Seventh Heaven Ochoa Nabs Another Title

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
  PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Lorena Ochoa enjoys life at the top, and she intends to stay there for a while.
 
Ochoa clinched her second straight LPGA Tour player of the year award with a runaway victory Sunday in the Samsung World Championship.
 
Successfully defending her title in the elite event, Ochoa crafted a closing 6-under 66 in what began as a pressure-packed final round. The title was her seventh of the year and 16th overall.
 
She finished at 18-under 270 -- four shots ahead of Mi Hyun Kim -- and earned $250,000 to push her record total to $3,318,421.
 
'After what happened in 2006, I thought it would be hard to improve, but here I am,' said the smiling Ochoa, who won six times last year.
 
Asked how she plans to remain No. 1, she said, 'I always try to be one step ahead; not let any distractions get in the way, get in my practice and my rest.
 
'And there are a lot of things to improve. I'm going to work hard.'
 
Kim closed with a 69. Angela Park, this year's rookie of the year, and Jeong Jang shot 70s to tie for third at 13 under.
 
Kim said that Ochoa, unlike many other players who hit the ball long, also has a fine short game.
 
'She is still young, but mentally good, and if she hits long, she hits a good putt. She has a lot of good things. I'm jealous,' Kim said, grinning.
 
She added that, because Ochoa is so long off the tee, 'I want to ask her, I want to get 10 yards distance from her.'
 
Asked later if she were willing to give Kim a 10-yard advantage, Ochoa laughed and said, 'No.'
 
The Mexican star who turns 26 next month began the day tied at the top with Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who beat her in a playoff a week earlier.
 
Kim, Jang and Park all began the final round at Big Horn Golf Club just one shot behind the co-leaders.
 
Ochoa's game was solid from tee to cup, and she was particularly deadly with her irons. She also snaked in a 15-foot birdie putt to take clear command on No. 15, and sank a couple of 10-footers for birdies during her round.
 
She made a 5-footer to birdie the first hole and take the lead alone and was in front until Jang birdied No. 9 to draw even at 15 under.
 
With several Ochoa fans perched high on rocks high above the course and waving a large Mexican flag, she moved back ahead by one shot with a birdie on No. 10, then extended her lead with birdies on Nos. 14 and 15.
 
She had her lone bogey of the day on 16, but bounced back to make another 10-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to stretch her lead back to four shots.
 
When she knocked in a 6-footer for par on the final green, Ochoa grinned, pumped her right arm, then waved to the crowd.
 
Pettersen, who defeated Ochoa on the second hole of a playoff last week in Danville, finished with a 72 this time that left her in fifth at 12 under.
 
Michelle Wie, who received a special exemption to join the field, finished with by far her best round of the tournament, a 71 for an 18-over total. She was 19 over after the first three rounds, but her finish jumped her over Bettina Hauert into 19th place in the 20-player event. Hauert shot a 76 to go to 19 over.
 
A Stanford freshman who turned 18 on Thursday, Wie earned $13,125 for her 19th-place finish, $626 more than Hauert.
 
Wie, who made only two cuts in seven tournaments this year and had earned only $9,899, was pleased to finally get her game going.
 
'I didn't play for a while (because of wrist injuries) and it took me a lot longer than I thought to get back into the game,' she said. 'Definitely this was a lot better. I was really proud of myself for not giving up the whole week, that I just fought through.
 
'And today I just fought through the round. Obviously, I had a couple of missed shots, but I made a lot of putts and today helped me to think very positively.'
 
Wie said she is looking forward to a fresh start after battling the wrist injuries this year.
 
'In my mind, I didn't play bad because because I played bad; I played bad because I shouldn't have played,' she said. 'The decision was on my part. But it wasn't really my fault either, because I really wanted to play.'
 
She finished 17th at Big Horn last year. She would have finished fourth in 2005, when she made the tournament her pro debut, but was disqualified after the final round for signing an incorrect score card following the third round.
 
Annika Sorenstam, a five-time winner of the event, declined an offer to play in the tournament this year. After getting off to a slow start this season and missing time because of back and neck problems, she wasn't eligible for the 20-player field until the organizers changed the criteria to open a spot for her.
 
Sorenstam's agent said she did not want to take a spot that would have gone to another player under the old criteria. Sarah Lee got the final spot, and she tied for 10th and earned $21,667.
 
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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.


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    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.''