Sports Outside the Beltway

Lorena Ochoa wins the ADT Championship

What looked like a rout, suddenly became a close tournament. Then a magnifiicent approach shot capped off a magnificent season for the World’s #1 female golfer.

Only days after her 26th birthday, Lorena Ochoa got a million dollar birthday present. Taking the ADT Championship with a final round 68 to win by two shots . Natalie Gulbis finished a solo second with a round of 70. Paula Creamer finished third after shooting an even par round of 70.

Out of her million dollar winnings, Lorena will give $100,000 for flood relief in the State of Tabasco.

Lorena will make other donations.

“I don’t have a number, but whatever we(her foundation) need. Sí, just we’ll see. I want to make sure—we have plans to buy land and to start construction at the high school, so I want to find good things to do with the money.”

Lorena got things going early on Sunday morning. On the second hole, Super Mex hit a 50 degree wedge from 85 yards to fifteen feet. Lorena made the putt to go one under for the day.

A wedge to ten feet on the third, and a 7-wood to six feet on the fifth also resulted in birdies. After another birdie on six, Lorena was four under par for the tournament and four shots up.

Noone would get closer than three before hole 17. The seventh hole jumping up and grabbing several of Lorena’s closest pursuers. The par 3 hole playing an average of 4.75 strokes for the day.

Lorena seemed to be on cruise control till the 17th hole. Her 8-iron tee shot of 155 yards going over the green but without finding water. It took four more shots for Lorena to find the bottom of the hole.

By the time she walked off the 17th green, Lorena’s lead was down to one. Natalie Gulbis, playing in the same group as Lorena, had made birdie after hitting her tee shot to fifteen feet on 17.

Lorena admitted to being mad when she got to the 18th tee box. Then her tee shot cut it dangerously close to the water on the right side, landing in the rough. Natalie after a good drive, hitting her 3 rescue second shot to some fifteen feet from the hole.

Considering Lorena still faced a tough shot to a difficult hole, some may have thought Gulbis was thinking of a win but Natalie wasn’t.

“Playoff did. Lorena can make par from anywhere. But I thought I just wanted a chance to be able to make that putt to push it to a playoff. That’s what I was hoping for. I didn’t even consider that I would be able to win it outright.”

Lorena then smoothly hit her 6-iron approach shot to two feet from the cup. Effectively sealing her eigth win of the year.

Eight wins, almost five million and earnings, a major championship and player of the year. What did Lorena have to say afterwards when asked what’s next.

“No, there is always room to improve. I want to get much better in my short game, especially 100 yards, 110, 100, 90, 80. I hit them just okay, maybe 10 feet. But at the same time with a 9 iron, 8 iron, 7 iron, I need to improve on my short distances.”

An improved Lorena Ochoa is a scary proposition. A deserving winner for a wonderful tournament. Now we have to wait three months till the LPGA 2008 begins. I can hardly wait.

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Is the 17th at Trump International unfair?

Hounddog seems to think so-

I think the tournament director needs to rethink that 17th hole. You start with a long par-3 – today it played 177 yards – with a lake on the right and a lateral water hazard on the left. Despite having no bailout option, I don’t really have a problem with that setup. But constructing greenside waterfalls which create a roaring noise to disturb one’s putting, add in a green which typically gives players double-breaking putts with a high Stimpmeter reading, put the hospitality tent right next to the freaking tee box (from which a cell phone interrupted Karrie Webb’s tee shot today) and tack on the typical fall Florida winds…let’s see, how about we let the spectators walk in front of the tee box area and toss the occasional smoke bomb during a player’s backswing next year, just so we can have a par-3 hole average more than four and destroy several players championship hopes.

Lets look at how 17 played on Saturday.

Ochoa 3
Creamer 3
Gulbis 2
MH Kim 3-2
Christina Kim 2-3
Kerr 3
S Lee 3
Webb 3

The ADT’s final eight players played the 17th three under par yesterday. For the week they played the hole in three over par. If you remove Ochoa’s quadruple bogey on Thursday, the top eight played the hole in one under.

As for the rest of the final sixteen

Miyazato 3-3-5
Matthew 2-3-4
Gustafson 3-3-5-4
Inkster 3-3-5
Castrale 3-3-3-3
SH Lee 5-3-3
Pressel 3-3-3
Pettersen 4-3-3

In all the top sixteen played the 17th in 13 over par for the week for a stroke average of 3.2. Seven looks like the terror hole to me, not 17.


Nine holes with Cristie Kerr and Christina Kim

I walked nine holes this morning with the defending US Open Champ and the bubbly one.

Christina and Cristie were minus one for the first five holes. Of the two, Cristie’s round was smoother. She made a birde on two, and hit all greens but #1. Christina missed a short birdie putt on three. Her drive on the fourth found a fairway bunker but Christina knocked her second shot to two feet. Christina made the putt a few minutes to later to go to minus one.

It was at the 6th hole that both players began to unravel. Cristie after hitting the par four in two, three putted. Christina hit too much club, and went over the green on her approach. Her chip came up short and Christina missed a ten footer for par.

On seven both Christie and Christina hit their tee shots in the water. Both finishing the hole with double bogeys.

Number seven I think is the most unrecognized hole on the course. Whereas the 17th waterfall hole gets the attention, I think seven plays equally difficult or close to it. Look at these scores on seven today.

C Kim 5
C Kerr 5
MH Kim 6
S Lee 6
Webb 7

Two double bogeys, two triple bogeys, and one quad. When you add in the other players score, the par 3 7th played at an average of 4.75 strokes. Ouch.

With nine holes to go, Lorena Ochoa looks to be in command. -5 for the day and five shots up on her closest pursuers.


The unknown ADT finalist- Sarah Lee

Out of today’s final eight players, only Sarah Lee didn’t speak to the press after yesterday’s final round. When her round finished, Lee looked destined for a playoff. In the end Sarah made the cut with a shot to spare.

The general information about Sarah is-

She is 28 years old
Never won on the LPGA Tour
Shot a 60 in the first round of the 2004 Welch’s/Fry’s Championship
Sarah has had several chances to win but been unable to close. This year’s Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill being the latest example. After opening 63-68, Sarah could only come in solo third.

Things most people don’t know about Sarah are-

She was born in England to South Korean parents.
What is the explanation for her change of name from Jung Yeon to Sarah
That Sarah likes to collect baseball caps.
She is one of the few South Korean LPGA golfers to have graduated college.

Sarah’s best finish this year was a solo second at Sybase. There Sarah opened 66-69-65, giving her a two-shot lead over Lorena Ochoa going into the final round. Sarah then shot a final round 73 to lose by three shots.

Yesterday Sarah, playing with Karrie Webb as she will be today also, shot a steady round of 70. Sarah has improved her score every day(74-71-70) so far this tournament. The only other finalist who can claim the same is Karrie Webb(76-70-68).

Out of today’s finalists, Sarah will be the last person anyone will be expecting to win. I wouldn’t argue with that statement, for Sarah is the only non-winner left today. However I remind people of two things.

Sarah’s ability to shoot very low numbers(Her 60 in 2004)


No one predicted Julieta Granada to take home the million dollars last year.


Eighteen holes for a million dollars

Today at 9:30 a.m. 4th round play will begin at the ADT Championship. The two CKs, Christina Kim and Cristie Kerr will be the first to tee off. Sometime before 3 p.m. barring a playoff, we should have a winner.

Paula Creamer had the low rounds of the day yesterday. Both shooting 66. However no one has been able to put back to back days with the low round of the tournament. With scores resetting today again, we have an eight way tie for the lead.

Its a great leaderboard. 1st(Lorena Ochoa), 3rd(Paul Creamer), 4th(Mi Hyun Kim), and 6th(Kerr) on the money list have all made the final eight. The weather outside is Sunny and pleasant. Its a great day to win a million.


Another winless year for Ai Miyazato

Going into the 2006 LPGA year, Japan’s Ai Miyazato and Morgan Pressel got most of the mention when it came to who would be rookie of the year. As I noted earlier today, Seon Hwa Lee upstaged both Pressel and Miyazato. I never understood why Seon Hwa flew under golf writer’s radar screens. She was only the leading money winner on the Futures tour money list in 2005.

Pressel, Lee, and Miyazato all missed the cut today. Ai had one of today’s biggest turnarounds. She was -3 through 12 holes and then proceeded to play the last six holes in five over par. A double bogey five on the 17th eliminating Ai from contention.

Note- I saw some of Ai’s round today. She seems popular in the US, for today there was a big gallery following Ai and her playing partner. The other player was Natalie Gulbis. None of those golf fans were there to see golf’s calendar girl, right?

Ai has been tremendously successful in her native Japan. She won 11 JLPGA events in 2004 and 2005 alone. It just hasn’t translated into LPGA success yet. Fellow countrywoman Momoko Ueda managed to upstate Ai, but winning the Mizuno Classic just two weeks ago.

The last great Japanese golfer on the LPGA was Ayako Okamoto. There’s been a gap since, but I think Ai will reach the winner’s circle in 2008. I hope this prediction is better than my 2007 Women’s British Open prediction. Or why those fans were following Ai and Natalie today.

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Rough Day for Morgan Pressel

The day after shooting a 65, the Boca Raton native shot a 73 to miss the cut by two shots.

Morgan had a good front nine, ending with a 35, but her one lapse was a six on the par five 3rd. The 3rd is a birdie hole.

It was at hole 13 Morgan began to have trouble. Three bogeys, one a three putt from ten feet, doomed Morgan’s round. Afterwards Morgan wasn’t happy with her play, but it wasn’t her putting.

“No, ball striking made a big difference. I don’t even know, but I probably barely hit six greens. I never had opportunities to make birdies.”

Morgan hit only 33 greens in regulation. Out of the Sunday qualifiers, only Cristie Kerr hit less than 36, her total being 35.

Even with a win this year, Morgan felt sad because of today’s results. When asked how she would look back at 2007, even after being reminded of how she won a major, Morgan replied.

“It was a season of ups and downs and it’s sad that it’s over and it’s sad that it’s ending this way. ”

The ADT was just one tournament. Morgan will have more chances to win.


ADT Championship 3rd Round Cut

Six players finished -3 or better

Paula Creamer
Lorena Ochoa
Karrie Webb
Cristie Kerr
Natalie Gulbis
Sarah Lee

A four way playoff was needed to determine the final two players

Sophie Gustafson- Bogey-out
Mi Hyun Kim- Birdie-in
Nicole Castrale- Par-Bogey-out
Christina Kim- Par-Birdie-in

So Christina and Mi Hyun Kim are the final players for Sunday’s Championship round. The winner gets 1 million dollars.

The pairings for tomorrow

930- Cristie Kerr
Christina Kim

940- Karrie Webb
Sarah Lee

950- Paula Creamer
Mi Hyun Kim

1000- Lorena Ochoa
Natalie Gulbis

Three Major champions- Ochoa, Webb, Kerr,
Winners in 2007- Ochoa, Webb, Kerr, Gulbis, Creamer, MH Kim
Only non-winner in LPGA career- Sarah Lee


Assorted ADT Championship notes

*- 9 of today’s 16 qualifiers are international players. Countries represented are- Mexico, Sweden, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Scotland.

*- 3 of last year’s top four contenders for Rookie of the year, are playing this weekend. 2006 ROY Seon Hwa Lee, Morgan Pressel, and Ai Miyazato. On the other hand no 2007 Rookie made it to today’s round.

Last year Seon Hwa upstaged the much more heralded Miyazato and Pressel. Can Ai or Morgan turn the tables at this week’s ADT?

*- Angela Stanford broke her putter yesterday after throwing the club in a moment of frustration on the 1st hole. She finished the round using either a sand wedge or 3-wood as a putter.

*- One of the final 16 is Sarah Lee. Interesting name, for Jung Yeon while South Korean was born in England. I suppose that’s where her nickname came from. Either that, or it could be the fact there are too other Lees with the initials JY on the LPGA Tour.

I certainly have a question if Sarah appears in the press tent this weekend.

*- Out of the final 16 only Sarah Lee and Ai Miyazato haven’t won on the LPGA Tour before. Sophie Gustafson has the longest dry spell of any former winner. Her last triumph was the 2003 Samsung World Championship.

*- After today’s final round is completed, the field will be cut again to the low eight. As happened yesterday, holes 17 and 18 will be used for any playoff.

*- Weather for today appears to be about the same as yesterday. Sunny but cool(Well for South Florida). At present there is little if any wind.


Morgan Pressel’s 2nd round 65 low score for the ADT

It may have been the result of a change of putting methods. Going from a left hand low to a conventional putting grip. During yesterday’s round Morgan made eight birdies.

Hole 3, 482-yard par 5: birdie – chip from short of green to 3 feet
Hole 4, 364-yard par 4: birdie – 7-iron to two feet
Hole 6, 335-yard par 4: birdie – 50-degree wedge to 12 feet
Hole 10, 388-yard par 4: birdie – 6-iron to 12 feet
Hole 11, 158-yard par 3: birdie – 4-hybrid on the tee to 15 feet
Hole 12, 531-yard par 5: birdie – 6-iron to 15 feet, on the fringe
Hole 14, 374-yard par 4: birdie – 7-iron to two feet
Hole 15, 494-yard par 5: birdie – 60-degree wedge to 15 feet

Morgan’s only blemish was a bogey at the par 4 13th.

An excellent round, put good play with the woods and irons may be just as much responsible for the 65.

Morgan, who is from nearby Boca Raton, was asked if its comfortable being a hometown favorite or if it adds more pressure. She replied-

You know, it’s tough playing in front of your friends and your family. It’s fun, it’s great, I love doing it. But it’s also hard because they’re all cheering for you so hard and they want to see you do well.

Morgan had a big gallery yesterday and today’s is certain to be even be larger. She tees off with Mi Hyun in today’s final pairing at 11:30 a.m.

Remember all scores reset today. So in actuality with have a sixteen way tie for the lead.


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