LPGA Looking for Big Finish to 2006

By Associated PressNovember 14, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Already with the LPGA player of the year award and six tournament victories, there's only one thing left for Lorena Ochoa to pursue this season.
 
A really, really big check.

The richest prize in women's golf -- $1 million -- awaits the winner of this week's season-ending ADT Championship, the finale of the inaugural LPGA Playoffs. A 32-woman field will be pared to eight by Sunday, when those survivors start anew and play 18 holes for the biggest payout in tour history.
 
Ochoa -- who turns 25 Wednesday -- is clearly relaxed these days, knowing that her primary goal for the year is already accomplished. Still, she's postponed the celebratory party until after the ADT is over, saying she wants nothing to distract from her pursuit of one more victory.
 
'I knew it would be a tough thing to do,' said Ochoa, who has won her last three starts to push her earnings to nearly $2.5 million for the season. 'I was just really happy that it happened last week.'
 
Ochoa is one of four players who still have a chance at the season money title, with Karrie Webb and two-time defending ADT champion Annika Sorenstam also assured of finishing the year atop that list by winning this week. Cristie Kerr could also take the money crown if she finishes first and Ochoa doesn't finish second.
 
While Ochoa says she likes the unique ADT format, she -- along with some other players -- doesn't like that the result here could easily skew the season's final money list. The entire $1 million first prize will count as official money, and Ochoa calls that 'a little unfair.'
 
'You can get a second place this week and your money title is gone,' said Ochoa, the first player since 1996 other than Sorenstam and Webb to win player of the year. 'That's the only thing I don't agree with. ... But if I need to win this week to win that title, too, I'm going to try hard to do it.'
 
Second place is worth $100,000, so it's conceivable that someone could stand over a putt on the 72nd hole with $900,000 at stake.
 
Under the tournament format, every golfer will play Thursday and Friday, when the first cut will trim the field to 16 players. A sudden-death playoff will follow Friday's second round in case of ties.
 
On Saturday, those 16 continue play, with that round followed by a second cut to get down to eight. From there, all the scores from the first three rounds are erased, and four twosomes will tee off Sunday morning.
 
The 2006 season was split into halves, with players earning points toward making the ADT Championship. Fifteen players from each half of the season and two wild cards got spots in the field.
 
'I'm not necessarily thrilled with how players qualified into the tournament,' Webb said. 'I don't think we have the best 32 players here, the best 32 players over the course of the year. But the format is something different and it's created a lot of interest.'
 
The odds suggest that whoever prevails at Trump International Golf Club will more than double her earnings for the season.
 
Only 10 women on tour have cracked the $1 million mark in 2006, a year where the average winner's check from the season's first 32 tournaments was $237,240.
 
'You could be a player that hasn't won all year and all of a sudden, you win a million and can be right up there,' Sorenstam said. 'So you know, it makes for a big change. It is obviously going to be very exciting for everyone. ... And I think everybody is going to ask the question, is that the way it should be?'
 
The winner's check is enormous, but the rest of the payouts are rather ordinary for tour golf. Third place is worth $20,500 and payouts dwindle a bit each rung from there, to $16,250 for eighth, $14,000 to those getting cut after Saturday and $8,000 for those gone after the first two rounds.
 
So, even though everyone will leave with at least a little something, this setup has a winner-take-all feel.
 
'It's going to be exciting,' Ochoa said.
 
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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”