Majors a Major Dilemma for Lorena

By Associated PressApril 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- The comparisons between Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa are inevitable, and mostly accurate.
Woods gave the PGA TOUR a two-week head start in Hawaii, made his debut at the Buick Invitational and won by eight shots. Ochoa also skipped the first two LPGA Tour events in Hawaii, started in Singapore at the HSBC Champions and won by 11.
Woods has won 18 times on the PGA TOUR since the start of the 2006 season. Ochoa has 16 victories. They are No. 1 in their respective world ranking by more than double the margin of No. 2.
And over the next two weeks, both are overwhelming favorites to win the first major championship of the year.
But thats where the parallel paths come to a fork in the road.
Woods has four green jackets from the Masters, not to mention a career full of positive vibes at the majors. He captured the career Grand Slam at age 24, before he had completed four years on the PGA TOUR.
Despite her dominance, Ochoa arrived at the Kraft Nabisco Championship to face some demons.
She loves Mission Hills, where she first played as a teenager. The affection she gets in the California desert rivals that of her native Mexico, with someone waving a red, white and green flag on just about every fairway. Ochoa sheepishly mentioned that she asked tournament officials for 100 tickets for her family and friends, and she was willing to pay for them.
I have great memories, and I have a lot of support from people that comes from Mexico and cheer for me, Ochoa said Tuesday. Its just someplace that feels good. Im ready to have a good week. Ive been close a few times, and hopefully, this is the year.
She is being modest about close calls.
Ochoa should have won this major by now.
Two years ago, she tied an LPGA major record with a 10-under 62 in the opening round and still had a three-shot lead going into Sunday until a meltdown on the back nine. Ochoa recovered with an eagle on the final hole to get into a playoff against Karrie Webb, who won on the first extra hole.
Ochoa was tied for the lead going into the weekend last year and looked poised as ever until she missed the par-3 17th green, whiffed on a wedge, took three putts once she got on the green and took quadruple bogey that effectively knocked her out of the tournament.
Moments like that are what makes winning even harder.
The Kraft Nabisco is the only LPGA major that has been played on the same course every year, which makes it similar to the Masters in that respect'and only that respect. Augusta National does not have a Wienermobile next to the practice green.
Geoff Ogilvy spoke recently about why the Masters has such a long list of players who never won a green jacket, and he mentioned the familiarity of the course breeding so much contempt.
There are demons that dont go away, Ogilvy said. If you have a few close calls at the U.S. Open, youre always doing it somewhere else. If you have demons at Augusta, which everybody does, guys always remember.
Great as she is, Ochoas biggest challenge will be to bury those memories.
I already erased them, she insisted. I only feel good things about this course, and good vibes and good memories. Of course, youre going to make mistakes and have a few bad holes, like what happened on 17 last year. I struggled on holes 13, 14 and 15. They were holes that I played over par, and Im going to work on those this year and make sure I play that stretch in a positive way.
And I think that will really help get a good result on Sunday.
What might help this year is no longer having to answer questions about winning a major. Even after she replaced Annika Sorenstam at No. 1 in the world at the end of the 2006 season, Ochoa had a reputation of being unable to win the big one.
There was the U.S. Womens Open at Cherry Hills in 2005, when she duck-hooked a tee shot into the water on No. 18 and made 8. The two failures at Mission Hills. Last year at Pine Needles, she again was poised to win the U.S. Womens Open until she couldnt find a fairway over the final five holes.
But she has been a different player since capturing her first major in the Womens British Open at St. Andrews, an historic afternoon in so many ways. That was the start of a stretch in which Ochoa has won seven times in 12 starts, a winning percentage that rivals Woods.
Comparing mens and womens golf is about as practical as comparing generations, but there are similarities worth noting.
Woods can finish a brilliant season and spend the next few months figuring out a way to get better. Ochoa worked harder than ever during her long offseason, especially on her putting. And she is much longer off the tee, even reaching the 310-yard 14th hole Sunday at the Safeway International, which she won by seven shots.
Youre never there, Woods often says.
And when Ochoa was asked where she could improve, she mentioned everything from learning to rest to communicating with her caddie. She finished at 22-under par last week at Superstition Mountain and was irritated by three or four dumb bogeys.
But she was stumped when asked what Woods had that she wanted, besides power off the tee and a $100 million annual income.
I think we all want to know what he has inside his head, she said. It would be hard to find. But Im happy for what I have.
What she could use are a few more majors.
Particularly this one.
Related Links:
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    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the early 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots out of the lead among those who played Friday morning. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, might have a long stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and was outside the cut. He was in jeopardy of missing his second straight cut, depending on afternoon scoring.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

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    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.

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    Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

    By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

    Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

    Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

    As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

    • “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

    • "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

    • "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

    • “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

    So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

    Getty Images

    Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

    RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

    Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

    The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.

    Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

    Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

    Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.