Hjorth Races to Early Lead

By Sports NetworkAugust 31, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 State Farm ClassicSPRINGFIELD, Ill. ' Sweden's Maria Hjorth fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the State Farm Classic at The Rail Golf Course.
 
Dina Ammaccapane, Nina Reis and Brittany Lang are knotted in second place at 6-under-par 66.
 
Lorena Ochoa, the LPGA Tour's money leader, carded a 5-under-par 67 on Thursday and is part of a large group tied for fifth place.
 
Ochoa, who earned her third victory of the season last week, collected three birdies in her opening five holes, but then parred her final four holes on the front side.
 
The tour's leading money winner birdied the 10th, but dropped a shot on No. 13. Ochoa moved up the leaderboard with a pair of birdies at 16 and 18 and now is in a strong place to keep her lead on the money list.
 
'I played very good,' said Ochoa. 'I think I'm in a good position for the next few days and that is all that matters. My game is good and I'll be ready to go tomorrow.'
 
Annika Sorenstam, who played with Ochoa on Thursday, shot a 2-under 70 and is part of a group tied for 26th place.
 
Sorenstam birdied the first from 3 feet, and eagled the par-5 fourth. She bogeyed five, but got that shot back with a birdie at No. 8.
 
The Swede birdied the 14th hole, but she bogeyed 16 when her approach landed in the water. Sorenstam also bogeyed the last to fall down the leaderboard.
 
'I'm not really worried,' acknowledged Sorenstam, who has never won this title. 'I'm just disappointed obviously. It's no fun to finish the way I did.'
 
Sorenstam is looking up at her Solheim Cup teammate.
 
Hjorth began on the back nine Thursday and collected her first birdie at the par-5 12th when her 8-footer found the bottom of the cup. She tallied one other first-nine birdie, at the par-5 15th. Hjorth came up short of the green with her second, then chipped to 4 feet to make the turn at 2 under par.
 
The Swede parred her first three holes on the second nine, but caught fire.
 
At the par-5 fourth, Hjorth hit her rescue-club over the green, but chipped inside a foot. She made it back-to-back birdies when she hit a 7-iron to 20 feet at the par-3 fifth.
 
Hjorth kept her strong play going at six. She drove into a fairway bunker, but knocked an 8-iron to 15 feet to set up her third birdie in a row. She polished off her fourth birdie in a row at seven when she played a 6-iron inside 5 feet.
 
'I was hitting a few close and then also making the putts that I needed,' said Hjorth, referring to her birdie run on the second nine. 'It was fun.'
 
Hjorth parred the eighth, but closed in style. At the par-4 ninth, Hjorth knocked a 7-iron to 20 feet and converted the birdie putt to grab sole possession of the lead.
 
'I played pretty well,' said Hjorth, whose best finish this season was at her first event, a tie for 13th at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay. 'I played very solid all day. Hopefully I can keep going. I've had some good rounds, but not really four in a row. Hopefully this week will be the week to put it all together.'
 
Sophie Gustafson, Julieta Granada, Il Mi Chung, Young Kim, Seon-Hwa Lee, Kellie Kuehne and Catherine Cartwright joined Ochoa in fifth place at minus-5.
 
Defending champion Pat Hurst, who lost to Sorenstam in a playoff at the U.S. Women's Open, struggled to a 1-over-par 73 and is tied for 85th place.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.