Notes Webb Browsing Ochoa Learning

By Brian HewittMarch 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Not a bad year. Karrie Webb won five times in 2006 and is the defending champion here this week at the Kraft Nabisco. Yet most of the attention last year in womens golf focused on the ascendancy of Lorena Ochoa (Player of the Year).
 
I changed my swing, probably two and a half years ago, Webb said. And I think its still a work in progress for me. The only difference is I have a little bit more of an understanding of the swing that I have now.
 
And she has more confidence. Which, by the way, is what she sees in Ochoa, who fired a 62 in the first round here last year but couldnt hold on through Sunday.
 
I think she learned a lot from this tournament last year, Webb said. Because later in the year she had a couple of tournaments where she had leads and won. And then at Samsung she beat Annika down the stretch.
 
At the Samsung World Championship last October at nearby Bighorn Golf Club, Ochoa fired a final-round 65 to Sorenstams 70 to beat Annika by two.
 
It (Kraft Nabisco last year) was her (Ochoas) tournament to win and she didnt get the job done, Webb said. But, she added, I think those experiences after this experience really gave her the confidence to really continue playing as well as she did last year this year.
 
OCHOAS TAKE:
That confidence spilled over in to a victory last week at the Safeway International in Arizona where Ochoa birdied four of the last five holes to win at an event where, two years earlier, she had squandered a four-shot lead with three to play before losing to Sorenstam in a playoff.
 
What happened last year at Kraft Nabisco? Ochoa insists it was the third round when she threw away several shots needlessly en route to a 74.
 
Especially on the back nine, she said. I gave away two or three shots that I should have just kind of, like, gotten it done to make sure I had a good lead for Sunday.
 
A lot of people have forgotten that Ochoa birdied 16 on Sunday and eagled the par-5 18th to get into the playoff with Webb that she would eventually lose.
 
I was really proud of myself, Ochoa said. I wont forget the way I finished. Those are things I will never change.
 
PRO-AMS:
Webb was asked how the men would react to having to play Pro-Ams the week of a major championship. I dont think theyd stand for it, she said.
 
The women in the field here are required to play in Pro-Ams on Tuesday and Wednesday of tournament week. One of those Pro-Ams takes place on a course other than the Mission Hills course on which the championship will take place.
 
Ochoa, on the other hand, said she had a blast in her Tuesday Pro-Am, mainly because one of her amateur partners was comedian George Lopez.
 
I get all of the jokes because they are half and half, English and Spanish, Ochoa said. Im lucky to understand both. He was very funny.
 
SWEET ALMOST ALWAYS:
Ochoa has developed a reputation for having an unfailingly sweet disposition and the best part about it is that it comes across as being genuinely natural as opposed to syrupy.
 
When I asked her if she ever gets mad, she said, Oh, yes.
 
On and off the course?
 
Both, she said.
 
I asked her if she was aware of the rule Butch Harmon used to have with Tiger Woods: If Tiger hit a bad shot, he was allowed to be angry for 10 yards. Then he had to put it behind immediately.
 
You have to get it out, Ochoa said. I agree with that.
 
Then, after a pause, she added with a smile, Sometimes it takes me more than 10 yards.
 
PAIRINGS:
The marquee pairing for Thursday and Friday are Webb and Ochoa together Thursday at 11:50 a.m. local time and Friday at 8:48, and Sorenstam and Paula Creamer together at 8:48 Thursday and 11:50 Friday.
 
The strangest tee time is the 1:29 p.m. Thursday pairing off the 10th tee for Morgan Pressel and Veronica Zorzi. Its the last tee time of the day off No. 10. And its hard to imagine Pressel, the 17th ranked woman in the world, being happy about it.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.