Ochoa Inkster Share Lead in France

By Sports NetworkJuly 23, 2003, 4:00 pm
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France -- Lorena Ochoa and Juli Inkster posted matching rounds of 6-under-par 66 on Wednesday to share the opening-round lead at the Evian Masters.
Rosie Jones is alone in third place after a 5-under 67 at Royal Evian Golf Club, followed by Janice Moodie and Jeong Jang, who share fourth place at 4-under-par 68.
Annika Sorenstam is back on tour after pulling out of the Canadian Women's Open two weeks ago. She opened her title defense this week with an even-par 72 and is part of a group tied for 31st.
Ochoa wasted little time in breaking into red figures on Wednesday as she sank a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 1. She birdied three in a row, starting with the fourth hole, with all three birdie putts inside 10 feet.
At the par-5 seventh, Ochoa reached the putting surface in two with a 3-wood and drained the 20-footer for eagle. Two holes later, at the next par-5, Ochoa once again reached in two but this time two-putted for birdie from 30 feet.
A birdie at No. 9 polished off a front-nine 29, which matched Susie Redman's nine-hole tournament record from 2000.
'I've shot 29 before,' said Ochoa, a tour rookie who dominated collegiate golf at the University of Arizona. 'It was pretty incredible, especially my eagle putt on No. 7. That was a really good feeling.'
Ochoa did not have the same fortune on the second nine. She missed a pair of eight-footers for par at 12 and 13 but came back to tie Inkster for first with a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 16.
'I knew the back nine is a lot tougher than the front nine, so I knew that I wasn't going to be able to shoot another 29,' said Ochoa. 'You're going to make mistakes once in a while. I was very happy with how I finished.'
Ochoa has been nothing short of spectacular in her rookie campaign, including five top-6 finishes. In college, she collected 12 wins, including eight in a 10-tournament span.
'When I played in college, I played very well and learned very much,' said Ochoa. 'I thought I could get here and be good, so I'm just trying to do the same thing I did when I was in college.'
Inkster, whose amateur career was highlighted by three U.S. Women's Amateur titles in a row from 1980-82, did not have the kind of start as her younger co-leader.
She only managed three birdies on the front side but holed an eight-footer for birdie at No. 10 to reach 4-under par for the championship. Inkster, a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame with seven major titles to her record, knocked a 5-iron to 18 feet to set up birdie at the par-3 14th, but trouble loomed.
At the par-5 15th, Inkster drove out of bounds and was forced to head back to re-tee. By the time she reached the green, she had a five-footer for bogey but the putt never touched the hole and Inkster walked off with a double-bogey.
Inkster recovered at the short par-4 16t. She played a sand-wedge to six feet for birdie. At the 18th, Inkster's drive left her only 200 yards to the pin, and she reached the par-5 green in two with a 5-iron. She rolled home the short eagle putt to grab a piece of the first-round lead.
'I played really steady out there today,' said Inkster. 'I made one bad swing on the par-5 but I had a lot of birdie opportunities. I hit a lot of fairways so I had a lot of putts at it.'
Samantha Head is in sixth place after an opening-round 69, followed by a group of nine players tied for seventh at minus-2. Among the notable players in the group at 70 are former champions Laura Davies and Rachel Teske, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Kelly Robbins, who lost in the playoff at the U.S. Women's Open earlier this month.
Hilary Lunke, who shocked the golf world with her playoff win at Pumpkin Ridge, carded a 2-over 74 on Wednesday to finish in a logjam tied for 46th 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.