Ochoa Turns it Around Bastel Leads - COPIED

By Associated PressJune 26, 2008, 4:00 pm
McDonalds LPGAHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- Lorena Ochoa had sufficiently recovered from a double bogey and was slowly making her way up the leaderboard Thursday in the McDonalds LPGA Championship when she stopped to ask a question on her way to the next tee.
 
What did Annika shoot today? she asked.
 
Told that Sorenstam had a 2-under 70 in the morning, Ochoa nodded her head.
 
Then she made sure she was one better.
 
Ochoa didnt finish in the lead, but she was close enough to be satisfied with her start. Four birdies on her flawless back nine at Bulle Rock gave her a 3-under 69, leaving Ochoa three shots behind Lorie Kane of Canada and Emily Bastel as she tries to become only the fourth woman to win three straight majors.
 
Today was important just not to get away too far from the leaders, and thats why Im so happy that I did, Ochoa said. Three under for the first day of a major is good, even though I had the double bogey. And hopefully, tomorrow Ill have a great round.
 
Neither of the leaders have had a top 10 all year, and Kane has struggled to make cuts. But they found their way across a long and soggy golf course, with took on so much rain overnight that fairways felt like carpet in a home that had been flooded.
 
Am I surprised by a low round? I knew it was in me, and I know I have a lot more of those, Kane said. I know its a long way to Sunday, but I am encouraged by whats been happening the last few weeks.
 
Bastel finished her bogey-free 66 with a hybrid into 12 feet for birdie on the 18th hole, one of two holes where the tees were moved up some 30 yards to accommodate the wet conditions.
 
She won the Futures Tour money title a year ago, and is slowly making progress.
 
Its exciting to have this happen, said Bastel, playing in only her sixth major. Early in the week, just try to enjoy it and keep it going.
 
Lindsey Wright had a 67 and was one shot behind, followed by a group at 68 that included Nicole Castrale.
 
Ochoa seems to always know the score, and she didnt stop with her question about Sorenstam.
 
She gazed at an electronic board behind the seventh green, her 16th of the day, to size up the competition and make sure they were not getting too far away. A year ago, Ochoa plodded along around par until she was too far back to make a move.
 
Perhaps she inquired about Sorenstam because she never saw the Swedes name on the board. Sorenstam certainly had her chances, but couldnt convert several birdie putts inside 12 feet.
 
Hit the ball beautifully today, said Sorenstam, a three-time LPGA champion in her final year on tour. Just didnt make some putts today, unfortunately. But Im very, very happy with my game.
 
Ochoa went wire-to-wire to win at St. Andrews to win her first major at the Womens British Open, and she was atop the leaderboard the final three rounds of the Kraft Nabisco for her second in a row.
 
But she was on the ropes early at Bulle Rock.
 
Ochoa hooked her tee shot into waist-high native grasses on the 13th, so deep in the rough that even taking two club lengths for an unplayable lie did not give her a shot. After conferring with a rules official, she walked some 50 yards back in a line with the green, dropping in the rough near the 11th fairway. She wound up with a double bogey, 2 over after four holes.
 
It happened early in the round, and I knew I had a lot of holes left, Ochoa said. I was feeling good. I didnt get too stressed. I just thought, Make a couple of birdies on the front and finish even, and then 3 under on the back. So I did that.
 
She got back to even par with a 40-foot birdie on the 18th, then birdied the third and fourth holes from 12 feet.
 
By then, Ochoa was in a rhythm of fairways and greens, picking up her last birdie on the par-5 eighth with a 5-wood into 20 feet and an eagle putt that hung on the lip.
 
Bastel handled the length of the course just fine, picking up two birdies with metal clubs'the hybrid on the 18th and a 7-wood to 12 feet on the 13th hole'and the only downer was coping with a nasty cold.
 
Kane, a popular Canadian with a big smile, has gone seven years since her last victory and was starting to wonder what was wrong. A month ago at the Michelob Ultra Open, she wasnt aware that sports psychologist Bob Rotella was watching her along the back nine. He told her she was doing fine, and when the putts started falling, they would fall in bunches.
 
She made four from the 10-foot range, chipped in for birdie on the 13th and picking up much-needed confidence along the way.
 
This is a major week for Kane for two reasons'after the LPGA Championship, she will try to qualify for the U.S. Womens Open. Kanes caddie asked her if she wanted to take a free pass from the pro-am and practice on the qualifying courses.
 
She declined.
 
Im here to win the McDonalds, and Im preparing for that, she said. Im going to worry about Monday when Monday comes.
 
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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

    Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    ''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

    ''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

    ''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

    Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

    ''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

    The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

    ''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

    Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

    ''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

    The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

    ''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

    He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

    Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

    ''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

    Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

    ''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.