Ochoa in the Mix Early at Kraft Nabisco - COPIED

By Associated PressApril 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Lorena Ochoa figured anything around par is good enough at a major. It took four straight birdies to get into the mix Thursday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
Starting with a sand wedge to 2 feet on the 18th hole that she called her best of the day, Ochoa zoomed up the leaderboard with a string of birdies around the turn and settled for an opening round of 4-under 68, leaving her one shot behind Karen Stupples.
 
It was important to get a couple of birdies early in the round and get some momentum, Ochoa said.
 
Ochoa is trying to become the first woman since Annika Sorenstam in 2005 to win consecutive majors, having won her first last summer at St. Andrews in the Womens British Open. And while a three-putt bogey from the fringe and over severe humps on the par-3 eighth kept her from a share of the lead, Ochoa showed why she is such an overwhelming favorite.
 
Playing with defending champion Morgan Pressel, she powered one tee shot after another down the middle of the fairway, well past trouble and usually 40 yards by Pressel. It finally paid off with the four straight birdies, three from inside 6 feet.
 
Stupples, who won the Womens British Open in 2004 and is getting back into the swing after giving birth to her first child last year, was the first to play and made it around Mission Hills without a bogey for 67.
 
Ai Miyazato of Japan birdied her last hole for a 68 to join Ochoa. Natalie Gulbis was among those at 69, while UCLA freshman Maria Jose Uribe was the low amateur and in a group at 70 that included Liselotte Neumann.
 
Annika Sorenstam tried to stay with the leaders, but she failed to take advantage of the par 5s and had to settle for a 71. It was her 15th consecutive round under par this year, but left her trailing Ochoa, the games most dynamic player.
 
Its a long way to go, Sorenstam said. You just have to go out and battle it day by day, stroke by stroke, and take it as it comes.
 
Laura Davies lost her battle on one hole.
 
Needing only this major to complete the career Grand Slam and qualify for the World Golf Hall of Fame, the big hitter from England took a 10 on the 18th hole as she was making the turn.
 
Davies hit her third shot into the water. After taking a penalty drop and hitting her fifth over the green, she chipped through the green and back into the water. Her eighth shot spun back off the green and nearly into the water, and she got up-and-down to spare herself an even higher number. Davies wound up with a 76.
 
I walk off with a 10 and the tournament is over for me, she said. Its sickening.
 
Under bright sunshine and a strong wind that was still manageable, Stupples found her confidence early by finding the fairways, and saving par the one time she strayed. She picked up easy birdies on two of the par 5s, then capped off her round with a 6-iron on the par-3 17th to within 6 feet.
 
It was a good sign that her strength is back nearly a year after her son, Logan, was born.
 
Up until about a month ago, I hadnt really regained my full strength, she said. All of a sudden, it came back almost overnight. And that was really good to see, that I was able to get through the ball.
 
No one is getting through the ball quite like Ochoa.
 
She worked hard on her putting during the offseason, but the biggest change appears to be her distance. Ochoa has tremendous speed, especially with her hips and wrists, and she powered her driver throughout the round. The trick was getting the big drives to pay off it birdies, and her burst began with a sand wedge from 70 yards.
 
It was downwind, and I managed to control it, and it rolled back and I made birdie, Ochoa said. And with the gallery, that always feels good.
 
Even more inspiring was a poster attached to the back of the grandstand on the first tee that said: Mission Hills Golf Course Staff Supports Lorena.
 
It was signed by the maintenance crew at Mission Hills, nearly all of them Mexican. Ochoa saw it from the putting green, and it wasnt the first time. She visited the Mexican crew, as she often does as tournaments in California and Arizona, on Wednesday and they presented her with the poster.
 
Pressels streak without a bogey at Mission Hills ended at 27 holes when she failed to save par from behind the 13th green, her fourth of the day. She did well to post a 71, but was equally frustrated at only hitting five greens in regulation.
 
I know how to play'fairways and greens, Pressel said. I just didnt hit the green today. But you look back at the end of the day, and its still a major championship. And Im right in there.
 
So was Sorenstam, only four out of the lead, and even Ochoa would concede that. She was asked if she stills looks to see where Sorenstam is on the leaderboard, even though Ochoa is the name most feared these days.
 
All the time, Ochoa said. She is a player to watch. She is so good and so consistent and she likes to win. That always keeps me alert and motivated and know where I stand.
 
Divots
 
University of Kentucky junior Mallory Blackwelder shot a 71. Her mother, Myra, recently became the Wildcats womens golf coach. Her father, Worth, is the caddie for Juli Inkster. Dorothy Delasin was disqualified for taking an incorrect penalty drop on the 18th hole, which could not be rectified after she teed off on the next hole. Nicole Perot was not allowed to play for missing her pro-am on Wednesday. There are two pro-ams at the LPGAs first major.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

    But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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    How The Open cut line is determined

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

    Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

    The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    • After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

    • There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

    • There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

    The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.