Tseng Tops Hjorth Wins McDonalds LPGA

By Associated PressJune 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
McDonalds LPGAHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- In her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, playing in only her third major championship, 19-year-old Yani Tseng felt lucky to become the youngest winner of the LPGA Championship on Sunday.
 
After the day she had at Bulle Rock, that was hardly the case.
 
First, she went 18 holes with Lorena Ochoa and closed with a 4-under 68 in searing heat, denying the No. 1 player in womens golf a chance to win a third straight major. Then came a sudden-death playoff with Maria Hjorth that lasted four holes.
 
Tseng finished it off by choking down on a 6-iron out of the first cut of rough and hitting the perfect shot, the ball stopping 5 feet behind the hole for a birdie that made her the first rookie to win an LPGA major in 10 years.
 
I cant believe I just won a major, Tseng said. Everything is coming so fast.
 
It felt like slow motion for Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, both desperate for their own brand of history.
 
Ochoa, who only two days ago appeared to be sailing toward a third straight major, went 14 holes without a birdie. The drought ended on the 16th hole when a 20-yard pitch for eagle banged off the pin, and a birdie on the final hole only made it look close. She closed with a 71 and wound up one shot behind.
 
It wasnt my time, Ochoa said, showing more emotion than she had all week. I am not ashamed. Im proud of my finish. Now I move on and try to win the next few tournaments.
 
Sorenstam, trying to join Mickey Wright as the only four-time winner of the McDonalds LPGA Championship, also closed with a 71 and could count more than a dozen putts on the weekend that she could have made. She twice missed inside 5 feet on par 5s in the final round, and she had a 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th to get into the playoff.
 
It was weak and well short.
 
Its a tough time, Sorenstam said. I was determined today, really this whole week. I felt like I could do it.
 
Hjorth appeared to have fate on her side when a fairway metal headed for the hazard instead ricocheted off the rocks in a creek and bounded across the green, turning bogey into birdie. Then she chipped in on the next hole for birdie and the lead.
 
She closed with a 71, and had 18-foot and 12-foot birdie putts to win in the playoff, both narrowly missing.
 
I dont think its really hit me, but Im sure Im going to be very, very tired pretty soon, Hjorth said. But Im very happy with the day. I played solid golf all day, and just very proud of myself for hanging in there.
 
Despite her age and inexperience, Tseng felt right at home in the playoff, which is all about match play. She won 19 times as an amateur, first gaining recognition in 2004 when she rallied to beat Michelle Wie'at a time when Wie was on top of her game'at the U.S. Womens Public Links Amateur. A year later, Tseng beat Morgan Pressel in the North & South Amateur.
 
With power and poise, and a 6-iron she wont soon forget, Tseng became the second-youngest winner of an LPGA major behind Pressel, who was 18 when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year.
 
Tseng became the first rookie to win a major since Se Ri Pak, who won the LPGA Championship 10 years ago at age 20.
 
Playing the 18th hole for the third time in an hour, Tseng took her hand off the driver when it sailed to the right, taking a good hop out of the deep grass and into the first cut. Then came a 6-iron, drawing toward the flag.
 
I wasnt that nervous when I teed off, she said. I just tell myself, Make this putt and win a major.
 
That was something T.C. Chen, her countryman and part-time mentor, failed to do in the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, where he became infamous for a double-hit on a chip out of deep rough and wound up one shot behind Andy North.
 
He always teach me something because Im a rookie, Tseng said.
 
Tseng and Hjorth finished at 12-under 276.
 
Laura Diaz (70) was one birdie away from the lead throughout the back nine until a three-putt bogey on the 17th. She finished fifth.
 
The Ochoa-Sorenstam duel on a searing hot day at Bulle Rock never developed. Instead, five players had a share of the lead at some point in the final round, and the back nine was up for grabs to the very end.
 
Ochoa opened with a 10-foot birdie and didnt make another one until the par-4 16th.
 
She had eagle chances on consecutive holes, both times to get within one of the lead. But she three-putted for par from 45 feet on the 15th, and her eagle pitch from 20 yards lipped out on the 16th.
 
I never lost the hope, she said. I though something good was going to happen, that miracles exist. But it wasnt my time.
 
Still, it was her seventh consecutive top 10 in a major.
 
Equally disappointed was Sorenstam, playing the LPGA Championship for the final time and applauding the fans walking up the 18th.
 
I left a lot of shots out there, Sorenstam said. I wish I could have converted one or two; it would have been enough. But I didnt.
 
Both were part of the carnage on the 13th in which the top six on the leaderboard were a combined to play the toughest hole at Bulle Rock in 7-over par.
 
Sorenstam was the only player in the fairway, but she missed the green to the right, her chip ran over the cup and her 4-foot par putt never hit the hole. That ended a streak of 42 consecutive holes at Bulle Rock without a bogey.
 
Worse yet, she never made another birdie the rest of the way.
 

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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.