Ochoa Two Back of Lee in New Jersey

By Associated PressMay 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Sybase ClassicCLIFTON, N.J. -- Had it not been for been Sarah Lee, defending champion Lorena Ochoa would be atop the leaderboard again at the Sybase Classic.
 
Lee shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead over Ochoa and four others after the first round of the $1.4 million Sybase Classic on Thursday.
 
Future Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, up-and-coming Brittany Lincicome, rookie Angela Park and Hye Jung Choi joined Ochoa at 68, a shot ahead of three others led by recent first-time winner Meaghan Francella.
 
'I've been close in the last few weeks, and this will be a nice week,' said Ochoa, who hasn't won since supplanting Annika Sorenstam as the top-ranked player last month. 'It's important to be in a good position and to give myself a chance on Sunday and hopefully it will happen.'
 
The 25-year-old Mexican star certainly played well enough to have the lead, overcoming an early double bogey with a run of birdies on both nines of the Upper Montclair Country Club, which has replaced Wykagyl Country Club as the Sybase site.
 
Heading to the par-3 eighth, Ochoa was 5 under and seemingly headed for the lead. However, she pulled her tee shot left on her 17th hole and couldn't get up and down.
 
Still, it appeared it would be good enough for a share of the lead, that is until Lee came up big in the afternoon pairings.
 
Lee, who led after the first two rounds of last week's Michelob Ultra Open and eventually finished third, had birdies ranging in length from 7 to 18 feet, capping her round with a 9-footer on the par-5 18th.
 
It was impressive performance after Lee was forced to skip practice Tuesday because she was sick and then was limited to seven holes Wednesday in the pro-am because of heavy rain.
 
However, she also was coming off a great week at Kingsmill in Virginia. Her opening-round 63 and her 36-hole total of 131 were season lows on the LPGA Tour.
 
'I got great opportunity to win but you know, I couldn't handle the last two, three holes,' said Lee, who had a final-round 74 in Virginia. 'But I learn from that how I'm going to play.'
 
The competition will be tough if the leaderboard stays the same.
 
Ochoa, the LPGA player of the year in 2006, has a win and seven top-10 finishes in nine events this year. Lincicome, who won the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship in New Jersey last summer, won the Ginn Open last month. Pak, who won her fifth career major last year with the McDonald's LPGA Championship, hasn't finished worse than 13th in her last four events.
 
Francella of nearby Port Chester, N.Y., also has game. She beat Sorenstam in a playoff earlier this year.
 
Ochoa is the one to fear though. She had seven birdies, a double bogey and a bogey on an old-fashioned course that reminded her of the one she plays at home.
 
Starting on No. 10, she birdied the 11th from 5 feet. She ran into trouble on 408-yard 12th, hitting her second into wood chips on a green protected by water. She chipped over the green and then chipped into the rough on the other side en route to a double bogey.
 
Birdies of 4, 2 and 15 feet got her righted, and she added three more birdies on her second nine, including a tap-in on a par 5.
 
'The last two weeks in Tulsa and Kingsmill, that was my struggle that every time I make a birdie, then a made a bogey,' Ochoa said. 'I felt like I couldn't get a good momentum going. That was the difference today.'
 
Lincicome had a wild round that included four birdies, two eagles, two bogeys and a double bogey. She didn't know she was tied for the lead after the morning until she was asked to report to the media room.
 
Pak, who has to complete four events to qualify for the Hall of Fame, was at even par after 13 holes. She birdied four hole of her final holes, with putts from a tap-in to 10 feet.
 
'I'm happy the way I finished but it's still three more days to go,' Pak said.
 
Park, an 18-year-old South Korean who was born in Brazil, had four birdies and no bogeys. She leads the tour rookie standing with three top-20 finishes, including a tie for third.
 
Choi had five birdies and a bogey. The second-year LPGA player has four top-25 finishes and four other events she would like to forget about.
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.