Lorena And Everybody Else

By Brian HewittApril 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca. -- The LPGA, once again, has reached parity with the PGA TOUR in the state of its pre-major prognostication processes.
That is to say on the eve of the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship the question is not WHO the favorite to win the first big womens event of the year. The question is FROM WHOM will come the sternest challenge to Lorena Ochoa, the overwhelming favorite to capture her second major and her third victory in four tries so far this season.
Used to be Annika Sorenstam was the player to beat on the LPGA. But she got injured last year and Ochoa got hot, winning eight times. So in the heavy favorite category Mexicos Ochoa is the now the Tiger Woods of womens golf.
But it is impossible to ignore the fact that she hasnt won this event. Yet.
Last year she was tied for the lead after 36 holes and saw her hopes dashed on the 17th hole of the third round when she made a quadruple bogey 7--that included a whiff in thick greenside rough--that effectively dashed her hopes.
No, Ochoa said this week, I dont even think on that. I already erased them. I only feel good things about this course. And good vibes. And good memories.
One of those good vibes was an opening 62 to set the course record in the first round here in 2006. Alas for Ochoa, she lost in a playoff to Karrie Webb.
Sorenstam showed up at Mission Hills Country Club last year and announced she felt good about her swing. Then she went out and fired a 75-76 and barely made the cut. Only later did we find out she was nursing back and neck injuries.
Sorenstam, now ranked No. 2 in the world behind Ochoa, is, according to her people, almost all the way back to full physical strength. She won the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay and in four 2008 events she has not finished out of the top 10
Perhaps the least-known, of the best challengers is Korean Jee Young Lee who finished second to Ochoa last week in Arizona at the Safeway International. The long-hitting Lee started slowly this season with no top 20s in her first four tournaments.
But it is impossible to ignore her record in the four majors last year'T-13 at Kraft Nabisco; T-10 at the LPGA Championship; seventh at the U.S. Womens Open and T-2 at the Womens British Open. Lee wound up second in driving distance on the LPGA last year, Ochoa third.
Suzann Pettersen (McDonalds LPGA) and Cristie Kerr (U.S. Womens Open) both won majors last year. Pettersen was also one of several players who melted down Sunday here last year. Both are on the short list of players with realistic hopes of challenging Ochoa.
World No. 4 Paula Creamer probably now holds the dubious distinction of being the best player never to have won a major. Creamer won the Fields Open in Hawaii last month and arrived in California fresh from practice sessions at her home course'Isleworth near Orlando'the same track Tiger Woods is currently using to spruce up his game for next weeks Masters.
Creamer was perfectly poised Sunday at last years Kraft Nabisco until she skied to a final round 78 and a T-15. My patience, and I think it was more my maturity, got in the way on Sunday last year trying to force things when, in reality, I didnt need to, she said.
Creamer, it should be pointed out, is still just 21 years old. But the games of many of the best players seem to grow up faster than they used to on the LPGA. When Morgan Pressel won here last year she was, at 18, the youngest female major winner ever.
Last week at Safeway Pressel got under the weather and missed the cut. Meanwhile she sounds more like a veteran every day. Its scary to think there are girls out here who are looking up to me, she said Tuesday.
But the fact is, everybody in womens golf is looking up to Ochoa these days. And Ochoa, in her spare time, looks up to Woods, who she met briefly at last years Masters.
He said, like, good playing, hi, congratulations, Ochoa said. And he just gave me a big smile, said good luck in the tournament and goodbye. So, no, I havent had a chance to talk to him.
But clearly she endeavors to emulate him. Thats what Im trying to do, Ochoa said. .Im there to win.
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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.