Does Lorena Have Wright Stuff

By Brian HewittApril 21, 2008, 4:00 pm
Among others now being chased by the emergent Lorena Ochoa is the great Mickey Wright.
 
Wrights dream season on the LPGA was 1963 when she won 13 times. Ochoa, who once again Sunday left the rest of the field in her rear view mirror ' this time at the Ginn Open ' has now won five times ' including her last four in a row ' in six 2008 starts.
 
Every tournament is different, Ochoa said before going outdueling a 19-year-old woman from Taiwan named Yani Tseng en route to a three-shot victory and her 19th career win.
 
But the results, more and more, are the same: Ochoa winning in romps.
 
Ochoas still alive for the womens Grand Slam, of course. Three majors remain on this seasons schedule. But because of her current form, people are now talking about her the same way they were talking about Tiger Woods about a month ago.
 
That was before Woods suffered his first loss of the year at Doral. He followed that with another dodgy putting week at the Masters Tournament earlier this month. Last Tuesday Woods underwent knee surgery and might not be back until the U.S. Open in June.
 
So the focus on professional golf is slowly shifting towards Ochoa and the womens game. And the experts are beginning to wonder if Mexicos Ochoa will lose again this year. If she wins in her next start, it will tie an LPGA record of five straight wins currently shared by Nancy Lopez (1978) and Sorenstam (2004-2005).
 
Meanwhile, back at Mickey Wright, her 13 victories in 1963 are the LPGAs single season record. Annika Sorenstam got to 11 in 2002 but couldnt better Wrights mark, once thought to be unassailable.
 
Asked Sunday how many times she thinks she can win this year, Ochoa didnt take the bait. Im not going to put a number, she said.
 
It should be noted that Wright played in 28 events in 1963 (27 top-10s). Ochoa is expected to play no more than 22 times this year. But the way she is playing'long, straight driving combined with solid wedge play and a confident putter'anything appears possible.
 
The 26-year-old Ochoa has said she wants to have a family one day and that she is not married to playing tournament golf indefinitely. Wright stopped playing at age 34 with 82 career wins, including 13 majors. At the time, she was suffering from foot problems, an adverse reaction to sunlight, and an aversion to flying.
 
But before she quit playing for pay, she won the Tiger Slam before Woods was even born. In 1961 Wright captured that seasons final two majors'the U.S. Womens Open and the LPGA Championship. Then she conquered the first two of what were then LPGA majors'the 1962 Titleholders Championship and the Western Open.
 
Sunday at the Ginn, played near Orlando at the Ginn Reunion Resort, it was close through nine holes. Then Ochoas short birdie putt on the 10th gave her a one-shot lead she never relinquished over the long-hitting Tseng. When Tseng bogeyed 13, 15 and 17 it turned the rest of the final round into little more than a victory lap for Ochoa.
 
Yes, I have another big trophy, said the unfailingly good-natured Ochoa afterward with a laugh. Im going to ask my mommy where we should put it.
 
One final note: For her victory Sunday in Florida Ochoa received a check for $390,000 in official prize money. For her entire career, Mickey Wright received checks totaling $368,770 in official prize money.
 
Yeah, said Tseng of Ochoa, shes really No. 1.
 
And then some.
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.