A World of Possibilities

By Randall MellMay 3, 2010, 5:49 am

Ai Miyazato offered up her victory as a farewell tribute to her friend.

Miyazato said she wanted to show Lorena Ochoa what she has gained studying her during Ochoa’s reign as the No. 1 player in women’s golf.

“I’ve learned so much from Lorena,” Miyazato said in a telephone call Sunday after she won the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico. “I love Lorena’s passion for the game, what she’s done for her country, what she’s done off the course. I wanted to play well for her this week, to show her how well I’m playing now.”

Ai Miyazato
Ai Miyazato hold her third LPGA trophy of the season. (Getty Images)
Miyazato showed Ochoa that she might already be the best player in women’s golf even if she doesn’t succeed Ochoa as No. 1 when the newest Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are released Monday morning.

That was the stirring subplot to Sunday’s emotional conclusion to the Tres Marias Championship.

The fiercely competitive fight to assume Ochoa’s throne was equal parts thrilling and sad.

“When I won, I thought about Lorena,” said Miyazato, who played the first two rounds with Ochoa. “I’ve been crying all week.”

Ochoa, 28, said goodbye to more than she intended in her farewell appearance as a full-time player. She was bounced from her No. 1 spot with those who crave her crown impatiently pressing their cases with ruthless charges.

South Korea’s Jiyai Shin should ascend a spot to No. 1 in the newest rankings, according to unofficial LPGA projections, though tour officials aren’t ruling out the possibility Miyazato won’t assume the top spot when the final numbers are crunched. Shin, though, appears best positioned to move up after winning Sunday at the Japan LPGA Tour’s CyberAgent Ladies event in Chiba.

If that’s the case, Miyazato looks poised to make sure that’s a short-lived run.

Five events into the new LPGA season, Miyazato, 24, has already claimed three victories. That’s the hottest start on the LPGA since Annika Sorenstam won three of the first four events in 2005.

Ochoa, 28, wanted to go out on top, but with Shin winning overseas, she was forced to finish fourth or better to hold onto her No. 1 ranking, according to LPGA projections. Ochoa finished sixth but found more than consolation in Sunday's outpouring of love from fans and fellow players alike.

'I announced my retirement [as No. 1] last week,' Ochoa told reporters in Mexico. 'Today, I'm still No. 1.'

Miyazato and Shin are worthy successors to the classy legacy Ochoa leaves. Their sweet, humble dispositions rival Ochoa’s. They don’t play the game the same way Ochoa did, though. They aren’t power players. Instead, they make their livings with straight driving, terrific iron play and short games.

That an Asian should ascend to No. 1 this week, specifically a South Korean, is fitting.

Players from the Far East have a sweep going this year. They’ve won all five LPGA events played.

Sixty-one players from the top 100 in the world rankings this week are Asian

South Korea rules with 34 players among the top 100. Japan’s next with 21 and the United States is third with 20.

Miyazato is a rock star in Japan, a huge draw there who brings a legion of journalists wherever she plays.

The question is how Miyazato and Shin will impact American interest if they continue to separate themselves this season.

There were other strong messages delivered from challengers Sunday in Mexico.

Michelle Wie, 20, got herself in position to win, boosting American hopes that one of their own will jump hard into this fight for Ochoa’s throne.

Wie took command going to the back nine at Tres Marias Country Club. She holed a wedge from the fairway for eagle to take a one-shot lead to the 10th tee. A victory on this Sunday, in this goodbye to Ochoa, would have been convincing evidence that Wie is this tour’s Once and Future Queen, but she stumbled down the stretch with Miyazato charging. Wie double bogeyed the 13th and missed a 2-footer for par at the 17th. Wie’s ability to put herself in position to win bolsters her fans’ beliefs that she’s headed in the right direction while fueling her critics’ beliefs she’s yet to prove she can close hard enough to be dominant.

American Stacy Lewis, 24, stepped up with an impressive challenge. She put the most pressure on Miyazato, making a clutch birdie at the 18th to force Miyazato to hole a 10-foot putt for par to win at the final hole. Lewis, the tough Texan who tied for third as an amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open two year ago, showed she might be ready to mount a challenge as the best American in the game.

Brittany Lincicome, 24, also made progress in this event, challenging before a disappointing Sunday fade.

Yani Tseng, No. 3 in the world, wasn’t in this week’s field. No. 4 Suzann Pettersen wasn’t a factor until closing with a 65 on Sunday to log a top-10 finish. No. 6 Cristie Kerr wasn’t in the field, but all three of these players are sure to have something to say about who ultimately rules over this tour.

The nature of Sunday’s finish says something about the hard scramble that might be ahead as the tour searches for its next dominant player.

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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 GolfChannel.com 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.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.