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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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.