Notes Webb Browsing Ochoa Learning


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Not a bad year. Karrie Webb won five times in 2006 and is the defending champion here this week at the Kraft Nabisco. Yet most of the attention last year in womens golf focused on the ascendancy of Lorena Ochoa (Player of the Year).
I changed my swing, probably two and a half years ago, Webb said. And I think its still a work in progress for me. The only difference is I have a little bit more of an understanding of the swing that I have now.
And she has more confidence. Which, by the way, is what she sees in Ochoa, who fired a 62 in the first round here last year but couldnt hold on through Sunday.
I think she learned a lot from this tournament last year, Webb said. Because later in the year she had a couple of tournaments where she had leads and won. And then at Samsung she beat Annika down the stretch.
At the Samsung World Championship last October at nearby Bighorn Golf Club, Ochoa fired a final-round 65 to Sorenstams 70 to beat Annika by two.
It (Kraft Nabisco last year) was her (Ochoas) tournament to win and she didnt get the job done, Webb said. But, she added, I think those experiences after this experience really gave her the confidence to really continue playing as well as she did last year this year.
That confidence spilled over in to a victory last week at the Safeway International in Arizona where Ochoa birdied four of the last five holes to win at an event where, two years earlier, she had squandered a four-shot lead with three to play before losing to Sorenstam in a playoff.
What happened last year at Kraft Nabisco? Ochoa insists it was the third round when she threw away several shots needlessly en route to a 74.
Especially on the back nine, she said. I gave away two or three shots that I should have just kind of, like, gotten it done to make sure I had a good lead for Sunday.
A lot of people have forgotten that Ochoa birdied 16 on Sunday and eagled the par-5 18th to get into the playoff with Webb that she would eventually lose.
I was really proud of myself, Ochoa said. I wont forget the way I finished. Those are things I will never change.
Webb was asked how the men would react to having to play Pro-Ams the week of a major championship. I dont think theyd stand for it, she said.
The women in the field here are required to play in Pro-Ams on Tuesday and Wednesday of tournament week. One of those Pro-Ams takes place on a course other than the Mission Hills course on which the championship will take place.
Ochoa, on the other hand, said she had a blast in her Tuesday Pro-Am, mainly because one of her amateur partners was comedian George Lopez.
I get all of the jokes because they are half and half, English and Spanish, Ochoa said. Im lucky to understand both. He was very funny.
Ochoa has developed a reputation for having an unfailingly sweet disposition and the best part about it is that it comes across as being genuinely natural as opposed to syrupy.
When I asked her if she ever gets mad, she said, Oh, yes.
On and off the course?
Both, she said.
I asked her if she was aware of the rule Butch Harmon used to have with Tiger Woods: If Tiger hit a bad shot, he was allowed to be angry for 10 yards. Then he had to put it behind immediately.
You have to get it out, Ochoa said. I agree with that.
Then, after a pause, she added with a smile, Sometimes it takes me more than 10 yards.
The marquee pairing for Thursday and Friday are Webb and Ochoa together Thursday at 11:50 a.m. local time and Friday at 8:48, and Sorenstam and Paula Creamer together at 8:48 Thursday and 11:50 Friday.
The strangest tee time is the 1:29 p.m. Thursday pairing off the 10th tee for Morgan Pressel and Veronica Zorzi. Its the last tee time of the day off No. 10. And its hard to imagine Pressel, the 17th ranked woman in the world, being happy about it.
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