Ochoa Primed for Womens Open

By Associated PressJune 24, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- Lorena Ochoa can make it look so easy.
She already has done more in five months than most players accomplish in five years. In just 11 tournaments, Ochoa already has captured a major championship among her six victories. She has finished out of the top 10 only once, and she set an LPGA Tour record as the fastest to earn $2 million.
But rarely has a year been so difficult on the 26-year-old from Mexico.
Coming off her sixth victory, she withdrew from the Ginn Tribute when her uncle died in Mexico. She returned to the McDonalds LPGA Championship to continue her pursuit of a Grand Slam, and learned only after she finished one shot out of a playoff that her maternal grandfather had passed away.
He had been ill for some time, but Ochoa figured she would only be gone a week, plenty of time to see him again. It was at his house in Guadalajara that the family gathered to watch Ochoa dominate womens golf.
I never really said goodbye so that was tough, she said Tuesday. He was my joy and motivation.
Her eyes glistened with tears as she spoke, and Ochoa began blinking to steady her emotions.
She is longer than ever off the tee, and while her putting cost her last week in Rochester, N.Y., and at the LPGA Championship, she continues to work on her short game. Ochoa is much like Tiger Woods in that she is never satisfied with how well she is playing.
The hardest part now is blocking out everything around her.
The last few weeks have been rough for me, she said. I play for a week, and I didnt play. Its been on and off, and I feel that its important for me to get a rhythm, get my concentration on the golf course, and Ill be ready to play. This is a great situation to be here in the Womens U.S. Open.
Im 100 percent, and I really want to give myself a chance to win the tournament Sunday.
This might be the toughest test she faces all year.
The U.S. Womens Open begins Thursday at Interlachen, a course in the suburbs of Minneapolis that has been around for nearly 100 years and is famous for Bobby Jones winning the U.S. Open in 1930 on his way to the Grand Slam.
The greens are tiny and severe, most of them elevated with such sharp contours that even from 10 feet, two putting is a feat.
It is the final U.S. Womens Open for Annika Sorenstam, who is retiring at the end of this year and pouring everything into a major that is the biggest prize in her sport. The defending champion is Cristie Kerr, who feels just as strongly about Interlachen as she did about Pine Needles, where she held off Ochoa on the back nine last year.
For Ochoa, this major doesnt hold the fondest of memories.
She was poised to win her first major last year until she couldnt find a fairway over the final six holes and watched Kerr win. Three years ago at Cherry Hills, she wasted a terrific charge in a demanding final round by duck-hooking her tee shot on the 18th hole into the water and making a quadruple-bogey 8, finishing four shots behind.
But just like the tragedies in her personal life, Ochoa blocks all that out.
She was asked whether Cherry Hills or Pine Needles made her more frustrated, and before she could translate the question in her mind, she already was shaking her head.
Im fine, she said. Both really hurt me at the moment, at the time. Cherry Hills, I was too young. It was not meant to be. And my life would be different today if I won the U.S. Open. So I understand the reasons why I didnt win. I dont think I was ready to control all the things that happen when you win a major.
And Im thankful what I learned from the experience.
Ochoa overcame a collapse against Sorenstam outside Phoenix to win an important duel with her in the California desert a year later, propelling her to No. 1 in the world. She took a quadruple bogey at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2007 that took her out of the tournament, then returned a year later to win.
Everything is geared toward the next tournament, not the last one.
I think Im just not too hard on me, she said. I think there are many players, they just regret and are mad and one week and two weeks and three weeks and they get back to a tournament and they cannot do it, they cannot get over it. Its not worth it to just let that stick on you, have that in your head and back and forth. Im just good at that. It makes everything easier.
Its been a process, just like everything else.
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    Watch: Strong start, rough finish for Koepka

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 4:45 pm

    U.S. Open hangover? Not for Brooks Koepka. The two-time national champion has carried over his form and confidence from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands.

    Koepka began his round with a par at the par-4 10th and then reeled off four consecutive birdies, beginning at No. 11.

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    Koepka turned in 4-under 31. Here's more action from his opening nine holes.

    After a par at the first, Koepka added a fifth birdie of the day at the par-4 second.

    A bogey at the par-4 fourth dropped him to 4 under, but just one off the lead. That, however, sparked a wild ride to the finish line as he also bogeyed Nos. 5, 7 and 9, and birdied the sixth. It totaled to a second-nine, 2-over 37 and an overall score of 2-under 68.

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    Lyle going through 'scary' period in cancer recovery

    By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:58 pm

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Jarrod Lyle's wife says the Australian golfer is struggling through a ''really scary'' period in his third battle with cancer.

    Lyle, 36, underwent a bone marrow transplant last December following a recurrence of acute myeloid leukemia.

    ''It's been 190 days since Jarrod's stem-cell transplant and we are going through a really rough patch at the moment,'' Briony Lyle wrote on jarrodlylegolf.com. ''I'm typing this blog on his behalf because he's not able to do it. Jarrod's not able to drive, struggles to prepare any food for himself, can't read stories to the girls and is not able to offer much help at all around the house.

    ''He is also starting to look like a very frail, sick person.''

    Briony Lyle added: ''We are both very aware of the amount of drugs and medication that has gone into Jarrod's body over the years but things are starting to get really scary at the moment. It looks as if this recovery is going to be the longest and hardest one so far.''

    Lyle has twice beaten acute myeloid leukemia, in 1998 and 2012, and was able to return to play professional golf.

    He made an emotional comeback to the golf course during the 2013 Australian Masters in Melbourne before using a medical exemption to play on the PGA Tour in 2015. He played four seasons on Tour, where he earned $1.875 million in 121 tournaments.

    Lyle has since returned to Australia permanently to be with Briony and daughters Lusi and Jemma.

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    Vermeer wins PGA Professional; 20 make PGA Championship

    By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

    SEASIDE, Calif. – Ryan Vermeer won the PGA Professional Championship on Wednesday, overcoming front-nine problems to top the 20 qualifiers for the PGA Championship.

    The 40-year-old Vermeer, the director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Nebraska, closed with a 1-over 73 on the Bayonet Course for a two-stroke victory over Sean McCarty and Bob Sowards.

    The PGA Championship is in August at Bellerive in St. Louis.

    Three strokes ahead entering the day, Vermeer played the front in 4 over with a double bogey on the par-4 second and bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-4 eighth. He rebounded with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 11th and also birdied the par-5 18th.

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    Vermeer finished at 5-under 283. The former University of Kansas player earned $55,000. He won the 2017 Mizuno Pro/Assistant Championship and finished ninth last year in the PGA Professional to qualify for PGA at Quail Hollow.

    McCarty had a 68, and Sowards shot 69. Sowards won the 2004 title.

    David Muttitt and Jason Schmuhl tied for fourth at 1 under, and 2012 and 2015 champion Matt Dobyns, Jaysen Hansen, and Johan Kok followed at even par.

    Marty Jertson, Brian Smock and Ben Kern were 1 over, and Zach Johnson, Craig Hocknull, Matt Borchert and 2016 winner Rich Berberian Jr. were 2 over. Nine players tied at 3 over, with Shawn Warren, 2017 champion Omar Uresti, 2014 winner Michael Block, Craig Bowden and Danny Balin getting the last five spots at Bellerive in a playoff. Balin got the final spot, beating Brian Norman with a par on the seventh extra hole after Norman lost a ball in a tree.

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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”