Rookie Leads Wie Webb Crash

By Associated PressJune 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- In a U.S. Women's Open dominated by talk of teenagers, one of them wound up atop the leaderboard.
 
And hardly anyone noticed.
 
As 17-year-old Michelle Wie continued her free fall and 12-year-old Alexis Thompson played carefree until it was too dark to continue, LPGA Tour rookie Angela Park, 18, birdied her first three holes and hung on for a 3-under 68, leaving her in the lead in the first round for the second straight major.
 
No rain touched the turf at Pine Needles, but play was suspended for 3 1/2 hours because of lightning in the area, allowing only the morning batch of 78 players to finish the round.
 
Thompson, the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women's Open history, three-putted the 18th green for a bogey that put her at 3 over par after nine holes, a respectable start considering she played the tougher back nine first. Wie went off early, and fell off the map quickly. She hit only four fairways, matched her highest score in a Women's Open with an 82, and offered an assessment that was hard to grasp.
 
'It's just a very fine line between shooting 69 and shooting what I shot today,' said Wie, who stretched her streak to 21 rounds without breaking par.
 
She wasn't the only one who struggled.
 
Karrie Webb, a seven-time major champion who won the U.S. Women's Open the last time it was played at Pine Needles in 2001, failed to make a birdie and walked off with an 83, her highest score on the LPGA Tour.
 
'I have no excuses. I'm not that kind of player,' Webb said. 'Do you think I had any idea I'd shoot 83? It was a terrible round, one of the worst days of my career.'
 
Three players were at 2 under at various points on Pine Needles -- In-Bee Park (16 holes), Jee Young Lee (12) and Karine Icher (10).
 
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam was at even par through 13 holes.
 
Park also was tied for the lead at the LPGA Championship after one round, eventually finishing fifth.
 
'Maybe this week will be different,' said Park, who was born in Brazil to South Korean parents and grew up in California.
 
She played in the morning, when Pine Needles was soft from overnight rain and the wind hadn't begun to rustle the pines, and she quickly fired off three straight birdies. Park was at 4 under most of the round until hitting a tee shot into the trees on the 17th, pitching out and missing a 25-foot par putt.
 
Park played before hardly any gallery, most of them watching Wie self-destruct again. Time and again, the Hawaii teenager posed on a shot, only to have the club slide through her hands as she realized the shot was off its mark.
 
'I know I'm a better player than this,' Wie said.
 
Par became a premium, but it was hardly a dull day. Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 player seeking her first major, holed out for eagle from 195 yards in a bunker, only to have luck turn against her when a shot over the green bounced through two grandstands, across the road and out-of-bounds, leading to double bogey.
 
She was at even-par 71, along with Brittany Lincicome.
 
Laura Davies holed out for eagle on the eighth hole, but was 1 over through 14.
 
Ochoa and Morgan Pressel were full of smiles when they walked off Pine Needles at even par.
 
'I'm doing good so far,' Ochoa said. 'Playing in a U.S. Open, it's always good to be around par.'
 
She got there in the most peculiar fashion.
 
Ochoa was hitting fairways and greens, always a good recipe at this tournament, when she found a fairway bunker on the 14th and had 195 yards to the hole. She figured her caddie wanted her to hit 7-wood, but Ochoa wanted a 5-wood.
 
'I had a really good feeling,' she said. 'I said, 'Just trust me, I like this one.' And I hit it perfect.'
 
She heard the crowd cheer when it hit the green, and it got louder as the ball approached the cup, dropping for eagle.
 
'It was very special,' Ochoa said.
 
A good break turned into a rotten one on the 440-yard 17th, when Ochoa was one shot out of the lead. She hit a 7-wood that jumped out of the rough and sailed over the green. But instead of banging off the grandstand, it shot through the two sets of bleachers, bounding over the pine needles, crossing a small path and settling just beyond the out-of-bounds stakes.
 
'A little bit of bad luck,' Ochoa said. 'But nothing you can do, and I'm really happy with my round.'
 
Pressel was happy when she woke up, reached down to feel her ankle and felt no swelling. She was limping Wednesday from a spider bite, but there was that typical spring in her step at this championship, and she was steady as ever. She recovered from consecutive bogeys early in her round and was right where she wanted to be.
 
Wie, however, looked as though she wanted to be anywhere but Pine Needles. Even after she rapped in a 2-foot par putt for her 82nd stroke of the round, she barely mustered a smile.
 
It was similar to the 83 she shot in the third round at the LPGA Championship, where she finished in last place by 10 shots with her highest 72-hole score as an amateur or a pro. She played without a brace on her left wrist, and her injury seemed to be the least of her worries the way she slashed out of the Bermuda rough, often the case from hitting only four fairways.
 
'All I need is the confidence to play well,' she said. 'And I just need to see one round where all my shots are where I want them to be. Then after that, it's a done deal. I just need to see it.'
 
But she also seemed to be in denial that her game is in disrepair. It was her 21st consecutive round without breaking par against men or women, and tied her highest score in the U.S. Women's Open. She also shot 82 in the final round at Cherry Hills two years ago.
 
'It's very frustrating because I know I played better than this,' Wie said.
 
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    Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

    Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

    Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

    “It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

    The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.


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    “I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

    A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

    “I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

    He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

    “It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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    Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

    Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

    “It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”


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    The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

    He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

    Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

    “I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

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    Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

    By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

    Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

    Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

    All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

    “This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


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    Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

    “It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

    Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

    “Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

    Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

    “My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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    Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

    We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

    Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

    If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

    It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

    Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.