Pak Pettersen Tied Creamer Just One Back

By Associated PressMarch 31, 2007, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Se Ri Pak kept her mistakes to a minimum, finished with a 35-foot birdie putt and now stands one round away from becoming the seventh woman to complete the career Grand Slam.
 
Lorena Ochoa made a whopper of a mistake that might cost her a chance to win her first major and move to No. 1 in the world.
 
The 25-year-old Mexican star whiffed a flop shot on her way to a quadruple bogey on the par-3 17th hole Saturday, leaving Pak and Suzann Pettersen atop the leaderboard at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in a major no one seems to want to win.
 
If Saturday was any indication, the tournament could come down to who doesn't lose it.
 
Pak overcame some short-game gaffes over the closing holes with a birdie putt from the back of the green that dropped on its final turn, leaving her with a 2-under 70 and a chance to capture the last leg of the Grand Slam.
 
Pettersen chipped to 18 inches for tap-in birdie on the 18th for a 71 that allowed her to join Pak at 4-under 212.
 
When a wild day in the desert finally came to a close, the Kraft Nabisco was up for grabs.
 
Paula Creamer had a wedge into the par-5 18th and walked off with a three-putt bogey for a 73 that put her one shot behind along with Meaghan Francella (69). Big-hitting Brittany Lincicome eagled the final hole for a 71 and was another shot behind.
 
But the buzz came from Ochoa, for all the wrong reasons.
 
She was 3 under and one shot behind on the 17th when her 6-iron clipped a tree and her pitch to a back left pin went long into grass so deep she could barely see the ball. Trying to hit a flop shot, the club slid under the ball without moving it. Her fourth shot ran down the ridge some 45 feet away. Three putts later she had a 7 on her card and was no longer in the top 10.
 
Ochoa wound up with a 77 and was five shots behind.
 
'I was one behind, and suddenly I'm way back,' Ochoa said in clipped answers, still seething over her bad fortune. 'I'm OK. I'm happy to be here for tomorrow. I'm glad I'll be playing behind now. I have nothing to lose. Hopefully, I'll put pressure on the leaders.'
 
There was plenty of pressure in the third round, most of that coming from a baked course at Mission Hills that put a high premium on keeping the ball in the short grass.
 
Five players had at least a share of the lead at one point on a blistering hot afternoon.
 
Pak, who has never finished higher than ninth in this major, got to 5 under with an approach that hit the flag and settled 2 feet away on the 13th to take the lead. Then came a couple of bogeys, electing to use putter from short of the green on the 15th, and flubbing a chip over a hump in the fringe on the 17th that made her work for bogey.
 
But she was all smiles leaving the 18th after her big birdie, and knows exactly what is at stake Sunday.
 
'You can't really think of that out,' Pak said. 'There's just so much trouble out there. Even par is a good score.'
 
One advantage for Pak?
 
Of the top 15 players on the leaderboard, she is the only one to have captured a major.
 
'I don't really have much pressure because I've been there a lot of times,' she said.
 
It will be a first for Pettersen, the feisty Norwegian who missed eighth months a few years ago with a back injury. She managed a relatively quiet round, picking up birdies on two par 5s, limiting her mistake to only the 13th hole when it took her four shots to reach the green during some adventures in the high grass.
 
The surprise in many cases is Francella.
 
The only time the 24-year-old rookie had been to Mission Hills was for Q-school, and she wasn't even in the tournament until beating Annika Sorenstam in a playoff in Mexico earlier this month.
 
'Anything that happens after I got in would be a bonus,' she said.
 
She will play in the final group with Pak and Pettersen.
 
Sorenstam, meanwhile, turned into another face in the crowd. After her worst 36-hole start in a major since she was an amateur, the Swede teed off on the back nine, shot 71 and was 10 shots behind.
 
'When you're teeing off on the 10th hole in a major, it doesn't feel like you're in a major anymore,' Sorenstam said. 'I didn't have a single butterfly today. It's not like I'm out there focusing on the score, what it should be and what it is now.'
 
Creamer has never held a 54-hole lead or played in the final group at a major, and it was there for the taking when she had wedge into the par-5 18th. But she went long onto the fringe, blew her putt some 6 feet by the hole and took bogey.
 
Still, she has a great chance -- along with so many others.
 
'The last five groups, there's going to be a lot of us in contention,' she said.
 
Indeed, there were 13 players separated by five shots going into the final round, and Ochoa is one of them. Her hopes are buoyed by last year, when Karrie Webb came from seven shots behind on the final day to win a playoff.
 
'I'm waiting for something special tomorrow,' Ochoa said.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''