Tseng Tops Hjorth Wins McDonalds LPGA

By Associated PressJune 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
McDonalds LPGAHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- In her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, playing in only her third major championship, 19-year-old Yani Tseng felt lucky to become the youngest winner of the LPGA Championship on Sunday.
 
After the day she had at Bulle Rock, that was hardly the case.
 
First, she went 18 holes with Lorena Ochoa and closed with a 4-under 68 in searing heat, denying the No. 1 player in womens golf a chance to win a third straight major. Then came a sudden-death playoff with Maria Hjorth that lasted four holes.
 
Tseng finished it off by choking down on a 6-iron out of the first cut of rough and hitting the perfect shot, the ball stopping 5 feet behind the hole for a birdie that made her the first rookie to win an LPGA major in 10 years.
 
I cant believe I just won a major, Tseng said. Everything is coming so fast.
 
It felt like slow motion for Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, both desperate for their own brand of history.
 
Ochoa, who only two days ago appeared to be sailing toward a third straight major, went 14 holes without a birdie. The drought ended on the 16th hole when a 20-yard pitch for eagle banged off the pin, and a birdie on the final hole only made it look close. She closed with a 71 and wound up one shot behind.
 
It wasnt my time, Ochoa said, showing more emotion than she had all week. I am not ashamed. Im proud of my finish. Now I move on and try to win the next few tournaments.
 
Sorenstam, trying to join Mickey Wright as the only four-time winner of the McDonalds LPGA Championship, also closed with a 71 and could count more than a dozen putts on the weekend that she could have made. She twice missed inside 5 feet on par 5s in the final round, and she had a 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th to get into the playoff.
 
It was weak and well short.
 
Its a tough time, Sorenstam said. I was determined today, really this whole week. I felt like I could do it.
 
Hjorth appeared to have fate on her side when a fairway metal headed for the hazard instead ricocheted off the rocks in a creek and bounded across the green, turning bogey into birdie. Then she chipped in on the next hole for birdie and the lead.
 
She closed with a 71, and had 18-foot and 12-foot birdie putts to win in the playoff, both narrowly missing.
 
I dont think its really hit me, but Im sure Im going to be very, very tired pretty soon, Hjorth said. But Im very happy with the day. I played solid golf all day, and just very proud of myself for hanging in there.
 
Despite her age and inexperience, Tseng felt right at home in the playoff, which is all about match play. She won 19 times as an amateur, first gaining recognition in 2004 when she rallied to beat Michelle Wie'at a time when Wie was on top of her game'at the U.S. Womens Public Links Amateur. A year later, Tseng beat Morgan Pressel in the North & South Amateur.
 
With power and poise, and a 6-iron she wont soon forget, Tseng became the second-youngest winner of an LPGA major behind Pressel, who was 18 when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year.
 
Tseng became the first rookie to win a major since Se Ri Pak, who won the LPGA Championship 10 years ago at age 20.
 
Playing the 18th hole for the third time in an hour, Tseng took her hand off the driver when it sailed to the right, taking a good hop out of the deep grass and into the first cut. Then came a 6-iron, drawing toward the flag.
 
I wasnt that nervous when I teed off, she said. I just tell myself, Make this putt and win a major.
 
That was something T.C. Chen, her countryman and part-time mentor, failed to do in the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, where he became infamous for a double-hit on a chip out of deep rough and wound up one shot behind Andy North.
 
He always teach me something because Im a rookie, Tseng said.
 
Tseng and Hjorth finished at 12-under 276.
 
Laura Diaz (70) was one birdie away from the lead throughout the back nine until a three-putt bogey on the 17th. She finished fifth.
 
The Ochoa-Sorenstam duel on a searing hot day at Bulle Rock never developed. Instead, five players had a share of the lead at some point in the final round, and the back nine was up for grabs to the very end.
 
Ochoa opened with a 10-foot birdie and didnt make another one until the par-4 16th.
 
She had eagle chances on consecutive holes, both times to get within one of the lead. But she three-putted for par from 45 feet on the 15th, and her eagle pitch from 20 yards lipped out on the 16th.
 
I never lost the hope, she said. I though something good was going to happen, that miracles exist. But it wasnt my time.
 
Still, it was her seventh consecutive top 10 in a major.
 
Equally disappointed was Sorenstam, playing the LPGA Championship for the final time and applauding the fans walking up the 18th.
 
I left a lot of shots out there, Sorenstam said. I wish I could have converted one or two; it would have been enough. But I didnt.
 
Both were part of the carnage on the 13th in which the top six on the leaderboard were a combined to play the toughest hole at Bulle Rock in 7-over par.
 
Sorenstam was the only player in the fairway, but she missed the green to the right, her chip ran over the cup and her 4-foot par putt never hit the hole. That ended a streak of 42 consecutive holes at Bulle Rock without a bogey.
 
Worse yet, she never made another birdie the rest of the way.
 

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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”