Ochoa Kerr Suddenly in the Mix

By Associated PressJune 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- First came two blasts of the horn, the end of a 12-hour day at Pine Needles. Then came a crack of thunder as skies darkened. Lorena Ochoa's work was done Saturday in the U.S. Women's Open, and she had reason to be satisfied.
 
Ochoa played the final 22 holes of her 29-hole marathon in 7 under par, leaving her one shot behind Ji-Yai Shin in the middle of the third round, another great chance to validate her status as the No. 1 player in women's golf.
 
She hated to stop playing. She can't wait to return for 25 holes on Sunday.
 
'I feel prepared to win a major,' Ochoa said. 'Tomorrow is going to be a special day.'
 
Saturday was simply a long one.
 
The second round did not end until about 3 p.m. The leaders only made it through 10 holes of the third round. But a tournament that had been a series of starts and stops because of stormy weather finally began to take shape.
 
In the lead was Shin, a 19-year-old from South Korea playing her first U.S. Women's Open, who has overcome far more than anything Pine Needles has to offer. Her mother was killed in a car accident taking her to an amateur tournament, and Shin needed time to recover from injuries and find desire to keep playing.
 
She birdied the final hole she played, the par-5 10th, to put her at 5 under for the tournament.
 
Joining Ochoa at 4 under was Cristie Kerr, a 29-year-old American who often gets overlooked in the hype of younger stars. She had time to fix her swing between the second and third rounds, and ran off five birdies in an eight-hole stretch that put her 5 under for her round, one out of the lead in her quest for a first major.
 
Angela Park, the 36-hole leader after shooting 69 in the morning, would love nothing more than to make it a South American sweep of the U.S. Open golf tournaments. She was born in Brazil, and figures her name is close is enough to Angel Cabrera that it would make sense for the 18-year-old to capture a major.
 
Morgan Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco three months ago at age 18 to become the youngest LPGA major champion in history, overcame some tentative putting to make two birdies over her final four holes and was at 3 under par.
 
'I haven't shot myself out of anything,' Pressel said.
 
It set the stage for what could be a dynamic Sunday, especially with sunshine in the forecast.
 
'We still have a lot of holes left, but I like where I am right now,' Ochoa said.
 
It was another early exit for Michelle Wie, overtime for everyone else.
 
Wie walked off the course halfway through her second round, saying her left wrist was sore when she woke up and got even worse when she tried to play. She shot 42 on the back nine and was headed for another round in the 80s when she withdrew, and her future was never more clouded.
 
'There's good days and bad days,' she said. 'And obviously, today was not a good day. I just have to re-evaluate, make some smart choices and see how it works out.'
 
Pine Needles was cloudy, too, but the tournament caught a huge break when the nasty weather stayed away from the 7:30 a.m. resumption of the second round until it was too dark to matter.
 
But there was enough light for Ochoa's wish to come true.
 
'I think that I'm close enough,' Ochoa said after rallying in the second round for a second straight 71, leaving her five shots behind Park after 36 holes. 'Hopefully, my name means something on the leaderboard, and I'm ready to play a good round.'
 
Turns out the 25-year-old Mexican star was ready.
 
Her eagle putt from just short of the first green lipped out, giving her an easy birdie. She poured in a 10-foot birdie on the par-3 third, and gave herself plenty of chances for more birdies, not missing a fairway on the front nine.
 
In the twilight of the sand hills, several Mexicans from the Pine Needles grounds crew added to her gallery, carrying her along.
 
'Vamos Lorena!' they cried.
 
She delivered with a 7-foot birdie on the ninth, and a 20-foot birdie on the 10th to pull into a share of the lead. Ochoa was in the 12th fairway when she chose not to finish the hole.
 
Shin was at 3-under 139, along with Amy Hung (69) and Julieta Granada (69) after the second round was completed.
 
Shin missed a 4-foot eagle attempt on the first hole, ran off a string of pars then took advantage of the tees being moved forward on the par-5 10th for a birdie that gave her the lead.
 
Kerr had one big par save in the middle of her birdie run, leaving her in good shape to finally get some attention.
 
For all the talk about American youth, she gets forgotten in a world of Pressel, Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome. Kerr was among the pioneers who turned pro out of high school 11 years ago, and the 29-year-old from Miami already has compiled nine victories.
 
This might be her best shot at a major.
 
'It's been a very long day of golf, and I'm looking forward to the rest tonight and just doing the best I can, and honestly I'm not going to put any pressure on myself,' Kerr said.
 
She was more thrilled to get her swing sorted out than posting a string of birdies, figuring the score will take care of itself.
 
Pressel got off to a rugged start, failing to birdie the easy first hole, three-putted for bogey on the second and missing a short birdie attempt on her next hole. But she got on track with a birdie on the sixth, and was 2 under for her round through 11 holes.
 
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam remained nine shots behind with six holes remaining in her third round. She traded birdies and bogeys, and didn't look like she was ready to make any kind of charge required to get into contention.
 
Related Links:
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    Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

    YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

    “I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

    Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

    At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

    On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

    Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

    It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

    The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

    After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

    Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

    The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

    Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

    “We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

    A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

    Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

    “We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

    She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

    Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

    “There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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    Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

    Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

    If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

    Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

    While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

    There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

    “I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

    And there’s your hope.

    Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

    They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

    And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

    The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

    The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

    Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 



    All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

    That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

    Whan says that’s a good thing.

    “The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

    Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

    The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

    “The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

    U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

    “I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

    With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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    Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

    With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

    According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

    While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

    According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

    In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

    The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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    Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

    Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

    It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

    With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

    “To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

    It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

    Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

    Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

    Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

    In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

    Just wait until her putter heats up.

    Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

    On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

    Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.