Fortunes Come True for Sorenstam
Sorenstam hit the pavement running making birdies on two of her first three holes of the day. By the time she made the turn she had bested the rest of the field by a comfortable five stroke lead at 20-under-par, after shooting a 31 on the front side.
That wasn't enough for the tenacious Swede. She burned up the course on the backside as well. By the 16th she had reached 23-under-par, broken the course record that she and Pat Hurst set last year of 19-under-par, and it looked as if her goal was to break all time 72-hole record.
Sorenstam comments on her Welch's/Circle K win.
On the 18th, Sorenstam left her approach shot short of the green. Undaunted, the former University of Arizona teammate made her way up to her ball waiving her Wildcat head cover in the air. She got the ball up and down with a solid chip that left her with a 12-foot putt.
At 23-under and 12-feet away from the hole, Annika was tied with four others for posting the second all time lowest 72-hole score. Karrie Webb recorded the lowest score of 26-under-par 262 at the 1999 Australian Ladies Masters.
Sorenstam was denied a birdie after her putt lipped out of the hole. She settled for par on the last, 7-under-par 65 for the final round and her first win since last July.
I'll tell you an interesting story,' Annika said. 'I went to dinner Tuesday night and opened a fortune cookie and the fortune read `Your goals will come true this week.' Then the next night I went to a different restaurant, and believe it or not, my fortune cookie read the exact same fortune.'
She is now the proud owner of two, solid copper mesquite tree trophies. Asked if Sorenstam would use her trophies as book ends the champion quipped 'Yeah, now I'll just have to get some books.'
Six shots off the lead, Se Ri Pak was unable to put any pressure on Annika today. 'It was pretty hard to catch Annika because she was on fire today,' Pak said after her round.
Pak could have held sole possession of second but for a missed birdie putt on the 18th. She finish tied for second at 17-under-par 271. 'I don't know what happened,' Pak said of her missed putt. 'It looked like it was OK but then it just didn't go in.'
Jen Hanna had a tough day today. Paired with Dottie Pepper, Hanna shot a disappointing 4-over-par to finish the tournament in the middle of the pack at 9-under-par 279.
Pepper finished tied for second at 17-under par 271 after sinking a spectacular 50-foot putt. Just moment's prior, the fiery Pepper showed physical disgust with the results of her bunker shot. Undeterred by her bad lie, she got the ball up and down leaving her with the long putt that she ultimately made.
Donning flamingo pink pants, Michelle McGann had fun with the gallery as she made her way around the course shooting 8-under-par 64 in the process and finishing the tournament tied with four others in second place at 17-under-par 271.
Amateur Lorena Ochoa of Guatemala, Mexico shot 7-under-par 65 during the final round to record her first top ten finish. She carded a bogey free round to finish the tournament tied with Nancy Scranton and Julie Inkster at 12-under-par 276.
Ochoa, a freshman at the University of Arizona, received a sponsor's exemption into the Tucson event and chose to play in it over the Mexican Amateur Championship. 'It was a hard decision in the beginning, but it was the best decision for me,' she said. ' I decided it is time to move forward. I stand by my decision, and I am happy with it.'
This is only the second professional event the young amateur has played in. The first was the 2000 U.S. Women's Open where she shot 75-78 153 to miss the cut. 'It has been an incredible week. I really enjoyed playing,' said the 19-year-old. Everything was working for me today.'
Ochoa is playing in this year's U.S. Women's Open on a sponsors' exemption. 'It is one of the majors and I am honored to be one of the amateur's playing in it.'
News & Notes
*Pearl Sinn aced the 189 yard par-3 11th using her 7-wood.
*Sorenstam was winless for the last 11 tournaments she competed in yet managed to record 9 top tens.
TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:
• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.
• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.
• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.
• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.
• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.
• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them.
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar
DOHA, Qatar – Eddie Pepperell, Gregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.
Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.
One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.
Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.
Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.
Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.
He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.
''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.
''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.
''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.
''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”
Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.
''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.
''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''
Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.
Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.
How to watch:
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET
Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)
Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)
Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.
Notables in the field:
• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.
• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.
• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.
• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.
• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.
• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green.
• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.
• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.
• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).