Castrale Stuns Ochoa in Playoff Victory

By Sports NetworkJune 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
Ginn Tribute Hosted by AnnikaMOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. -- Nicole Castrale collected her first LPGA Tour title on Sunday by winning the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika.
All she had to do was top the No. 1 player in the game in a playoff.
Nicole Castrale
Nicole Castrale poses with the Ginn Tribute trophy and her husband/caddie. (Getty Images)
Castrale parred the first playoff hole to defeat Lorena Ochoa, who fell to 0-4 on the LPGA Tour in sudden death playoffs.
Castrale managed a 1-under 71 on Sunday while Ochoa could do no better than a 2-over 74. The pair finished regulation at 9-under-par 279 and headed back to the 18th at RiverTowne Country Club for the playoff.
Ochoa went first and badly pulled her tee shot into a hazard. Castrale split the fairway, then conservatively played to the center of the green, some 30 feet from the hole. Ochoa had to take a penalty drop, but hit a spectacular third shot 18 feet short of the stick.
Castrale cozied her birdie putt just right of the hole, then tapped in for par. Ochoa needed to hole her putt to extend the playoff, but the ball skimmed the left edge, but stayed above ground.
The title was Castrale's first and as is customary on the LPGA Tour, the beer and champagne shower followed thanks to Laura Diaz and Cristie Kerr.
'I don't know if it's quite hit me yet,' admitted Castrale, who pocketed $390,000 for the win. 'It was fun out there. I stayed patient and it worked out.'
Kerr was in the mix until a disastrous double-bogey at the 17th. She shot a one-over 73 for third place at minus-6.
Paula Creamer and Sarah Lee both shot rounds of 1-under 71 on Sunday to tie for fourth place at 5-under-par 283. Tour rookie Angela Park struggled to a 4-over 76 and took sixth at minus-3.
Castrale and Ochoa reached the playoff due to a combination of clutch putting from Castrale and some poor work by the No. 1 ranked player in the Rolex Rankings.
Castrale was solid throughout Sunday's final round with a bogey at the second and a 40-foot birdie putt at the sixth. Her only other birdie came at the par-5 11th until an important one later in the round.
Ochoa, who started the round with a three-shot lead, parred her first six holes before a bogey at the seventh. She rebounded with a 10-foot birdie putt at the eighth, which reclaimed her three-shot edge.
Ochoa lost a stroke with a bogey at the par-5 11th. It became a two-shot swing thanks to Castrale's birdie at the same hole, but Ochoa, now only one in front, gave herself some more chances.
She missed a 5-foot birdie putt at the 14th, but rolled in a birdie putt at the 15th from 12 feet.
Both players bogeyed the par-5 16th, so Ochoa walked to the 17th tee with a two-shot lead. Ochoa's nine-iron tee ball landed on the back fringe and she hammered her second 7 feet past.
Castrale spun her tee ball back to 12 feet and canned the birdie try to get within one. Ochoa missed her par putt and now the pair was tied with one to play.
'I knew I had to make that,' acknowledged Castrale. 'I expected Lorena to make par from there. Unfortunately she hit a good putt and it didn't go in. I made birdie.'
The two made somewhat tricky par saves at the 18th in regulation, then Castrale walked off with the victory.
Christina Kim (70), Heather Young (71), Mi Hyun Kim (73) and Angela Stanford (75) tied for seventh place at 2-under-par 286.
Tournament host Annika Sorenstam, who returned to action this week after missing time with a neck and back injury, shot a 4-over 76 on Sunday and tied for 36th place at plus-5.
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.