Ochoa Takes Control in Alabama

By Sports NetworkNovember 11, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 Mitchell Co. Tournament of ChampionsMOBILE, Ala. -- This close to clinching Player of the Year, all Lorena Ochoa did was shoot the best round of the week.
Ochoa fired a 9-under 63 on Saturday and began to pull away at the Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions, where a win would clinch the Mexican her first LPGA Player of the Year award.
She had an eagle, eight birdies and just one bogey in the third round to reach 14-under-par 202 for a five-shot lead over 2005 Rookie of the Year Paula Creamer.
'Well, it was an easy day today,' Ochoa said. 'If you think about it, the conditions were really tough, windy, and it got cold at the end. But it was one of those days that everything worked, and I was hitting the ball good.'
Already a five-time winner this season and the LPGA's leading money winner, Ochoa is now within tap-in range of becoming the first player other than Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb to win Player of the Year since 1996.
'This is a really big tournament for me because of that,' said Ochoa. 'I think it will be a lot easier to get that done, Player of the Year. But this is a tough tournament, and the golf course is playing tough.
'Tomorrow, I'm just glad I am in a good position. I'm glad that I'm in the final group. That was my goal, just to really have a chance to win the tournament.'
Webb, also a five-time winner this season, is second on the money list behind Ochoa, but declined an invitation this week. Sorenstam, having an off season by her standards, shunned the LPGA to play with the men in a PGA TOUR 'challenge season' event.
Which leaves Ochoa vying for the LPGA's top award without her closest two challengers around to stop her.
Not that it's been a breeze.
On Friday, Ochoa began her second round with a disastrous quadruple-bogey eight at the par-4 first hole. Since then, she has played 35 holes at 12 under par.
Saturday, Ochoa made a birdie at the third, an eagle at the par-5 fourth, and another birdie at the fifth. For her eagle at No. 4, Ochoa knocked a hybrid club within 2 feet.
She stumbled to her only bogey of the round at the par-3 eighth, where she landed short of the green and inside a bunker, but got that stroke back with a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at 9 under.
Ochoa went on another birdie run after that, making five over the next seven holes to pull away from the field. Her longest birdie putt during the stretch was from 13 feet at the 12th; the shortest was a 6-footer at the 14th.
On the 18th green, Ochoa had a birdie putt lip out. It would have moved her to 10-under par on the day and given her a share of the tournament record, held by Carin Koch (2002).
'My caddy, he caddied the 10 under, and he mentioned the 10 under,' Ochoa admitted. 'So I knew there was one before and I was trying hard to go 10 under. Actually, the last putt I had it just lipped out. It's a great day.'
Creamer, the first-round leader, had a 3-under 69 on Saturday and is alone in second place at 9-under 207.
'I'm still in the last group, which is nice,' Creamer said, reacting to Ochoa's round. 'She has been playing really well, so that will only help me motivate myself out there.'
Juli Inkster shot a 73 and is third at 7-under 209, and Stacy Prammanasudh is one shot further back at 210 following a 71.
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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.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

    The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

    The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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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.