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Randall's Rant: Time for Ochoa, Mallon in LPGA HOF

By Randall MellSeptember 26, 2017, 4:31 pm

The World Golf Hall of Fame unlocks its doors to Lorena Ochoa Tuesday night in its induction ceremony in New York City.

Here’s hoping the doors to the LPGA Hall of Fame will open to her soon after, because she deserves to be in both.

The World Golf Hall of Fame, which is separate from the LPGA, restructured its criteria three years ago, creating a “female competitor category,” which opened the door to more players like Ochoa and Meg Mallon, who haven’t met the LPGA Hall of Fame’s more stringent eligibility requirements. Laura Davies also was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame since the restructuring, even though she falls short of LPGA Hall of Fame eligibility.

We’re likely going to see a lot of women make it into the World Golf Hall of Fame before another makes it into the LPGA Hall of Fame. The LPGA’s Hall is the toughest to gain entry in all of mainstream sports, and it’s getting tougher with each passing year, with the growing international reach of the tour and the strengthening depth.

In the 68-year history of the LPGA, only 25 players have earned induction. Last season, Inbee Park became the first player in almost a decade to qualify.

There’s something especially unfair about Ochoa being left out, because of the neglected nature of the LPGA Hall of Fame’s operation.

Photo gallery: Lorena Ochoa through the years

Photo gallery: Meg Mallon through the years

Ochoa, 35, might already be enshrined in the LPGA Hall of Fame if its veteran’s committee had not inexplicably lapsed into dormancy due to inattention.

Hall of Famer Beth Daniel is working to address the neglect, though that won’t necessarily assure Ochoa’s enshrinement. Daniel is overseeing a 10-member panel that has spent more than a year in a massive review of the LPGA’s Hall of Fame requirements. The panel is evaluating everything from the strict points-based qualifying standard to the veteran’s committee that was set up to consider worthy exceptions to the rules.

Ochoa, 35, is a curious case, because in anyone’s book her achievements should make her one of the LPGA’s all-time greats. She falls short of LPGA Hall of Fame eligibility in one requirement, the 10-year membership rule.

Ochoa reigned as Rolex world No. 1 for 158 consecutive weeks, longer than any player since the Rolex rankings were introduced in 2006. She won 27 LPGA titles, two of them major championships. She was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year four consecutive years (2006-09). Kathy Whitworth and Annika Sorenstam are the only other players to do that since the award was established 51 years ago. Sorenstam won it five times in a row. Ochoa also matched Whitworth by winning the Vare Trophy four consecutive years. The great Mickey Wright is the only player who has won it more consecutive years (1960-64).

Ochoa compiled 37 Hall of Fame points, 10 more than required for induction. The LPGA awards one point for a victory, two for a major, and one point each for a Player of the Year Award or Vare Trophy.

Ochoa’s problem is that she was only an active LPGA member for seven full seasons, falling short of the 10 required for LPGA Hall of Fame eligibility. She announced her retirement early into her eighth season, back in 2010. If she had played full time through 2012, she would have been inducted in 2013.

Still, even without 10 years of membership, Ochoa should have become eligible for veteran’s committee consideration in 2016. The veteran’s committee was set up with the authority to review exceptions, but the committee went 10 years without meeting before Daniel was appointed to lead the panel’s review.

Ochoa’s and Mallon’s inductions Tuesday should be celebrated, not just for what they achieved, but for who they are as two of the great ambassadors of the women’s games. Mallon won 18 times, with four major championships.

The victory totals matter in the measure of greatness, but Tuesday’s induction raises the old question of whether fame should be judged solely by numbers.

While the World Golf Hall of Fame was too subjective for too long, the LPGA Hall of Fame seems too coldly objective. Ochoa is a shining example of that.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.