Ochoa Hopes to Reverse Open Stumble

By George WhiteJune 26, 2006, 4:00 pm
USGANEWPORT, R.I. -- Last year, it was one of the worst days of her life. She hopes this year it will be the best.
 
Lorena Ochoa was tied for the lead when she came to the 72nd hole of the 2005 U.S. Womens Open. She promptly hit her 3-wood tee shot into the water and finished with a triple bogey.
 
This year? Ochoa is one of the hottest players on the LPGA. And she hopes she can do what last year she could not ' get past the 72nd hole all the way to the throne room.
 
The 61st playing of the U.S. Womens Open occurs this week at Newport Country Club. And this year, Ochoa, perhaps the hottest player on the LPGA, hopes to have a different outcome. Last year, the follies on the last hole should have made her distraught. Instead, they placed in her a steely resolve to do better this year.
 
I just woke up the next day and I was ready to go for the next tournament, she said. Some players are really hard on themselves and some, it's just easier for them to forget. I'm the type of player that I just learn when I can and just kind of leave that behind. You cannot blame yourself.
 
Ochoa has sparkling credentials already in 2006 ' two wins, and almost equally as impressive, five times she has either finished second or tied for second. Thats seven times shes finished in the top two ' think she hasnt learned from last years Open?
 
I talked to many good players and they have had nice advice from them - Beth Daniel, Meg Mallon, Nancy Lopez. And we have all been there, and we all made a bad shot at the last hole. And, you know, I really had a nice chance to win the tournament. And I was really happy and I just tried to take everything the best way I can and that just taught me.
 
Ochoa today can put the tee shot on 18 behind her because, after all, she did achieve one superlative at the tournament. Never before had anyone from her country finished so high in the U.S. Open.

We were laughing because in the morning (Sunday morning at the Open) I told my mom, We have a chance to make history today, to win the U.S. Open - being a Mexican. And then my finish (after the water ball), I talked to my parents at the end of the round and they are like, You made history, nobody is going to forget that. You know, just trying to take it the best way.
 
She never should have selected the 3-wood in the first place, she said. She should have hit her 5-wood or rescue club. Or, if she decided to go ahead and hit 3-wood, she should have made a good, full pass at it.

Just I learned from myself when I get under pressure, I get too quick with my hands and I knew 3-wood it could be a little bit too much, she said. So I just tried to make an easy swing and my hands got me in that swing.
 
And, she said, she hit the ball fat, to further complicate matters.
 
It was just making a bad decision to hit that 3-wood, trying to swing easy. And when you're under pressure, you have to hit a different club just to make sure that you make a full and aggressive swing. And I can tell you, that's not going to happen again, said Ochoa.
 
One would think this year that she is truly determined to win the Open after letting it slip away last year. But no, she isnt putting undue stress on herself to win this week. She fights hard to maintain the same even keel that she is on the entire year.
 
It's not good to put more pressure than there already is, said Ochoa. I don't think that this is major - I think we're playing the same game, same players, same conditions for everybody and just one more tournament.
 
But ' she confesses that it isnt just another tournament. It is the U.S. Open, and as such, its difficult trying to think this is just another week in the year.
 
It's always the dream of a golfer, a professional, to win majors. And I can only say that I'm ready for it and I'm really excited that I feel comfortable in my game and I have been getting close to win tournaments and I'm going to just try to do the same.
 
I think that's all it takes - just giving yourself a chance and just taking advantage of the good momentum out there and then do it.
 
And as many opportunities as she has already ' and didnt get it done ' is just one more learning opportunity, she says.
 
I look at it in a positive way. I think as many opportunities you give yourself to win is the best, and there is going to be a time when they come my way, said Ochoa.
 
I've been frustrated a couple of times when I wanted to get that trophy. But I'm saying, Lorena, be patient and hopefully they come this year. I think I'm more prepared and I really want to win.
 
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  • What's in the bag: RSM Classic winner Cook

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 20, 2017, 3:52 pm

    PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook earned his first Tour title at the RSM Classic. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Ping G400 (8.5 degrees adjusted to 9.2), with Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661X shaft

    Fairway wood: Ping G400 (13 degrees), with Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 shaft

    Hybrids: Ping G400 (19, 22 degrees), with Matrix Altus Red X shafts

    Irons: Ping S55 (5-PW), with KBS Tour S shafts

    Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50, 56, 60) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

    Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1

    Monday Scramble: For money and love

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 20, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Lexi Thompson falters, Jon Rahm impresses, Justin Rose stuns, Austin Cook breaks through and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble:

    It’ll be a long two months for Lexi Thompson.

    She’ll have plenty to think about this offseason after a strong 2017 season that could have been spectacular.

    She won twice, led the LPGA in scoring average and took home the $1 million first-place prize … but she also finished second six times – none more excruciating than the careless spotting in the first major of the year and the 2-foot miss in the season finale – and dealt with the crushing off-course distraction of her mother, Judy, battling cancer.

    Thompson said all the right things after the CME Group Tour Championship, that those types of short misses happen in golf, that she’s overcome adversity before.

    “It didn’t stop me,” she said, “and this won’t either.”

    But at 22, she has already accumulated an incredible amount of scar tissue, especially for a player with world-beater talent.

    What will 2018 bring? For Lexi’s sake, hopefully it’s more wins, not heartbreak. 


    1. The Thompson miss was plenty awkward. So was the end to the LPGA season.

    In a fitting result for a year in which no dominant player emerged, So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park shared the Player of the Year award, after both players finished with 162 points. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1966.

    Can’t there be some way to break the tie? Low scoring average? Best finishes in the majors? A chip-off content? Rock-paper-scissors?

    2. Some of the other awards ...

    Vare Trophy: Thompson, who finished the year with a 69.114 average. Maybe the players this year were just really good, but it’s a bit of a head-scratcher than 12 players finished with a sub-70 average, besting the previous best total of, gulp, five. Easier setups?

    Money title: Park, with $2.336 in earnings.

    No. 1 ranking: Shanshan Feng, though Thompson had a chance to take over the top spot. Alas, that final green … 



    3. Oh, and there was also the tournament winner: Ariya Jutanugarn, who capped a bizarre year with a satisfying title.

    Perhaps only Thompson boasts as much talent as Jutanugarn, and yet the Thai star showed her vulnerability this year. After reaching No. 1 in the world, she struggled through a shoulder injury and then missed five cuts and withdrew from another event in a seven-start span.

    Here’s hoping she learned how to deal with that spotlight, because she’s going to be challenging for the No. 1 ranking for a while.

    4. Of course, we wrote that about Lydia Ko, too, and she just wrapped up her first winless season on tour since she was 15.

    She had 11 top-10s, including three runners-up, but failing to earn a victory was a massive disappointment for a player who was No. 1 in the world for 85 weeks. Perhaps next year she’ll get back on track, but you never know – she changed swings, coaches, equipment and caddies. That's a lot of turnover.



    5. So much for that “controversial” Rookie of the Year award.

    Jon Rahm, named Europe’s top newcomer despite playing only four regular-season events, left little doubt about who was the breakout star of the year with a comeback victory at the DP World Tour Championship.

    Though it wasn’t enough to claim the Race to Dubai title – he finished third – it should serve as a warning to the rest of the European Tour that the 23-year-old Rahm be the man to beat for the next, oh, decade or so.

    6. Ranked fourth in the world, particularly impressive because he hasn’t yet hit the minimum divisor in the rankings, Rahm wrapped up a season in which he won in California, Ireland and Dubai.

    Just imagine how good he’ll be when he’s not seeing all of these courses for the first time. 

    7. The biggest stunner on the final day was the play of Justin Rose, who entered the final round with a one-shot lead.

    He seemed to be on cruise control, going out in 4 under, but he encountered all sorts of trouble on the back nine, making three bogeys a variety of ways – wayward drives, flared approaches into the water and missed shorties.

    Not only did it cost him the DP World Tour Championship title, but it allowed Tommy Fleetwood – even with a closing 74 – to take the end-of-season Race to Dubai title.



    8. Austin Cook is now a PGA Tour winner – and what a circuitous journey it has been.

    After turning pro in 2014, he played the mini-tours, racking up five top-10s in nine starts on the Adams Tour. A year later, with a chance to earn his Web.com card, he finished bogey-bogey-quad-double. And then last year, Hurricane Matthew forced officials to cancel the Web.com Tour Championship. That left Cook without his card – by $425.

    He made it to the big leagues this fall, after finishing 20th on the money list, and then won in just his 14th career Tour start.  

    “I’ve been close on the Web a couple times but haven’t been able to get the job done, and to be able to do it on the biggest stage in the world, it definitely boosts my confidence and lets me know that I can play with these guys,” he said. 

    9. Sam Horsfield, who in 2016 was the NCAA Freshman of the Year, routed the field at European Tour Q-School to earn his card for next year. He shot 27 under (!) during the five-round event to win by eight.

    Expectations have been high for the 21-year-old ever since he received a public endorsement from Ian Poulter. His mentor chimed in again after Horsfield got his card:

    Another great story to come out of Q-School was Jigger Thomson, who is interesting not just because of his incredible height – he’s 6-foot-9 – but his back story, after battling leukemia as a kid.

    10. A limited fall schedule hasn’t cost Brooks Koepka any of his stellar form.

    The U.S. Open champion defended his title at the Dunlop Phoenix, shooting 20 under par – one off his own scoring mark – and winning by a record nine shots. The margin of victory was one shot better than Tiger Woods’ romp there in 2004.

    This was only Koepka’s second start since the Tour Championship (tied for second at the WGC-HSBC Champions).

    Xander Schauffele tied for second while Hideki Matsuyama finished fifth. This is the time last year, remember, in which the Japanese star was the hottest player in the world, taking four titles in six starts, but he admitted of going up against Koepka right now: “I feel there’s a huge gap between us.” 

    Um, has this ever happened before?

    I.K. Kim had a WILD third round at the CME Tour Championship, making only seven pars and recording everything from a 1 to a 7 en route to a ho-hum 71. 

    This week's award winners ... 


    Back Under the Knife: Davis Love III. Set to undergo replacement surgery on his left hip, Love is looking at another extended layoff, likely about four months.  

    Underrated Fall Performances: J.J. Spaun and Brian Harman. Spaun, who held the 54-hole lead at the Shriners, earned his first runner-up finish at the RSM, his third consecutive top-15. Harman, who won the Wells Fargo in May, had three top-8s. 

    Fill-In Duty: Cameron McCormick. Jordan Spieth’s swing coach will be on the bag for Spieth this week in Australia with his regular caddie, Michael Greller, at home with his wife and new baby.  

    Get Well Soon: Luke Donald. He withdrew from the RSM because of chest pain. He spent the night in the hospital, undergoing seven hours of tests, but was given the all-clear sign. 


    All the Best: Webb Simpson. Wishing the best to the Simpson family, after Webb chose to WD from Sea Island after rounds of 67-68 so he could spend time with his father, Sam, who, Simpson tweeted is “sick and living his last days.” 

    Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Charles Howell III. Red-hot to open the season, with three consecutive top-10s, Howell missed the cut at Sea Island where he was 7-for-7 with three top-10s and a tie for 13th. Sigh. 

    Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

    Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

    “I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

    Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

    “Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

    LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.