Ochoa Leads Sorenstam Three Back

By Associated PressMarch 18, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Safeway International presented by CokeSUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Lorena Ochoa believes someone needs to step up and challenge Annika Sorenstam.
 
Rather than waiting for Michelle Wie's eagerly anticipated full-time move to the LPGA Tour, the 23-year-old Mexican star took matters into her own hands Friday.
 
Ochoa, the LPGA's rookie of the year two seasons ago, shot a 5-under 67 to open a two-shot lead in the Safeway International, with Sorenstam three strokes behind and the resurgent Wie also in contention.
 
``It's my dream to play with her, beside her, and beat her,'' Ochoa said about competing with Sorenstam, the circuit's player of the year from 2001-04. ``So we'll see. We'll wait for that moment.''
 
Ochoa won twice last year, but couldn't recall leading a professional tournament after two rounds.
 
``At least, (it's) the first time that Annika is in the field when I'm leading, so I'm just excited I have a chance,'' she said.
 
Ochoa was on pace for an even bigger lead until she bogeyed the 14th hole. She birdied the 18th to finish at 12-under 132 halfway through the tour's first 72-hole event of the year.
 
Soo-Yun Kang was second after a 66, and Sorenstam, the defending champion, was 9 under after a 69.
 
Sorenstam, who had the second- and third-round leads on the way to her victory last year, watched the leaderboards all day to keep track of Ochoa.
 
``I saw her at 9 (under), and then all of a sudden I saw her at 12,'' the Swedish champion said. ``I don't know what happened in between, but she's obviously playing some good golf.''
 
Siew-Ai Lim, who shared the first-round lead with Ochoa, was 7 under after a 72, with Grace Park (67) and Karen Stupples (71) 6 under.
 
Candie Kung (70) and Juli Inkster (73) were next at 5-under 139, and Wie followed her opening 73 with a 67 to join Laura Davies (69), Paula Creamer (71), Liselotte Neumann (70) and Laura Diaz (67) at 4 under.
 
The 15-year-old Wie rallied in the second round to run her string of consecutive cuts made to 11. The long-hitting teen, who last missed a cut in August 2003, appeared to be in jeopardy of another early exit when she bogeyed the first hole.
 
But she recovered with an eagle and five birdies to get back in the hunt for her first LPGA title. Wie had her best finish against professional competition three weeks ago with a tie for second in her native Hawaii.
 
``I was shooting to shot, like, a lot under par, because I think the conditions are going to be tough the next few days, hearing the weather forecast,'' Wie said.
 
Sorenstam, the circuit's player of the year from 2001-04, has a three-tournament winning streak, including her season debut in Mexico City, and has won five of the last seven she's entered.
 
But she might have her work cut out against Ochoa, another former University of Arizona player capable of scoring bursts that rival Sorenstam's.
 
Ochoa finished third on the money list last year with $1.45 million, and set tour season records for birdies (442), rounds under par (75) and rounds in the 60s (51).
 
After a tie for 14th in Hawaii, Ochoa was fifth in Mexico City, and came in determined to play well in Arizona, where she also feels at home.
 
She looked the part on the Prospector Course on the flank of the scenic Superstition Mountains, birdieing the second hole and making birdie putts of between 15 and 17 feet on Nos. 7, 8 and 10.
 
Ochoa went to 12 under on the 11th hole, making her fourth birdie in five holes after dropping an 8-iron shot within 8 feet of the cup.
 
At that point, Ochoa was two shots up on Kang, the clubhouse leader, and five ahead of Sorenstam.
 
But the chase tightened when Ochoa knocked a wedge over the green at the 310-yard 14th hole and failed to get up and down.
 
Sorenstam birdied two of the last three holes. Ochoa also got back a stroke at No. 18, reaching the green in two with a 5-wood that set up a two-putt birdie from 20 feet.
 
Kang's short game was exceptional -- the longest of her seven birdie putts was a 6-footer on No. 13.
 
Kang, who won the World Amateur Championship in 1996 and then turned professional, apprenticed on the Futures and Korea LPGA tours until she qualified for the LPGA Tour in 2001.
 
She played in the final group with Sorenstam at a Korean event years ago and won.
 
``So it doesn't affect me and doesn't put any pressure on me,'' Kang said.
 
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”