Ochoa Headlines in Native Mexico

By Lpga Tour MediaOctober 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Corona Morelia ChampionshipMORELIA, Michoacn, Mexico ' The Corona Morelia Championship returns to Morelia, Mexico, this week where Carin Koch will attempt to become just the second player this season to successfully defend her title.
 
This is also the last chance for players to make a move on the ADT Official Money List as the top-90 players after Sunday will be granted exempt status for the 2007 season and players ranked 91 st to 125 will receive non-exempt status. It is also the final Points Event in the LPGA Playoffs 2006 to gain entry into the $1 million-to-the-winner ADT Championship.
 
Koch claimed a six-stroke victory over Karine Icher at the 2005 inaugural tournament. The Swede was the only player to keep all four rounds under par as she recorded 68-69-71-71=279 (-9) to claim her first Tour win since 2001 and the $150,000 first-place check. Meanwhile, after a 1-over-par 73 first round, Icher steadily climbed the leaderboard, finishing at 3-under-par and in second place.
 
Located in the heart of Mexico, Morelia is the midway point between Mexico City heading northwest to Guadalajara. The par-73 course at the Tres Maras Residential Golf Club will challenge players with its mountainous terrain and high elevations, while playing to a difficult 6,600 yards.
 
Guadalajara-native Lorena Ochoa leads the field and will be the undeniable gallery favorite. As the only Mexican player on Tour, Ochoa has been a golf icon in Mexico since earning the 2003 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year title. Ochoa also has a chance this week to become only the second player in Tour history (after world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam) to earn more than $2 million in a season, as she has $1,974,122 to date. A good showing will also extend her nine-point lead over Karrie Webb in the race for Rolex Player of the Year. In 21 events this season, Ochoa has posted 16 top-10 finishes, which means it is very likely she will improve on her 5-over-par 293 tie for 16 th in 2005.
 
Sophia Sheridan, a 22-year-old sponsor exemption also from Guadalajara, will make her LPGA debut as a professional this week. Sheridan was a standout member of the University of California-Berkeley women's golf team and, on the Duramed Futures Tour, posted three top-10 finishes in 11 events this summer. The Corona Morelia Championship is Sheridan's third LPGA Tour event this year after finishing as the low amateur at the MasterCard Classic Honoring Alejo Peralta in March with a tie for 27 th. She also played in the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA but did not make the cut.
 
While Mexico hones in on their homeland favorites, other players will be making moves to claim their share of the $1 million purse. Mi Hyun Kim has seven LPGA Tour victories, including two this season, to rank fifth on the ADT Official Money List. Standing barely over 5-feet tall, the diminutive Kim is 141 st on Tour with a 242-yard driving average, but owns a top-10 rank in 10 additional categories: Rolex Player of the Year (fifth, 123 points); scoring average (seventh, 70.7237); rounds under par (sixth, 60.5 percent); rounds in the 60s (fifth, 38.2 percent); birdies (ninth, 270); top-10 finishes (sixth, 12 of 23 events); driving accuracy (fifth, 79.8 percent); scoring average (seventh, 70.72); putting average (fifth, 28.83); and GIR putting average (sixth, 1.76).
 
American Natalie Gulbis was the first-round leader in 2005 after setting a tournament record with a 6-under-par 66, but a 3-over-par 75 in the second round followed by 72-74 on the weekend left her in a tie for fifth. Gulbis' best finish of this season has been a runner-up to Kim after a three-hole, sudden-death playoff at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger. Her strong start at the 2005 Corona Morelia Championship combined with another year of experience on Tour may be what it takes for Gulbis to make her winner's circle debut this week.
 
Sitting in 12 th and just ahead of Gulbis on the ADT Official Money List is Paula Creamer. Creamer has spent the majority of the season battling a wrist injury, but has still posted an impressive nine top-10 finishes in 22 starts. Although winless in her sophomore year on Tour, Creamer has earned more than $800,000 this season with nearly two more months to play.
 
The Corona Morelia Championship is the 20 th and final Points Event of the LPGA Playoffs 2006, which means the top-20 finishers this week will earn double points toward second-half qualifying for the ADT Championship in November. Of the players in the field this week, Morgan Pressel is third with 90 points and less than 20 points behind fellow Tour rookie Jee Young Lee (108 points). Stacy Prammanasudh is in fourth place (86 points) in the ADT Points race.
 
During the second half of the LPGA Playoffs 2006, Sherri Steinhauer has automatically qualified with her Major Event win at the Weetabix Women's British Open. Karrie Webb won the Evian Masters'a Winner Event'in which the winner also automatically qualifies for the ADT Championship. Webb initially qualified during the first half of the LPGA Playoffs 2006, so the spot will be filled by top-points earners after The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions, also a Winner Event, along with the Samsung World Championship. The top cumulative ADT Points earner from the three Global Group events'Honda LPGA Thailand 2006, Kolon Hanna Bank Classic and Mizuno Classic'will fill the last of the three automatic-entry spots that remain.
 
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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern of architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.