Can Lorena Come Back

By Associated PressMay 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 SemGroup ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Lorena Ochoa felt helpless as too many shots ballooned into relentless gusts that reached 36 mph Thursday, sending her to only her second round over par this year.
 
Stranger still was listening to her describe a 2-over 73 at the SemGroup Championship.
 
I managed to finish with a good score, she said.
 
On a wind-blown day that yielded only four rounds under par, Ochoa took some measure of satisfaction by not letting the leaders get too far away in her quest for a record-tying fifth consecutive victory on the LPGA Tour.
 
Hee Young Park held it together in Oklahomas notorious wind with a 2-under 69 on a tough day for everyone at Cedar Ridge.
 
Two other subpar rounds came from Ochoas group'Paula Creamer and defending champion Mi Hyun Kim, each with 70 in rounds that looked nothing alike. One of the shorter hitters on tour, Kim hit 23 metal clubs, almost as often as she used her putter (30).
 
Ji Young Oh also had a 70, the only subpar round from the morning batch, when the wind was just as strong.
 
Ochoa couldnt join them.
 
On a day that Time magazine listed her as one of the 100 influential people in the world, Ochoa had no influence on the wind. And it didnt help that her hands were too quick, sending her shots high into the air where the gusts knocked her ball every which way.
 
With a sand wedge, she went 80 feet over the flag and over the green. A tee shot drifted well left of a par 3 and down the slope. A drive went so far left that she was nearly in the next fairway.
 
Ochoa atoned for those mistakes with a 5-wood from 223 yards to 2 feet for eagle on her 10th hole, the par-5 first, and this was one day she had few complaints about a round over par.
 
Im OK, she said. Im not too far from the leaders.
 
Indeed, she was only four shots behind. The only tournament she failed to win this year, the MasterCard Classic in Mexico, Ochoa opened with a 76 and tied for seventh. But she was nine shots behind after the first round, and that tournament was only 54 holes.
 
Its just a start, she said. We have three days to go.
 
And the 26-year-old Mexican was satisfied walking off her final hole with a par, looking up at a leaderboard that still included her name, even if she had to wait for the screen to scroll down a few pages.
 
I think I was tied for 15th. Thats fine, she said. Now its time to catch up.
 
Lost in the hoopla of Ochoa trying to join Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam with five straight victories was an even-par 70 by Vicky Hurst, the 17-year-old from Melbourne, Fla., who last week won on the Duramed Futures Tour.
 
Hurst, who received a sponsors exemption, made five birdies against five bogeys, with a caddie she hired only Thursday morning, sparing her mother from having to lug around her clubs.
 
Ill take that every day, said Hurst, who graduates high school in two weeks.
 
The group at 1-over 72 included U.S. Womens Open champion Cristie Kerr, despite three bogeys over the final five holes, and seven-time major champion Juli Inkster, the runner-up last year at Cedar Ridge.
 
Beth Bader was tied for the lead until closing with three straight bogeys for a 72.
 
Those scores felt much lower on such a blustery day, with flags crackling in the wind before sunrise, relentless throughout the day. The scoring average was 76.8, compared with 73.5 a year ago when 21 players broke par in the first round.
 
This is the eighth year of the LPGA Tour event in Tulsa, and along with the PGA Championship last year and the 2001 U.S. Open, tournaments have managed to escape the wind so infamous in these parts.
 
But there was no hiding Thursday, and there is not expected to be much relief the rest of the way.
 
Twenty-nine players failed to break 80, a list that included Morgan Pressel (80) and Louise Friberg (81), the only other player this year to win a tournament Ochoa entered.
 
You cant quit, Creamer said. You have to be out there, mentally prepared, and be able to hit all kinds of golf shots.
 
Creamer did just that on the par-3 sixth, with a 7-iron that stopped 6 feet behind the hole for a birdie that momentarily tied her for the lead. She did not recall the yardage, and it really didnt matter. It was a feel shot, and it was that kind of day for everyone.
 
Creamer finished with consecutive bogeys, a three-putt from 80 feet and a tough chip with her feet in the bunker, and ball at her knees. It was a bitter way to end the round, but she knew it could have been worse. Creamer made three putts from outside 10 feet on her front nine, two for par and one for bogey.
 
Going out there, I said if I shot even par I would be in a good spot, she said. And I finished 1 under.
 
That put her one off the lead, and three shots ahead of Ochoa, who didnt seem the least bit bothered. Ochoa was quick with her hands, making it difficult to control her trajectory, and thats never good in these conditions.
 
Im going to work on that, she said. I should be in good shape tomorrow. Being three or four shots out of the lead, youre in good shape. This is an up-and-down week, a lot of movement (on the leaderboard). Im plus 2, and I still have three more rounds to go.
 
Divots:
Stacy Prammansudh had to withdraw with the flu, a big blow to an LPGA Tour winner who went to college at Tulsa and lives in Broken Arrow. Ochoa has failed to break par her last three rounds at Cedar Ridge.
 
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    Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

    Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

    Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

    “I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

    Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

    The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

    “If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”

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    Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:50 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.

    Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.

    Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):

    7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger

    Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson

    Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.


    12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox

    This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.


    1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

    This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.

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    Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

    There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $7 million

    Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)

    Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.


    Notables in the field

    Jordan Spieth

    • Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week

    • 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)

    • Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)


    Brooks Koepka

    • Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)

    • First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)

    • First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)


    Justin Thomas

    • Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)

    • Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)


    Rory McIlroy

    • Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)

    • Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)


    Jason Day

    • Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)

    • Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season


    Patrick Reed

    • Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018

    • Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)

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    Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:16 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.

    The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.

    Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.

    “It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

    “It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”

    USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.

    Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.

    “It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”