Ochoa Again in Position for First Win

By Sports NetworkMay 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Franklin American Mortgage Champ.FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Lorena Ochoa carded her second consecutive, 5-under 67 on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead of the Franklin American Mortgage Championship. She stands at 12-under-par 204 at the Ironhorse Course at Vanderbilt Legends Club.
Ochoa shared the third-round lead with Cristie Kerr last week at the Michelob Ultra Championship, but shot an even-par 71 and was overcome by Se Ri Pak. Ochoa, a collegiate standout expected to make a big splash on the LPGA Tour, now has another opportunity for victory No. 1.
'I have been very consistent and been in the top 10 and that's what I've been trying to do,' said Ochoa. 'I'm ready and prepared, and I've learned a lot. I'm not going to change my plan because I have been doing good so far.'
Mi-Hyun Kim fired her lowest round of the year on Saturday with an 8-under-par 64. She is tied with 36-hole co-leader Pat Hurst, who shot a second-round 68, at 11-under-par 205.
The second round was completed Saturday morning after darkness forced the suspension of play on Friday. After overnight rain, play was contested under lift, clean and place.
Ochoa struggled on the front side with an even-par 36. She got rolling on the back nine with a 25-foot birdie putt at the 10th, which pulled her one shot from the lead.
She canned a 7-footer for birdie at 11 and made it three in a row with a 6-footer at the 12th. That birdie tied her with playing partner Hurst atop the leaderboard.
At the 14th, Ochoa sank a 12-foot birdie putt. She birdied No. 15 to go ahead by two, but Kim and Hurst both birdied 18 to shrink Ochoa's margin to a single stroke.
'I'm extremely happy with the way I finished,' said Ochoa. 'I didn't play the way I wanted to with the bogeys and being even on the front, but I got going on the back.'
Kim was flawless on Saturday with five birdies on her front nine. She ran home a 10-footer for birdie at the 14th, then sank an 18-footer for her second straight birdie at the 15th.
Kim got into the clubhouse at 11 under par thanks to her play at the par-5 closing hole. She knocked a wedge 18 feet from the hole and drained the birdie putt for her 64.
'I didn't have a birdie yesterday, so after the second round I didn't practice because I wanted to lose my bad feel,' Kim said. 'I just ate a lot and didn't think about golf.'
Hurst landed in a bunker at the seventh, but blasted out to 12 feet and holed the birdie putt. She converted a pair of birdie putts inside 10 feet at nine and 11, then birdied 18 to get within one of Ochoa's lead.
'I played pretty good,' said Hurst, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour. 'I was just hitting it pretty close and making putts. I'm just trying to go out and play and make as many birdies as I can.'
Wendy Ward shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday and is alone in fourth at minus-10. Stacy Prammanasudh also posted a 4-under 68 and has fifth to herself at 9-under-par 207.
Dorothy Delasin only managed a 1-under 71 but has sole possession of sixth place at 7-under-par 209. She is one ahead of Liselotte Neumann, who carded a 4-under 68 on Saturday.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.