Castrale Stuns Ochoa in Playoff Victory

By Sports NetworkJune 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
Ginn Tribute Hosted by AnnikaMOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. -- Nicole Castrale collected her first LPGA Tour title on Sunday by winning the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika.
All she had to do was top the No. 1 player in the game in a playoff.
Nicole Castrale
Nicole Castrale poses with the Ginn Tribute trophy and her husband/caddie. (Getty Images)
Castrale parred the first playoff hole to defeat Lorena Ochoa, who fell to 0-4 on the LPGA Tour in sudden death playoffs.
Castrale managed a 1-under 71 on Sunday while Ochoa could do no better than a 2-over 74. The pair finished regulation at 9-under-par 279 and headed back to the 18th at RiverTowne Country Club for the playoff.
Ochoa went first and badly pulled her tee shot into a hazard. Castrale split the fairway, then conservatively played to the center of the green, some 30 feet from the hole. Ochoa had to take a penalty drop, but hit a spectacular third shot 18 feet short of the stick.
Castrale cozied her birdie putt just right of the hole, then tapped in for par. Ochoa needed to hole her putt to extend the playoff, but the ball skimmed the left edge, but stayed above ground.
The title was Castrale's first and as is customary on the LPGA Tour, the beer and champagne shower followed thanks to Laura Diaz and Cristie Kerr.
'I don't know if it's quite hit me yet,' admitted Castrale, who pocketed $390,000 for the win. 'It was fun out there. I stayed patient and it worked out.'
Kerr was in the mix until a disastrous double-bogey at the 17th. She shot a one-over 73 for third place at minus-6.
Paula Creamer and Sarah Lee both shot rounds of 1-under 71 on Sunday to tie for fourth place at 5-under-par 283. Tour rookie Angela Park struggled to a 4-over 76 and took sixth at minus-3.
Castrale and Ochoa reached the playoff due to a combination of clutch putting from Castrale and some poor work by the No. 1 ranked player in the Rolex Rankings.
Castrale was solid throughout Sunday's final round with a bogey at the second and a 40-foot birdie putt at the sixth. Her only other birdie came at the par-5 11th until an important one later in the round.
Ochoa, who started the round with a three-shot lead, parred her first six holes before a bogey at the seventh. She rebounded with a 10-foot birdie putt at the eighth, which reclaimed her three-shot edge.
Ochoa lost a stroke with a bogey at the par-5 11th. It became a two-shot swing thanks to Castrale's birdie at the same hole, but Ochoa, now only one in front, gave herself some more chances.
She missed a 5-foot birdie putt at the 14th, but rolled in a birdie putt at the 15th from 12 feet.
Both players bogeyed the par-5 16th, so Ochoa walked to the 17th tee with a two-shot lead. Ochoa's nine-iron tee ball landed on the back fringe and she hammered her second 7 feet past.
Castrale spun her tee ball back to 12 feet and canned the birdie try to get within one. Ochoa missed her par putt and now the pair was tied with one to play.
'I knew I had to make that,' acknowledged Castrale. 'I expected Lorena to make par from there. Unfortunately she hit a good putt and it didn't go in. I made birdie.'
The two made somewhat tricky par saves at the 18th in regulation, then Castrale walked off with the victory.
Christina Kim (70), Heather Young (71), Mi Hyun Kim (73) and Angela Stanford (75) tied for seventh place at 2-under-par 286.
Tournament host Annika Sorenstam, who returned to action this week after missing time with a neck and back injury, shot a 4-over 76 on Sunday and tied for 36th place at plus-5.
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    Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

    Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

    “I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

    Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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    “We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

    Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

    “I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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    Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

    After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

    It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

    “A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

    “My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

    Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

    “I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

    Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

    Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

    “As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.