Ochoa back to defend Wie back in action

By Associated PressOctober 1, 2009, 2:26 am

LPGA Tour _new

PRATTVILLE, Ala. – Lorena Ochoa has made a habit of ending streaks at the Navistar LPGA Classic, whether she wanted to or not.

Ochoa beat Candie Kung with a 2-foot par putt on the second hole of a playoff last year after coming in winless in seven starts. Two years ago, Maria Hjorth kept the Mexican star from a fourth consecutive victory.

Ochoa hopes to snap an 11-tournament winless stretch dating back to the Corona Championship in late April. The $1.3 million Classic begins Thursday on the 6,546-yards, par-72 Senator Course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill in suburban Montgomery.

“I have nothing but good memories,” Ochoa said Wednesday. “I would love to win the tournament. I heard nobody has won the tournament twice, so it would be nice to put my name up there. I feel good playing on this course.”

She came fairly close to winning last week. Ochoa, who had won 21 times from 2006-08, finished four strokes behind winner Sophie Gustafson at the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge in Danville, Calif.

Recent rains have changed the dynamics some in Prattville.

“I think I have a good plan on how to play the course,” Ochoa said. “It’s playing a little bit longer because obviously it’s a little bit wet and the rough is a little bit higher. So I think it should be a little bit different than last year.

“But at the same time, a good challenge. I’m happy to be back, and I’m going to do my best to defend my title. It would be great to win on Sunday.”

Gustafson, No. 3 money winner Cristie Kerr, Hjorth and Michelle Wie are also in the field. It’s a chance for Kerr to make up some ground on Jiyai Shin, who leads her in the Rolex Player of the Year chase.

Wie returns from a short break for the start of classes at Stanford, where’s she’s taking communications and statistics courses.

She has six top-10 finishes in 16 events, including a runner-up at the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay.

“I had a good two weeks off and a good week of school last week,” Wie said. “I’m excited to play again. I felt like I practiced a lot last week and it will be fun to put that into action.”

This is the 19-year-old’s first time playing in the Navistar Classic and her first visit to Alabama. She likes the Southern flavor just fine so far.

“I love the food here, love the music. It’s great,” Wie said. “Every other radio station here plays country music, so I’m pretty happy about that.”

She’d be even happier with her first LPGA victory.

“That’s a goal I can’t really control as much,” Wie said. “More of a personal goal is what I’ve been trying to accomplish all year: Try my hardest and play my hardest and end the week, knowing I’ve done that.”

Getty Images

Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

Getty Images

'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

Getty Images

Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”