Annika Out Ochoa Survives Playoff

By Sports NetworkNovember 17, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- When the dust settled on an exciting second round, here's how things stood at the ADT Championship: the best player was cut, a wild-card rookie held the lead and three players escaped a six-way playoff to stay alive.
Indeed, the LPGA's season-ending event is shaking out a lot like the NCAA Tournament.
Ai Miyazato
Ai Miyazato is the leader, but scores are reset after the third round (Getty Images).
Annika Sorenstam, the world No. 1, shot an even-par 72 and missed the cut at 2-over 146 -- one shot off the cut line and nine shots worse than leader Ai Miyazato of Japan.
Miyazato, an LPGA rookie and star in her home country, shot a 3-under 69 and led by a shot at 7-under-par 137. Paraguay's Julieta Granada also had a 69 and was second at 5-under 139.
By the time those two women finished their rounds, the story had become Sorenstam and what turned out to be a crowded playoff for the final three spots in the third round.
It was the second time this season that Sorenstam failed to make a cut. At the Michelob Ultra Open in May, she ended a streak of 68 consecutive cuts made dating to the 2002 Women's British Open.
As the two-time defending champion and four-time ADT winner, her exit this weekend was more surprising.
'I tried hard. There's not much more I can do,' said Sorenstam, who finished 20th.
Sorenstam made a bogey at the sixth, a birdie at the seventh and had 16 pars over the rest of the course. She needed a birdie at the par-4 18th to have a chance at making the playoff, but hit a fairway bunker and a greenside bunker before saving par with a 20-foot putt.
'I just couldn't get anything going,' she said.
The final three berths into the third round were determined by a playoff after Lorena Ochoa (70), Pat Hurst (73), Juli Inkster (72), Brittany Lang (70), Jee Young Lee (73) and Morgan Pressel (74) tied for 14th place at 1-over 145.
Hurst bogeyed the first playoff hole, the par-3 17th at Trump International, and was the first player out. Pressel was the first player in, making a 36-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole, the par-4 18th.
'Relieved is the right word,' Pressel gushed after leaving four players to battle for the final two spots.
Inkster and Ochoa became the second and third players to escape the playoff when they made long birdie putts back at the 17th. Inkster rolled in a curling, left-to-right downhill putt, and Ochoa followed with a 25-footer from the fringe moments later.
'She made it and I had to make it,' said Ochoa, who clinched Player of the Year last week with her sixth win of the season.
'Now we have to go out and shoot 5 or 6 under, so I don't know if it's a win-win or a lose-lose,' Inkster added. 'But at least we have a chance tomorrow.'
The playoff results trimmed the field from 32 to 16 players. According to a new format, there will be another cut following the third round to determine the top eight players for Sunday's final round.
Discarding the first 54 holes, the final standings will be determined only by a player's score on Sunday. The winner will receive a record $1 million from the $1.55 million purse.
As Friday's round was coming to a close, some of the players seemed unsure whether their scores would carry over to Saturday, which they do.
'I don't think anyone knows what's going on, really,' joked Cristie Kerr, who birdied the 18th to make herself safe at even-par. 'Now that I know they carry over, I'm going to have to shoot 6 under (tomorrow).'
Others -- especially those flirting with the cut line -- echoed Kerr's confusion.
'I have no idea what's going on, I just have to hang around,' Inkster said after making a knee-knocking par putt at the 18th to remain at plus-one and make the playoff.
The new format, Hurst contended, forced some to reconsider their game plan over the first two rounds. Making it to Sunday, when one good round could produce a hefty paycheck, became even more important.
'There's a different mentality,' she said. 'You've got to play differently out there.'
As for Miyazato, who also led after the first round, she remained steady with four birdies and a bogey Friday despite a bout of nervousness.
'Tomorrow is going to be more nervous for me,' said the 21-year-old rookie. 'It's going to be a good experience...I need birdies. I need patience, I think.'
Karrie Webb, who ranks second behind Ochoa on the money list, shot a 71 and is tied for third place with Natalie Gulbis at 4-under 140. Gulbis, still seeking her first career win, had her second consecutive 70 Friday.
Wendy Ward was fifth at 3-under 141 following a 70, while Paula Creamer (71), Se Ri Pak (71) and Il Mi Chung were one shot further back at 140.
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He will return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finished worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.