Leaders Seeking Breakthrough Victory

By Associated PressMay 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 SemGroup ChampionshipBROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- Lorena Ochoa's charge fizzled Saturday in the second round of the SemGroup Championship.
 
Ochoa got off to an eagle-birdie start, but a double bogey at No. 15 spoiled her round and left the top-ranked Mexican star three strokes behind leaders Stephanie Louden, Nicole Castrale, Karin Sjodin and Reilley Rankin.
 
The four leaders, tied at 4-under 138, are all seeking their first LPGA Tour win.
 
'No matter who is up there, I know that I have played just as well as they have, and I want to win just as much as they do,' said Sjodin, a former Oklahoma State star who leads the tour in driving distance.
 
Rankin shot a 3-under 68, Louden had a 69, Sjodin a 70 and Castrale a 71.
 
'Of course it's better to have those names up there than Annika (Sorenstam) and Lorena,' Sjodin said. 'But I still think if I had played just as well as them so far, I can do it tomorrow as well.'
 
Rankin's 68 matched Mi Hyun Kim and Young Kim for the low round of the day on a windy, but much drier course at Cedar Ridge Country Club. Mi Hyun Kim and Angela Stanford (71) were one stroke behind the leaders. Se Ri Pak (71), Katherine Hull (69) and Virada Nirapathpongporn (70) were tied for seventh, two strokes off the lead.
 
Pak, who has 23 career wins, is the only player among the top nine that has more than one career victory. Stanford is the only other with even one win, and it came at the 2003 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
 
Seven players were three strokes back, including Juli Inkster (70) and Ochoa (71), who took over the No. 1 ranking from Sorenstam last week.
 
Ochoa had birdie putts at the fourth and fifth holes slide just past the right edge of the cup, and her round soon took a turn for the worse. The wind caught her tee shot at No. 6 and dropped it on the far side of the green. She three-putted for bogey to fall to 2 under.
 
Ochoa ripped a drive well beyond 300 yards to straighten out a dogleg right and set up a birdie at the 399-yard par-4 seventh. She had another birdie at No. 10, and bogeys at the eighth and 13th holes before misjudging the wind at the 185-yard 15th.
 
'I hit it the way I wanted to hit it. I hit it so low that the wind didn't even touch the ball. I ended up on the back of the green,' the Mexican star said.
 
'Sometimes it's just a learning experience. It would be different if you miss a shot and end up in the water or hit a tree or something. I hit the perfect shot, but just ended up in a bad spot. I will learn from that and not do it again.'
 
A day earlier, Ochoa said she hoped to perhaps play a low round on Cinco de Mayo 'for my Mexicans.' She wore a light green polo shirt and sweater and white shorts, and she appeared poised to take over the tournament after she reached the green on the 520-yard, par-5 opening hole in two shots. She then knocked down a 30-footer for eagle with her putter featuring a green, white and red grip.
 
She drilled her tee shot within 5 feet on the next hole, then curved in her birdie putt. That ended up being the high point of her day.
 
'Obviously, I'm not very happy with that double bogey on the par 3. It doesn't feel good. The good thing is that I'm only three shots behind the leaders, and I'm feeling good with my game,' Ochoa said. 'I think I hit the ball very solid today, gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities.'
 
To earn her first win as the world No. 1, she'll have to make up ground.
 
Castrale, the first-round leader, holed out a 6-iron for eagle at No. 4 for her second chip-in of the tournament. She pitched in on the third hole Friday.
 
'There are a lot of great players on the leaderboard, whether they've won or not,' said Castrale, who played in college at Southern California.
 
Louden, who birdied the first two holes, held the lead for a time after two more birdies at the ninth and 11th holes got her to 6 under. She had bogeys at Nos. 13 and 16.
 
Rankin was the last of the leaders on the course and had a chance to take the outright lead, but had a long birdie putt skate just right of the hole. Her knees buckled after watching the putt roll past the hole.
 
Still, being atop the leaderboard capped a yearlong struggle to regain her form.
 
'I call it Reilley's world. It doesn't matter how I do it. I just do it,' said Rankin, who's never finished higher than fourth at a tour event. 'And I don't have to know or be able to explain it to somebody.
 
'That's what makes me good is to just play like that. I have to play my way.'
 
Defending champion Cristie Kerr, who set the course record with a 61 in the second round last year, missed the cut after shooting a 77.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - SemGroup Championship
  • Getty Images

    Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

    By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

    Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

    Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

    He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

    "It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

    "I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

    Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

    Getty Images

    Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

    After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

    ''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

    Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

    Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    ''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

    Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    ''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

    Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

    Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

    ''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

    Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

    Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

    Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

    ''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

    Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

    The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

    Getty Images

    Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

    By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

    "It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

    "So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

    "I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

    "So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

    "So I know it's right around the corner."

    Getty Images

    Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

    ''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

    Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

    Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

    Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

    ''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

    He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

    ''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

    Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

    ''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

    Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

    ''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

    Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

    ''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

    He said his game has long been unpredictable.

    ''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''