Kang Looking Out For Ochoa

By Futures Tour MediaAugust 10, 2002, 4:00 pm
Futures TourMORGANTOWN, W. Va - Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, wasted little time positioning herself for her second win in as many events, firing a 3-under-par 69 for a 137 (-7) to take the second-round lead at the $70,000 Betty Puskar Futures Golf Classic. Kang leads by one shot over former college rival Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico. Ochoa shot a bogey-free 68 (-4) on the 6,539-yard par 72 The Pines Country Club in Morgantown, W. Va.
 
Entering the second round only one shot off the lead at 68 (-4), Kang immediately took over top spot on the leaderboard. She carded consecutive birdies on one, two, and three, making respective putts of 18, 15, and three feet, and jumped to 7-under-par for the tournament. Another birdie on the par-4 355-yard sixth hole increased her lead to five shots ahead of Ochoa, who was playing two groups ahead.
 
Despite two bogeys on eight and 11, Kang was able to recover with a birdie on 13. She parred her remaining holes and ended at 69 (-3).
 
'I made a 20-foot putt for par on 18 which really saved me,' commented Kang, a former collegiate standout at Arizona State University. 'I really didnt have time to be nervous today because I was busy getting myself into trouble on the course. Tomorrow is a new round and I have to putt well to win. Lorena and I both know each others game. It should be very exciting tomorrow.'
 
Ochoa, a former golf star at the University of Arizona, entered the second day tied for sixth at 70 (-2). She played steady and improved to 6-under-par for the tournament after she registered birdies on four, 11, 15, and 16 to come within one shot of Kang. Ochoa finished with a 68 (-4) for a 36-hole total of 138 (-6).
 
This will be the second time Ochoa and Kang will play together in the final round. Just three weeks ago in Syracuse, N.Y., Ochoa lost by one stroke to Kang at the M&T Bank Loretto Futures Golf Classic.
 
'Anything is possible on this course if you putt well,' Ochoa said. 'Jimin and I competed against each other in college and Im very proud of her and what she has accomplished out here in such a short time. I enjoy playing under pressure and I think it will be a close round tomorrow.'
 
Mary Kay Marino of Scottsdale, Ariz., started the day tied for 60th with a 74 (+2), seven shots off the lead. She turned up the heat early on, draining a 27-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 332-yard first hole. Marino recorded four more birdies on two, six, seven, and eight and a lone bogey on three, and made the turn at 2-under-par for the tournament. She picked up three more birdies on the back side to end with a hot 65 (-7) for a 139 (-5) total.
 
'My ball striking was great and I wasnt hitting it into the trees today,' commented Marino, whose score set a new career record. 'I did leave some putts out there, but Im extremely pleased with my round.'
 
Meanwhile, Teresa Ishiguro of Sutter Creek, Calif., who was two shots behind after round one at 69 (-3), fired a 2-under-par 70 and tied Marino at 139 (-5). Ishiguro birdied 11, 16, 17, and bogeyed 18.
 
Ishiguro, whose best finish is a tied for sixth at the Lincoln Futures Golf Classic, stated, 'Nothing was really happening on the front nine for me, but I stayed patient. I was hitting a lot of greens and the ball was bouncing really well for me. Tomorrow, I just need to remain calm and play my own game.'
 
Linda Sorensen of Jonkoping, Sweden, recorded her first Futures Tour ace on the par-3 165-yard 12th hole, hitting her 5-iron into the cup. Sorensen finished the round at 78 (+6) for a 158 (+14). She missed the 36-hole cut.
 

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.