The Ascendancy Of Ochoa

By Brian HewittApril 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca. -- The separation is officially defined.
 
Prior to this week, Mexicos Lorena Ochoa clearly stood taller than anyone else in womens golf. Now she is head shoulders above the competition.
 
Sunday at the Kraft Nabisco turned out to be little more than a victory lap for the best female player in the world. Her final round 67 produced a 5-shot victory over runners-up Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen.
 
Now much of the forward spin will focus on the years three remaining womens major championships. Next up is the McDonalds LPGA in June at Bulle Rock in Maryland. Ochoa hasnt won there but she did shoot 69-69 on the weekend last year to tie for sixth.
 
The U.S. Womens Open gets to historic Interlachen later that month. And former Interlachen club president Jim Freeman said Sunday, The strengths of Lorena Ochoas game are exactly what our golf course rewards.
 
Interlachen, where Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open in his Grand Slam year, will play to a par of 72 with four par 5s. Freeman said Ochoa should be able to reach three of them in two under most conditions.
 
Finally in early August the women close out their major run at the RICOH Womens British Open at Sunningdale in England. The first two holes there are par 5s. Ochoa will arrive as the defending champion. Enough said.
 
I think, said Sorenstam when asked if Ochoa has the game to win the Grand Slam, its possible.
 
Meanwhile back at Mission Hills Country Club, Ochoa was on her game right from the start Sunday playing in the final group with Cristie Kerr and Hee-Won Han.
 
Ochoa and Kerr had dueled in the final group at last years U.S. Womens Open staged at Pine Needles. That day began with Kerr leading by a shot. It ended with Kerr winning the championship'and her first major'by two over Ochoa and Angela Park, who tied for second.
 
This time the final threesome was Ochoa, Kerr and South Korean. Ochoas margin at the outset over Han was one and it was two over Kerr, who had fired the same number (66) in the third round here that she did at Pine Needles last June.
 
Kerr wears her competitiveness on her sleeve more than Ochoa. And there was just a slight chill in the air at the first tee box area Sunday as group waited for the signal to play. Ochoa and Han mostly listened to small talk from Ochoas caddie, Dave Brookman. Kerr stood apart and kept her final pre-round thoughts to herself.
 
Ochoa quickly stretched her lead over Kerr to four shots when a perfect short iron to a back right pin left a straight-uphill 9-footer that she poured in the hole for a birdie 3. Kerr, meanwhile, dumped her second into a bunker, left her third short of the putting surface and needed a testy 5-footer to save bogey.
 
Kerr bounced back with a 6-footer for birdie on the par 5 second after a tidy approach. Ochoa outdid her with a drive, a hybrid and two putts.
 
As starts go, it couldnt have been more perfect for Ochoa and, for that matter, the LPGA. The organization must remain publicly impartial. But youd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the top circles of womens golf who wouldnt welcome a run, by Ochoa, at the never-before-achieved female Grand Slam.
 
For its part, the sports media has become increasingly fascinated with hot topics. And you can be sure if heavily-favored Tiger Woods beats the field at next weeks Masters, there will be viewer and reader polls and pundit debates on which player'Ochoa or Woods'is more likely to win their respective calendar Slams in 2008. This is a comparison that will only serve to advance the already-rising public visibility of the womens game.
 
Ochoa insists she is more in the moment. And at Kraft Nabisco this week there was good reason. Two years ago she blazed to an opening 62 but lost Sunday in a playoff to Karrie Webb. Last year she had a piece of the 36-hole lead at this event but melted down late Saturday with a quadruple bogey 7 that included a greenside whiff, on the par 3 17th hole.
 
Friday she led by three shots early on her final nine only to stumble into a 36-hole tie with Heather Young. Saturday it was dj vu all over again. Again she led by three after birdies on 10, 11 and 12. But three-putts on 15 and 17 allowed Han to draw within one after 54 holes.
 
I am not one to be upset, Ochoa said before leaving the grounds at Mission Hills late Saturday. I am really positivethat I have a chance to win a major, and thats what I am going to do, get ready for tomorrow.
 
Let the record show she was ready. Let the record show the separation is officially defined.
 

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    Fleetwood: Carnoustie course record won't help at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, but he’s skeptical that his past experience will help him at The Open.

    Last fall, in the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, Fleetwood birdied six of his last eight holes to card a bogey-free, 9-under 63, the lowest score ever at what is widely considered to be the most difficult course in the Open rota.

    No one expects a repeat this week at Carnoustie – not with the conditions this brown, firm and fast.

    “It’s a completely different course,” Fleetwood said Monday. “Shots that you’ve hit have literally no relevance for a lot of it.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It doesn’t do any harm to have played it for a few years. It doesn’t do any harm to have a course record, but it’s a completely different challenge to what we normally face.”

    Fleetwood took a much-needed two-week break after the French Open, deciding to withdraw from last week’s Scottish Open for a bit more time in his own bed. (He said it was his last full week at home until mid-October.) Since his sparkling 63 to nearly steal the U.S. Open, the Englishman said that he’d “run out of steam” but now feels energized.  

    “There’s not really a good reason why I couldn’t do it (this week),” he said. “It really doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. The only thing they could do is build your confidence and give you examples of what you can do – examples that you can end up there, and you have the game to compete.”

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    NBC Sports Group Kicks Off All-Encompassing Coverage From The 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 16, 2018, 1:25 pm

    Five Past “Champion Golfers of The Year” Highlight Broadcast Team

    Technology Enhancements: Links-Optimized Toptracer, Wind Gauges and Bunker Cams, Including “Johnny Miller Bunker” Along 18th Fairway

    NBC Sports Group’s all-encompassing coverage from The 147TH Open kicked off today with Golf Central Live From The Open, which throughout the week will deliver nearly 50 hours of news and analysis on Golf Channel from Carnoustie Golf Links on the east coast of Scotland. The network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage will feature another 50 live hours being broadcast on linear television (Golf Channel, NBC), spanning from the opening tee shot at 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday through the final putt on Sunday. An additional 170 complementary hours of streaming coverage will include featured holes and groups, bringing NBC Sports’ overall production to more than 350 total hours surrounding The Open.

    “The Open is unique. Golf’s original championship isn’t just steeped in nearly 150 years of tradition; it features a multitude of storylines that fuel our comprehensive coverage plan,” said Mike McCarley, president, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Fans look forward to the best players in the world conquering nature’s elements – this year at iconic Carnoustie Golf Links – in their quest to become the Champion Golfer of the Year. Our extensive approach utilizes a deep roster of commentators to set the stage leading up to our unprecedented coverage from the first tee shot early Thursday morning through the last putt on Sunday evening.”

    Led by the deepest and most-experienced roster of analysts, hosts, reporters and personalities in the game, coverage will set the scene for golf fans with a focus on key storylines and showcase the unique traditions synonymous with golf’s original championship, culminating in the winner being awarded the iconic Claret Jug and introduced as the Champion Golfer of the Year.

    “CHAMPION GOLFERS OF THE YEAR” HEADLINE BROADCAST TEAM:

    NBC Sports’ live tournament and news coverage will utilize several past “Champion Golfers of the Year,” including NBC Sports’ lead analyst Johnny Miller (1976), as well as Nick Faldo (1987, ’90, ’92) and Justin Leonard (1997). David Duval (2001) and Tom Lehman (1996) are in the field as past champions, and also are scheduled to contribute to coverage. *Full broadcast teams outlined below*

    THE MOST LIVE COVERAGE FROM ANY GOLF EVENT: NBC Sports’ 50 hours of live tournament coverage will utilize more than 100 available cameras and employ several technology enhancements to showcase Carnoustie’s distinct characteristics:

    • “Links Toptracer”: A reverse ball flight configuration optimized for links golf will showcase not only where shots land, but also – given players’ strategic use of the ground in links golf – “Links Toptracer” will track how shots roll out.
    • “Bunker Cam”: Coverage will feature NBC Sports’ popular “bunker cam” technology in a total of eight bunkers on Holes 5, 8, 12, 13 and 18, including in several of Carnoustie’s challenging pot bunkers. For the first time, the network will use the embedded camera technology in the face of fairway bunkers (Holes 12 & 18), including the “Johnny Miller bunker,” positioned along the right side of the fairway on the par-4 18th hole. The bunker is named in his honor after it took him two shots to get out of it during The Open in 1975.
    • Influence of Wind: Wind indicators will be utilized around the course to measure changes in wind conditions in real-time, providing immediate ultra-precise data so viewers can easily distinguish what a player is facing over a given shot.
    • “Playing Through” Returns; Callaway to Feature Custom Creative Content: Enhancing both the viewership and commercial experience, NBC Sports’ popular “Playing Through” split-screen commercial format returns for The Open, ensuring viewers don’t miss key stretches of the action during commercial breaks. For the first time at The Open, Callaway has produced an innovative “Playing Through” 30-second spot featuring 2013 Open champion Phil Mickelson. During NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open at Royal Birkdale last year, an additional 200 shots of live golf were shown via “Playing Through.”

    MORE THAN 170 HOURS OF COMPLEMENTARY LIVE STREAMING COVERAGE: Complementing traditional linear broadcast coverage, NBC Sports will showcase more than 170 hours of live tournament feeds being streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms and TheOpen.com. These feeds also will be available as part of DirecTV’s featured mosaic coverage of The Open. The four feeds will include a simulcast of tournament coverage; a “Marquee Group,” for both the morning and afternoon waves of competition; a “3-Hole Channel,” featuring tournament play on Holes 8, 9 and 10; and “Spotlight,” (also available in 4K) showcasing competition taking place on Holes 1 and 18, along with competitor interviews on the range and inside the press center.

    Additional Highlights Surrounding NBC Sports’ Coverage of The 147TH Open:

    • NBC News’ Dylan Dreyer to Contribute from Carnoustie: Golf enthusiast Dylan Dreyer of NBC News’ TODAY will offer contributions from on-site at Carnoustie. Given the extensive influence weather tends to have on The Open, Dreyer’s experience as a weather anchor and a golf fan will provide a unique perspective.
    • NBC Universo Airing Simulcast of The Open: NBC Universo will deliver live Spanish-language coverage of the third and final rounds of The Open, Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22. Third round coverage will air live from 1-3 p.m. ET on Saturday, and final round coverage will air live from Noon-2 p.m. ET on Sunday. Coverage will be led by play-by-play host Miguel Gurwitz alongside analyst Edgar Lopez.
    • Conor Moore, Vernon Kay to contribute to NBC Sports’ Digital and Social Media Platforms:After grabbing the attention of the golf world leading up to the Masters earlier this year, social media influencer Conor Moore has partnered with NBC Sports to contribute to the network’s digital and social media platforms surrounding The Open, including a series of impersonations of top players in the field. Additional social media efforts throughout the week will offer expanded original content, including: a collaboration with British television host Vernon Kay, reports from Golf Channel social media correspondent Alexandra O’Laughlin, and a Lego recreation of Jean Van de Velde’s collapse in 1999.

    NBC Sports Live Tournament Broadcast Team

    Tom Abbott, Notah Begay, Billy Ray Brown, Curt Byrum, Nick Faldo, David Feherty, Jerry Foltz, Terry Gannon, Dan Hicks, Peter Jacobsen, Gary Koch, Justin Leonard, Todd Lewis, Jim “Bones” Mackay, Roger Maltbie, Johnny Miller, Frank Nobilo, Jimmy Roberts, Mark Rolfing, Tim Rosaforte, Steve Sands, Mike Tirico

    Golf Central Live From The Open Broadcast Team

    Cara Banks, Notah Begay, Steve Burkowski, Brandel Chamblee, Jaime Diaz, Rex Hoggard, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, Rich Lerner, Todd Lewis, Frank Nobilo, Mark Rolfing, Tim Rosaforte, Ken Schofield

    Morning Drive

    John Cook and Damon Hack on-site at Carnoustie

    Complementary Streaming Coverage Broadcast Team

    Tom Abbott, Cara Banks, Steve Burkowski, Ryan Burr, Curt Byrum, John Cook, Damon Hack, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard

    NBC Universo Broadcast Team

    Miguel Gurwitz, Edgar Lopez

    Golf Channel Digital

    Mercer Baggs, Jay Coffin, Rex Hoggard, Ryan Lavner, Bailey Mosier, Ryan Reiterman, Brandon Tucker

    Social Media Contributors

    Vernon Kay, Conor Moore, Alexandra O’Laughlin

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    What's in the bag: John Deere winner Michael Kim

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 1:11 pm

    Michael Kim won his first career PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic. Here's a look inside his bag:

    Driver: Titleist TS2 (10.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 60X shaft

    Fairway wood:  Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 70 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 816H1 (21 degrees), Graphite Design Tour AD DI-85 X Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (4), 718 AP2 (5-PW), with True Temper XP 115 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 350 prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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    First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 12:20 pm

    Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

    Other notable groupings:

    • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
    • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
    • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
    • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
    • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
    • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

    Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

    1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

    1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

    1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

    2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

    2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

    2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

    2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

    2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

    3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

    3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

    3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

    3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

    4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

    4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

    4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

    4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

    4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

    4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

    5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

    5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

    5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

    5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

    5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

    6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

    6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

    6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

    6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

    6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

    7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

    7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

    7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

    7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

    7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

    8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

    8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

    8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

    8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

    8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

    9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

    9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

    9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

    9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

    9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

    9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

    10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

    10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

    10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

    10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

    10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

    11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

    11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon