Ochoa Kerr open strong at US Womens Open

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa. ' Theres no denying this is the biggest week in womens golf ' full of good news and bad.
 
The games top-ranked player, a former champion and a developmental tour qualifier are one stroke behind a talented second-year LPGA player at the U.S. Womens Open, on a course that doesnt yield birdies easily.
 
All the while, controversy is swirling around the womens tour amid reports Thursday that LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens could be out of her job as early as next week after a faction of key players signed a letter calling for her resignation.
 
Cristie Kerr
2007 champion Cristie Kerr is just one off the lead.(Getty Images)
Despite the theatrics, it has the makings of a developing drama on the golf course as well, with the games top players off to hot starts and a 14-year-old amateur trying to make her first cut in her third Open.
 
Leader Na Yeon Choi birdied her first three holes, and four of her first five, making the tough Saucon Valley Country Club course look tame with an opening round 3-under 68.
 
I know its a difficult course, but I was really excited to start my round and I thought it was going to be a very, very interesting week for me, the South Korean said through an interpreter.
 
It could get quite interesting considering the players chasing the 21-year-old.
 
No. 1-ranked Lorena Ochoa, 2007 champion Cristie Kerr and qualifier Jean Reynolds opened with 2-under 69s, and Hee Young Park, also of South Korea, was another stroke back after a 70.
 
Patience is the No. 1 thing you have to have this week, Ochoa said.
 
But major news about the LPGA and its players keeps intruding on the championship.
 
Just as Choi was completing her round, Golf Digest and Golfweek Magazine, citing sources, reported on their Web sites that Bivens four-year tenure with the tour is coming to an end.
 
The move comes after a call for her resignation by key players, who wrote to the LPGA board asking Bivens to step down.
 
Easily overlooked in the fallout of the LPGA brouhaha were solid rounds by Choi, the runner-up for rookie of the year in 2008, Ochoa, who is seeking her first Womens Open title, and Kerr, aiming for her second championship crown.
 
Birdies were tough to come by for nearly everyone but Choi, who has won four times in international events.
 
Playing in her second Open, she made Saucon Valleys narrow fairways seem wide and handled its speedy, undulating greens. Choi relied on accurate approach shots throughout and reached 5-under by her 12th hole, before backing up just a bit. Starting on the back nine, she had consecutive bogeys on the 409-yard, par-4 fifth, and 559-yard, par-5 sixth before closing with three pars.
 
I think being here for the second time, being on the Tour for two years now, I think I find it much more comfortable, Choi said. I now understand better about the magnitude of this U.S. Womens Open, and to be honest, I think Im much more comfortable playing on this tour and these golf courses than I do in Korea, so, you know, everything is good for me.
 
Ochoa started early Thursday on the back nine and offset two bogeys with two birdies on her first nine and then moved below par with consecutive birdies at Nos. 2 and 3.
 
The Mexican star seeking her first Womens Open was happy to take advantage of her early tee time. Her previous best start in an opening round was a ninth in 2003.
 
Its always hard, you have to be 100 percent at 7:30 in the morning, she said. Im just glad I beat it today, and will try to do the same tomorrow.
 
On the par-4 second hole, Ochoa rolled in one of the longest putts of her career ' a 50-footer that moved right, left, up and down before falling for a 3.
 
Kerr hit 15 greens and 10 fairways in a round of three birdies and a bogey, using her knowledge and confidence of being a former Womens Open champion on the challenging Old Course. She drained birdie putts of 15, 12 and 8 feet and shrugged off her only bogey.
 
Im an Open champion, I know what to expect, Kerr said. You have to take what the course gives you at a U.S. Open. You try and be aggressive when you can and most of the time you cant be.
 
Reynolds, a two-time winner on the Futures Tour and the leading money winner on the LPGAs developmental tour, had four birdies and two bogeys. She had a chance to take sole possession of the lead, but missed a birdie putt at the 18th.
 
Shes enjoying the ride.
 
I was pretty nervous, Reynolds said. It was a good feeling, but then again, coming in under the radar and leading at the U.S. Open after the first round is pretty awesome.
 
Reynolds opened with a birdie at the first and made a strong par save at the second hole after driving into a fairway bunker. She hit a 7-wood to about 45 yards and got up-and-down.
 
She used pinpoint accuracy with her approach shots to move into contention, hitting to within a foot at the first, 3 feet at the eighth and 8 feet on the 14th. She also got up-and-down from a greenside bunker at No. 12.
 
Alexis Thompson is the low amateur after a first-round 71, her finest showing in the first round after missing the cut the last two years. The 14-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., is the reigning U.S. Girls Junior champ. In 2007, she was the youngest Womens Open qualifier in history at age 12.
 
Thompson is tied with LPGA Championship winner Anna Nordqvist, Candie King, Eun Hee Ji, Kristy McPherson and Young Kim.
 
Former champion Laura Davies, who received a special exemption that extended her streak of competing in championships to 24, opened with a 1-over 72, as did 14 others, including Paula Creamer, Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and three amateurs.
 
Defending champion Inbee Park opened with a 4-over 75, and two-time champion Juli Inkster made her 30th straight Open start and shot a 7-over 78.
 
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    NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 11:00 am

    The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

    After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

    Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

    Scoring:

    TV Times (all times ET):

    Wednesday
    4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)

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    Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title

    By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2018, 2:00 am

    STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.

    Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?

    The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.

    “Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.

    Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.

    “I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”

    Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.


    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


    Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.

    “They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”

    After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.

    And the Wildcats better rest up.

    Alabama looks unstoppable.

    “They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”

    Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.

    After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.

    They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.

    Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.

    “It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”

    They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.

    “We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”

    That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.

    The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.

    “They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.

    It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”

    Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.

    They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.

    Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.

    “I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”

    Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.

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    Pairings, tee times set for championship match

    By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 1:02 am

    STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

    Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.

    “We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”

    Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.

    Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.

    Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.

    “Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.


    Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)

    3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)

    3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)

    3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)

    3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)

    4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)

    Getty Images

    Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama

    By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 11:49 pm

    STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.

    Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.

    Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.


    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


    Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.

    Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.

    Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.

    “I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.

    Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”