Wie Starts Strong Trails Hot Ochoa

By Sports NetworkMarch 30, 2006, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Lorena Ochoa set a new course record on Thursday with her 10-under-par 62 on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club.
The 62 was good enough to give Ochoa a four-stroke lead after the opening round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The 62 also ties the lowest score in a major championship. Minea Bloomqvist posted a 62 during the third round of the Women's British Open in 2004 at Sunningdale Golf Club.
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie had six birdies and no bogeys in the first round.
'It was a very special time, but I have three days to go,' noted Ochoa. 'I'm just going to enjoy today and then tomorrow, try to play one day at a time.'
Sixteen-year-old Michelle Wie, who finished second to Annika Sorenstam at the McDonald's LPGA Championship last year, stands alone in second place at 6- under-par 66.
Stacy Prammanasudh bogeyed the 18th hole Thursday to take third at minus-5. Amateur Angela Park is one stroke further back at minus-4.
Sorenstam, the defending champion and a three-time winner here, opened with a 1-under-par 71. She had a birdie and a bogey on the front nine and a bogey and two birdies on the back to share 17th place.
'It was just one of those days,' Sorenstam said. 'I am happy with the way I am playing, I just couldn't get it together today. I'm just glad I made birdie on the last hole. Hopefully I can turn it around.'
Ochoa opened on the back nine Thursday and got off to a fast start. She made a 2-foot birdie putt on 10 and a 4-footer for birdie on 11. After three straight pars, Ochoa nearly holed her 9-iron approach at the 15th, but settled for a kick-in birdie from within a foot.
The Mexican dropped her 7-iron seven feet from the cup on 16 and rolled in that birdie putt to move to minus-4. Ochoa sank a 10-footer for birdie on 18 to turn in 5 under.
Ochoa, who finished third here in 2003, kept rolling on the front nine. She ran in a birdie putt from about 20 feet on the first, and came back with a 10-footer for birdie at the third.
The three-time winner on the LPGA Tour made it two in a row with a chip-in birdie at the fourth. Ochoa knocked her 7-iron within 2 feet for birdie on the seventh. She closed with a birdie putt from just under 15 feet at the ninth to shoot 62.
'I thought to myself, this is a good start to the tournament,' Ochoa said. 'I didn't think it was going to be this good. I just tried to really focus and concentrate. I made birdie on the first hole and a birdie on the second hole. I was very happy about that. Then everything was easy and everything was so clear. It was a really good round.'
Wie dropped in back-to-back birdies from the second. She came back with a birdie at the par-4 seventh. The young Hawaiian moved to 4 under as she birdied No. 10.
She parred her next four holes. Wie birdied 15 and 17 down the stretch to close a bogey-free round at minus-6.
'I'm really glad I played well in the first round. Usually, I have a little bit of trouble starting off real well,' Wie admitted. 'My game was really solid today. There are a couple of things I want to work on later today. So hopefully I will just get better and better every day.'
Juli Inkster, a two-time champion here, opened with a 3-under-par 69. She was joined in fifth place by Seon-Hwa Lee, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and 2004 Women's British Open champ Karen Stupples.
A pair of former champions -- 1993 winner Helen Alfredsson and 2000 titlist Karrie Webb -- are in 10th place at minus-2. They stand alongside Brittany Lang, Shi Hyun Ahn, Johanna Head, Ai Miyazato and Carin Koch.
Related Links:
  • George White's Column on Angela Park
  • Leaderboard - Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Championship
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    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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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.