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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    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.