Ochoa saying goodbye this week in Mexico

By Associated PressApril 29, 2010, 3:01 am

LPGA Tour _newMORELIA, Mexico – Michael Whan had several weeks to come up with a plan to talk Lorena Ochoa out of retiring after this week’s Tres Marias Championship.

The LPGA commissioner offered one last pitch on Wednesday to the 28-year-old Mexican, who has been ranked No. 1 for three years but is leaving to raise a family and elevate the profile of her charity foundation.

“I told her I’m going to send her some Brett Favre videos,” said Whan, sitting next to Ochoa. “It’s never too late to come back.”

Ochoa laughed, patted Whan on the shoulders and continued saying goodbye.

Ochoa announced last week she was retiring as an active player, which many expected – just not this soon – after her marriage in December to Aeromexico chief executive Andres Conesa.

She’ll play a few selected tournaments, but a full-blown return seems unlikely.

Despite golf’s low profile in Mexico, she is ranked among the country’s five most successful athletes joining baseball pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, 400-meter runner Ana Guevara and soccer player Hugo Sanchez.

“I’m not going away because I am not playing good golf,” Ochoa said, “I’m going away because this is the right time for me. I’ve achieved my goals, I’m happy and I want to leave as No. 1.”

Ochoa said she intended play this season, but in Asia early in the season she found herself unmotivated in two tournaments. Her decision came quickly after that.

“I feel light. I feel happier,” she said. “It’s been easier the last couple of weeks.”

Ochoa has won 27 LPGA events, including two majors, has been No. 1 for three years and has been honored four straight years as the LPGA’s Player of the Year. The has also won this event three times, including last season.

She leaves a reputation for kindness and humility in her wake and steps away as the one of the most popular players on tour.

“Lorena is a better person than a golfer,” said tour player Reilley Rankin, who described Ochoa as her “best friend out here.”

“I think we all knew it was coming within a couple of years, but to be honest with you I don’t think Lorena knew it was coming this soon,” Rankin said. “She has just always been so real and very well-balanced, and as soon as that balance in her life was a little off she was aware of it.”

Player after player offered stories about Ochoa being down to earth.

Rankin described traveling with Ochoa on the Future’s development tour and buying fishing poles to kill time as they racked up thousands of highway miles.

“We went and bought poles one week and we just found a place to fish every week – me and my dad against Lorena and her brother. “We had an on-going contest who caught the most fish.”

Christina Kim recalled being paired with her a few years ago in the tournament Ochoa’s hosts annually in her hometown of Guadalajara.

“They were holding up babies at the edge of the ropes, just like the Pope,” Kim said. “I’ve been saying for years she going to be canonized one of these days.”

Hawaii-born Michelle Wie, part of a long list of players who could eventually take over the No. 1 ranking, said she respected Ochoa for being true to herself.

“It’s fast,” Wie said of the retirement. “I kind of respect her for that, though. It was a good move. She has to do whatever makes her happy. And she left on top and that I respect too.”

Ochoa will tee off on Thursday and Friday with American Natalie Gulbis and Japanese Ai Miyazato. Ochoa asked specifically to play with both of them.

Gulbis and Ochoa grew up in junior golf together, and Miyazato has won two of the first four LPGA events this season and is also in that group that could eventually claim No. 1.

“I think she’s the nicest girl on tour,” Ochoa said of Miyazato. “She’s my favorite. I admire her, how she handles her career with all the pressure from Asia, from Japan. It’s going to be a couple rounds that I’m going to remember forever, so it’s nice to be with them.”

Miyazato knew nothing of Ochoa’s choice until she was told Wednesday on the practice range.

“I feel really happy about that. It is an honor to be able to play with her in her last tournament,” Miyazato said. “She is always the same, on the same wavelength if she is playing good or not so good. It is tough to be like that.”

Just behind Ochoa in the rankings are: No. 2 Jiyai Shin of South Korea, Yani Tseng of Taiwan, Suzanne Pettersen of Norway, Miyazato and American Cristie Kerr at No. 6. Wie is No. 9.

Despite Ochoa’s dominance, no Mexican player is anywhere close to the top tier. Behind Ochoa is Sophia Sheridan ranked No. 344 and Tanya Dergal at 737. Many eyes will be on two Mexican 13-year-olds playing the tournament – Ana Paula Valdes and Marijosse Navarro.

Ochoa is sure to get a giant reception. A 15-foot-by-15-foot canvas sign hanging in front of the massive flagstone club house reads: “Welcome to your home Lore. Thanks for all you have given us.”

Tournament officials said they expected attendance of 40,000, almost double the 25,000 of last season at the Tres Marias Golf Club, a mountainside course cut by deep valleys and spectacular scenery.

Ochoa said she had given away about 200 tickets to friends and family.

“I can tell you right away it is going to be tough dealing with all the emotions. For sure there are going to be a lot of tears – joy tears,” Ochoa said. “For me, this is the best moment in my career.”

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Stricker, Jobe share lead in Sioux Falls

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 11:57 pm

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Steve Stricker and Brandt Jobe topped the Sanford International leaderboard again Saturday after another cool and breezy day in the inaugural PGA Tour Champions event.

After matching Jerry Smith and David McKenzie with first-round 7-under 63s, Striker and Jobe each shot 67 to get to 10-under 130 at Minnehaha Country Club.

''It was a challenge out there today,'' Stricker said. ''It was gusty, the wind came out of the south, where we played yesterday it was out of the north, so it was a totally different golf course.''

Jobe made an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th, and Stricker missed a 6-footer to leave them tied.

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

''It's pretty straightforward off the tee and the greens are what make it difficult at times and you've just got to be in the right spot to have good birdie putts at it,'' Stricker said. ''If not, then you've got to play pretty defensive at times. ... It's a simple game plan, but try to stay out of trouble and keep trying to put pressure on everybody.''

Stricker won in Arizona and Mississippi in consecutive starts in May for his first senior victories. Next week in France, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants.

Jobe birdied four of the last five holes. He won last year in Iowa for his lone senior title

''I think we kind of got used to what the wind was,'' Jobe said. ''Of course, there's some scoring holes on the back. The front played very difficult. It was just kind of try not to screw up for a while there.''

Smith was a stroke back after a 68.

Scott McCarron also had a 68 to get to 8 under. Woody Austin was 7 under after a 64.

McKenzie had a 77 to drop into a tie for 43rd at even par.

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Final-round tee times: Tiger, Rory in last pairing

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2018, 11:40 pm

It's Tiger Woods. It's Rory McIlroy. It's the final pairing in the final round of the Tour Championship.

Here's a look at tee times for Sunday at East Lake Golf Club.

(All times ET)

11:45AM: Patrick Reed (+8), Phil Mickelson (+11)

11:55AM: Keegan Bradley (+5), Bubba Watson (+5)

12:05PM: Brooks Koepka (+4), Francesco Molinari (+4)

12:15PM: Kevin Na (+2), Patrick Cantlay (+2)

12:25PM: Bryson DeChambeau (+2), Cameron Smith (+2)

12:35PM: Jason Day (E), Rickie Fowler (E)

12:45PM: Marc Leishman (E), Patton Kizzire (E)

12:55PM: Tommy Fleetwood (-2), Hideki Matsuyama (-1)

1:05PM: Justin Thomas (-4), Webb Simpson (-3)

1:15PM: Gary Woodland (-4), Xander Schauffele (-4)

1:25PM: Aaron Wise (-4), Dustin Johnson (-4)

1:35PM: Tony Finau (-5), Billy Horschel (-5)

1:45PM: Jon Rahm (-6), Paul Casey (-5)

1:55PM: Justin Rose (-9), Kyle Stanley (-6)

2:05PM: Tiger Woods (-12), Rory McIlroy (-9)

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FedExCup projections through Rd. 3 of the Tour Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2018, 11:26 pm

Justin Rose remains the man to beat for the FedExCup title. Though he trails Tiger Woods by three shots through three rounds of the Tour Championship, he's still the projected winner of the $10 million bonus.

Woods can still win the cup if he wins the Tour Championship and Rose finishes in a three-way tie for fifth or worse. He also needs Bryson DeChambeau [currently T-21] to finish in a two-way tie for 15th or worse and Tony Finau [T-6] to finish in a two-way tie for third or worse.

Here are the FedExCup projections with 18 holes to play at East Lake Golf Club.

FedExCup Rank PLAYER NAME FedExCup Points
1 2 Justin Rose 2780
2 20 Tiger Woods 2219
3 1 Bryson DeChambeau 2160
4 3 Tony Finau 1887
5 4 Dustin Johnson 1576
6 5 Justin Thomas 1560
7 17 Rory McIlroy 1252
8 6 Keegan Bradley 1247
9 7 Brooks Koepka 1099
10 9 Billy Horschel 1007
11 8 Bubba Watson 927
12 24 Jon Rahm 660
13 25 Kyle Stanley 651
14 10 Cameron Smith 640
15 11 Webb Simpson 612
16 12 Jason Day 560
17 18 Xander Schauffele 531
18 26 Paul Casey 518
19 13 Francesco Molinari 491
20 21 Aaron Wise 486
21 16 Patrick Cantlay 453
22 19 Tommy Fleetwood 451
23 14 Phil Mickelson 448
24 15 Patrick Reed 432
25 28 Gary Woodland 413
26 23 Rickie Fowler 374
27 27 Hideki Matsuyama 354
27 22 Kevin Na 354
29 29 Marc Leishman 316
30 30 Patton Kizzire 307
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TT postscript: 'Good Lord' what a start to Rd. 3

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 22, 2018, 11:08 pm

ATLANTA – Sweet fancy Moses! That might be southern slang or just something heard on “Seinfeld,” but, holy moly does it apply to what we witnessed from Tiger Woods early Saturday afternoon. Here are some things I think I think after Round 3 of the Tour Championship.

• I don’t just think that Tiger has a three-shot lead with one round to play. That’s a cold, hard fact. His 5-under 65 at East Lake could have been much lower, but it’s hard to complain when you go from co-leader to 3 up by day’s end. Take a look at this start:

Six birdies in his first seven holes. That’s prettier than a peach in June [definitely southern slang, and just terrible]. He couldn’t keep the pace, and played his final 11 holes in 1 over. But that start was a work of art. Take it to France next week and hang it in the Louvre.

"Yeah, I got off to a nice start there. I made some nice putts," Woods said in near disbelief. "Good Lord."

• It felt like old times out there today. The crowd was roaring. Our man couldn’t miss. And it didn’t look like anyone could step up to his challenge. Ultimately, his tepid finish allowed Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy to stay within shouting distance. Thanks to a McIlroy birdie and a Rose par at the last, it’s Rory who gets to play alongside Tiger on Sunday.

• Can Tiger skip the ninth and 16th holes tomorrow? He’s played those two in a combined 5 over par this week, making bogey on both in the third round. He was fortunate to only drop one shot on 16, thanks to an incredible fourth shot.

Said Tiger: "The fourth shot was money, because I was practicing that in the practice round, hitting a 56 or a 60 [degree wedge], and I couldn't quite get it right. So I went with a 60 today, and I made sure I hooked it in there with a little bit of hook spin so that first hop kicked through the grain, and it came out nicely."

• Many of you noticed Tiger’s feet kept slipping on tee shots. I’d love to give you an explanation, but even Tiger doesn’t know why.

"My foot slipped a lot today. I don't know why," he said. "I'll analyze some of the video and some of the stuff, and we'll figure it out for tomorrow."

• Can Tiger win the FedExCup? He sure can. He needs to win tomorrow and then have Rose finish in a three-way tie for fifth or worse. He also needs Bryson DeChambeau [currently T-21] to finish in a two-way tie for 15th or worse and Tony Finau [T-6] to finish in a two-way tie for third or worse. But while the $10 million bonus would be nice, it’s just that: a bonus. Let’s end this five-year winless drought and get No. 80!