First Names Say it All

By Brian HewittMarch 3, 2008, 5:00 pm
Lorena and Ernie. We had gotten so used to Annika and Tiger. And to be sure, the time of Sorenstam and Woods has not yet passed. But the point is, in golf now, when we say Lorena and Ernie there is no need to mention their last names which, by the way, are Ochoa and Els.
 
Lorena won in Singapore Sunday, lapping a strong LPGA field. Ernie outlasted everybody in Florida, shooting the low round of the day in trying conditions to beat 54-hole co-leader Luke Donald by a shot.
 
For Els it was his first victory on American soil in almost four years. You have to go back to the 2004 Memorial for the Big Easys last win in the States.
 
We play out here to win, he said after the round. I guess we get addicted to that feeling and when you dont get your rush, so to speak, you miss it.
 
You can make the argument that nobody in mens golf needed that rush more than Ernie. He has talked openly about the demons inside his head. He worked with golf shrink Bob Rotella extensively during the week at the Honda Classic. And now his head is clear as the games focus turns toward Augusta and the Masters Tournament five weeks away.
 
As compelling as the golf was at Palm Beach Gardens, it was impossible to ignore what happened on the womens side in Singapore.
 
World No. 1 Lorenas 11-shot victory at the HSBC Womens Champions was an eye-opener. The LPGA margin of victory record for 72 holes is 14 shots and was set by Cindy Mackey back in 1986.
 
Even more of an eye opener was who Lorena beat in Singapore. Second place belonged to World No. 2 Annika Sorenstam. Third place money went to Paula Creamer. This was the LPGAs third event of the year. Sorenstam won the first, Creamer the second.
 
With apologies to Suzann Pettersen and Karrie Webb, can you say Big Three in womens golf?
 
Singapores was Ochoas 2008 debut. Can you say style? Can you say statement?
 
We have no idea what course she was playing out here, said Creamer afterward.
 
Annika was impressed, too. But not quite ready to concede Ochoas superiority. Shes playing well, Sorenstam said. But its nothing I dont think thats not achievable by any means. I think Im playing as good from tee to green. So Im very proud of the way I hit it.
 
To put Ochoas 20 under in perspective, only 13 players in the field were below par for the week. I took my game to a new level, she said. So Im going to keep trying to repeat myself.
 
People are beginning to wonder who will lose first in 2008, Tiger or Lorena? They used to ask these questions about Tiger and Annika. Its an honor to be compared, Ochoa said. Im going to try to go after him.
 
The LPGA has just two events on its schedule before the years first major, the Kraft Nabisco, which is a month away. Before that they will go to Mexico City where Ochoa will be a heavy favorite in her native land. And then they will play the Safeway in Arizona where Sorenstam famously beat Ochoa in a playoff in 2005. Ochoa is the defending champion there.
 
Looks for Ernie at the PODS Championship this week followed by Arnolds tournament at Bay Hill and the WGC-CA at Doral.
 
Soon enough there will be majors: Kraft Nabisco for the women and, the week after that, the Masters.
 
Dont take your eyes off Lorena and Ernie.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Honda Classic
  • Full Coverage - HSBC Women's Champions
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.