Spectacular Views Greet Sorenstam and Co

By Associated PressSeptember 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Office Depot ChampionshipRANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- With gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean from every hole and a passel of youngsters chasing her, Annika Sorenstam might find herself slightly distracted in the Office Depot Championship.
If she gets tired of gazing at the ocean, there are no less than four waterfalls, including two rising to 25 feet, on the new Trump National course in a reflection of audacious owner Donald Trump.
``This is quite a place,'' Sorenstam said Thursday after playing her first practice round on the 6,017-yard, par-71 course that has yet to open to the public. ``The views are absolutely spectacular. You got to try and stay focused on your game and not look too much at the views.''
Sorenstam tees off Friday in pursuit of her eighth tour victory of the season. She won the 54-hole Office Depot tourney the last two years when it was played at El Caballero Country Club in the Los Angeles suburb of Tarzana, and also won the 2001 event at Wilshire Country Club.
Her seven wins this season lead the LPGA Tour, and include two of the year's four majors. She also leads the money list and is atop the standings for player of the year and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
``All those three things mean a lot to me, those are something I'd like to achieve,'' she said.
Sorenstam plans to play six tournaments the rest of the year, including stops in South Korea and Japan, giving her a chance to improve on the 11 victories she had in 2002.
``I want to end this season the way I started,'' said Sorenstam, who won three of the year's first four tournaments. ``I played really well early on and I'd like to finish that way.''
So would Paula Creamer, who already has clinched LPGA rookie of the year honors with three months left in the season. She is second to Sorenstam on the money list.
The 19-year-old Creamer is coming off a runner-up finish to Sorenstam at the Oklahoma stop, and a breakthrough performance in the Solheim Cup, where she helped the United States defeat Europe.
``That was the highlight of my golf career,'' she said. ``That proved to me that I can play out there and I can play with the best players in the world.''
Creamer has two LPGA Tour victories this year, the second in July in the Evian Masters in France. This week's course reminds her of that location.
``Just the setting, the golf course and the hills. It sets up really well for my game,'' she said. ``It is really a test of golf and that's what I want. I like to have a challenge.''
Besides tackling a new course, Sorenstam and Creamer will face a formidable field beginning Friday. U.S. Open champion Birdie Kim and British Open winner Jeong Jang are playing, along with every woman who has won a title this year.
``I don't look at them and say, `Hey, I got to practice, I got to do this and that,''' Sorenstam said. ``I know what I want to achieve in my career, I'm pretty much a self-motivator.''
That's one of the only traits the low-key Sorenstam has in common with the blustery Trump, who is expected to attend Sunday.
The Trump National course was infamous even before the real estate mogul bought it. In 1999, a landslide destroyed portions of the 18th hole when the course was known as Ocean Trails. It took more than a million cubic yards of dirt and four years to rebuild.
Trump bought the course that sits above the ocean in ritzy Rancho Palos Verdes and the digging began. The man who fires and hires people on NBC's ``The Apprentice'' wanted something spectacular, and he got it.
A two-tiered waterfall is an eye-catching sight near the first green, and another one decorates the 17th green. One of the waterfalls features a tunnel that takes players to the next tee. The fairways are narrow and the ocean breeze can cause problems when it kicks up.
``I was talking to some of the players this morning and they were saying, `You hit a bad shot, you look over to the ocean. You hit a good shot, you still look over there,''' Creamer said. ``You have to stay focused, but it is beautiful.''
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''

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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.

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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”

    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.