Cho Wins on Futures Tour

By Futures Tour MediaJuly 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourSTRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vt. -- The ever-changing skies of Vermont were as unpredictable as Saturday's final-round leader board at the $70,000 Stratton Mountain Futures Classic. And the ebb and flow of leading scores kept the galleries guessing right down to the final eagle putt of teenager Aram Cho.
 
Cho, 18, started the day five shots behind leader Lisa Chang of Los Angeles, but the native of Seoul, Korea carded birdies on four of her first nine holes to take a one-shot lead, then added another birdie on the 11th hole for an outright, two-stroke edge at Stratton Mountain Country Club.
 
But how the day evolved gave Green Mountain golf lovers a flashback to yesteryear. When the Futures Tour first arrived in Vermont in 1996 to play at Green Mountain National, Smriti Mehra came to the 18th hole tied with native Vermonter Holly Reynolds. Mehra eagled the final hole and won by two shots.
 
Eight years later, a baby-faced rookie nicknamed 'Pooh' who had turned professional less than a year earlier, repeated the crescendo final act in the same state. After a bogey on the 16th and a final-round charge by Young Jo of Suwon, Korea and Lindsey Wright of Albury, Australia, Cho found herself in a three-way tie for the lead at 7 under par. Playing behind Wright and Jo, it was Cho's tournament to lose. But instead of sputtering on the 18th, the teen showed the mettle that had helped her win her first professional title four weeks ago in Decatur, Ill.
 
'I hit my 3-wood 220 yards to the 18th green and thought I hit it pretty close,' said Cho, through fellow player Sunny Oh, who helped interpret for the winner. 'But when I walked to the green, it was about 40 feet away from the hole. I knew I needed two putts to win, but I said to my dad [also her caddie], 'let's just make this one.''
 
And the teen slammed home the monster putt to dash the playoff hopes of Wright and Jo, who watched Cho's finish from the back of the clubhouse.
 
'It was so close,' said Jo, 20, who fired a final-round 67. 'I was right there. I'm playing solid and I know I can win soon, but I feel happy for Aram. We're good friends.'
 
Jo had a 40-foot eagle attempt of her own on the 18th green, but had to settle for a tap-in birdie and a share of second with Wright at 7-under 209. And although Wright didn't win, her final-round 64 was the story of the day on the rolling 6,212-yard, par-72 course.
 
The Aussie began Saturday's round at one-over par and blistered the course with eight birdies that put her on the scoreboard from out of nowhere. With a final-round scoring average of 69.375, Wright kept the groups behind her watching scoreboards and hoping the former Pepperdine University All-American would run out of holes before she went any lower. She did, indeed, birdie the last hole, hitting 16 greens and recording 27 putts for the round. And her season-low Futures Tour score of 64 was the consolation for runner-up status.
 
'I'm definitely not disappointed,' said Wright, 24, who retained her top ranking as the Tour's money leader. 'It was just magical today. I played like every hole was a birdie opportunity and I was really focused. My friends were laughing and calling me 'Last-Day Lindsey.''
 
Last-Day Lindsey nearly got the last laugh, but Cho played the no-fear style of golf that has moved her into the No. 2 spot on the Tour's money list and into the top position for the Tour's Rookie of the Year honors. For her win, the teen pocketed $9,800.
 
'I'm so happy about winning,' said Cho, who posted rounds of 71-71-65 for her 9-under-par performance of 207 in the 54-hole event. 'I feel like I'm flying. I didn't think about winning today because I was five strokes behind the leader, but after the birdie putt on No. 9, I knew I would take the lead.'
 
Danielle Downey of Spencerport, N.Y., who won in Lima, Ohio last month, fired a final-round, 4-under-par 68 to move into fourth place at 210. Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, also carded a 68, to tie for fifth at 212 with three others. And tour veteran Lori Atsedes of Ithaca, N.Y., moved into a four-way tie for ninth at 213 with her final-round 68.
 
But it was Cho's day. The teen can't explain her rapid success after only eight years of playing the game she learned from her father, Sung Ken Cho -- who caddies for the teen on tour.
 
'I'm surprised about the whole thing,' added Cho, whose final-round 65 was her career-low round. 'I think everybody worked hard today. This is the best I've ever played.'
 
How did the Tour's return to Vermont after a one-year hiatus register with typically stoic New Englanders? By the looks of fans who still fondly remember the McCall's LPGA Classic in Stratton Mountain from 1990-1995, it's safe to say Cho's grand finale on the 18th hole will go down as one of those memorable moments in Vermont golf.
 
How could it not? With Last-Day Lindsey, a baby-face future star named Pooh and a young player named Young Jo rising to the top of the 144-player field, they appear destined to meet again on the next level in the very near future. Today's final round in Stratton certainly was a preview of rounds to come.
 
Related Links:
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”