Ochoa Kim and Nagl Exempt for 2003 LPGA Tour

By Futures Tour MediaAugust 18, 2002, 4:00 pm
YORK, Pa., ' Futures Golf Tour rookie sensations Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Christina Kim of San Jose, Calif., and second-year Futures Tour player Miriam Nagl of Berlin, Germany, qualified Monday as LPGA Tour exempt members for the 2003 season by finishing in the top three on the Futures Tour money list. This is the fourth year in the 22-year history of the Futures Tour that players have received automatic exemptions onto the LPGA Tour.
Also Monday, players ranked fourth through 10th on the money list received automatic entry into the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to be held Oct. 8 ' 11 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Those players, in order of finish, are Sue Ginter-Brooker of Appleton, Wis., Michele Vinieratos of Altamonte Springs, Fla., Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England, Melinda Price of Jupiter, Fla., Lisa Strom of North Wales, Pa., Linda Ishii of Los Angeles, Calif., and Nicole Materne of Spokane, Wash.
Ochoa, who turned professional in late May, had eight top-10 finishes in just 10 tournaments, including three wins. Her first win came three weeks after turning professional at the JWA/Michelob Light Futures Charity Golf Classic in Decatur, Ill. She went on to capture the Ann Arbor Futures Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., and then just a week ago won the Betty Puskar Futures Golf Classic in Morgantown, W. Va., to solidify her place in the top three. Her tie for 13th this week allowed her to top the Futures Tour money list with $53,702 and take home Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors, edging Kim by just $242.
'I cant wait to start to play on LPGA Tour,' said the 20-year-old Ochoa, who was runner-up in four tournaments this year. 'This has been my dream since I have been playing golf as well as a dream of my family and of all of Mexico. And I finally did it.
'The Futures Tour allowed me to achieve this goal and I think the Tour is the best way to get to the LPGA and at the same time gain much needed experience. The competition out here is really fierce and week to week the players are gunning for the top spot.'
Kim, who played in eight Futures Tour events last season as an amateur, had a very consistent year, competing in 18 tournaments and posting 12 top-10 finishes, including four runners-up and one win. Her victory came at the Hewlett-Packard Garden State Futures Summer Classic in Manalapan, N.J. Since June, Kim was leading the money list until Ochoa won the Morgantown event. She finished second on the Futures Tour Money List with $53,460.
The 18-year-old Kim said, 'It is an incredible feeling to get my LPGA Tour card. I cant put it to words, the feeling has overcome me and I am lost for words. All I know now is that turning professional this year and playing on the Futures Tour was the right decision. The Futures Tour is far more than getting a Tour card, it is a place to learn how to win, learn how to be a player, and you learn how to be professional.'
The third spot came down to the very last tournament. Heading into the season finale York Newspaper Company Futures Classic in York, Pa., Nagl was in third with five players having the opportunity to take her spot. She finished tied for 21st and held off any charges. Nagl had seven top-10 finishes in 17 tournaments including two wins, the Grand Rapids Futures Classic in Grand Rapids, Mich., and the Capital Region Futures Classic in Albany, N.Y. Her total earnings were $39,099.
'I would be lying if I told you that I was not thinking about the top three this week, but I decided that I had to go out and play my own game and the golf course like I had all year and just see what happened,' said the 21-year-old Nagl. 'Getting my LPGA Tour card means that I have accomplished one of my dreams. It has also proved to me that what I have worked on all year has paid off. Now I know that I can go on the LPGA Tour and contend.'
Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officer of the Futures Tour, said, 'We are sending three outstanding players onto the LPGA Tour. They are young accomplished golfers and great representatives of womens golf. Their energy and drive is certain to make a mark on the LPGA.'

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up right where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.