in a span of eight holes, culminated by a sand wedge to 3 feet on par-5 seventh.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.