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This week in golf

Teeing Off

June 28, 2007|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Five things to keep an eye on this weekend on the pro golf scene:

1. Is this the week the top-ranked female player in the world wins her first major?

That's Lorena Ochoa's task when she shows up at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club for the $3.1-million U.S. Women's Open.

For some, it's hard to believe that a player can reach No. 1 without having won a major, but Ochoa did it, taking advantage of a void at the top created by Annika Sorenstam's slow-but-steady decline.

At least Ochoa seems to have some momentum on her side as she shows up in Southern Pines, N.C. She beat In-Kyung Kim in a playoff over the weekend at the Wegman's LPGA.

Ochoa said she was trying to remain patient and that her major breakthrough will come eventually: "I can only tell you I really, really want to win a major. I know I'm more prepared. I have more experience."

At the 2005 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, Ochoa was in the hunt until the 72nd hole, where she chunked her tee shot into the water and made quadruple bogey. Birdie Kim won. Ochoa took herself out of it in last year's Open with a 77-75 finish and was 20th at Newport Country Club. Sorenstam won.

In her two majors this year, Ochoa tied for 10th at the Kraft Nabisco and tied for sixth at the LPGA Championship.

(Side note: Counting Birdie and In-Kyung, there are a record 10 Kims in the U.S. Open field, breaking last year's mark of seven. The other Kims are Christina, Joo Mi, Kimberly, Mi Hyun, Song Hee, Su A, Youra and Young.)

2. According to the New York Post, Greg Norman and his wife, Laura, have reached an agreement on a divorce settlement over what is believed to be nearly $500 million in assets, but only after the attorney for the soon-to-be-former Mrs. Norman filed a motion to depose Chris Evert, who has been romantically linked with Norman.

3. Colin Montgomerie might not be much of a factor on the golf course these days, but he has been quite busy in the caddie department -- firing and hiring them.

Montgomerie canned Alastair McLean, his longtime caddie, just before the U.S. Open, hired local caddie Billy Goddard at Oakmont, then fired Goddard after shooting 82 in the second round.

At this week's French Open, Montgomerie is using Craig Connolly, who used to be Paul Casey's caddie.

He's obviously looking for help. Montgomerie, who turned 44 last week, has dropped to 48th in the rankings and is working on a three-year victory drought.

4. They're dropping names like flies on the PGA Tour. Following in the tournament footsteps of the Players (formerly the Players Championship), now we have the Barclays (formerly the Barclays Classic). Could be a trend. Wait until the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am gets wind of it.

5. Phil Mickelson, who gave his injured left wrist a rest after missing the cut at the U.S. Open, is adding next week's AT&T National, hosted by Tiger Woods, to his schedule. Mickelson also is playing the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and the British Open at Carnoustie.

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SCORING LEADERS

LPGA: 1. Lorena Ochoa, 69.83; 2. Paula Creamer, 70.67; 3. Sarah Lee, 70.88; 4. Stacy Prammanasudh, 70.95; 5. Suzann Pettersen, 70.98; 6. Morgan Pressel, 71.05; 7. Mi Hyun Kim, 71.15; 8. Shi Hyun Ahn, 71.35; 9. Jee Young Lee, 71.38; 10. Annika Sorenstam, 71.53.

* PGA: Tiger Woods, 68.69; 2. Vijay Singh, 69.13; 3. Phil Mickelson, 69.40; 4. Jose Coceres, 69.48; 5. Jim Furyk and Justin Rose, 69.58; 7. David Toms, 69.60; 8. Ernie Els, 69.61; 9. Robert Allenby, 69.65; 10. Scott Verplank, 69.69.

* Champions: 1. Loren Roberts, 68.84; 2. Jay Haas, 69.15; 3. Eduardo Romero, 69.39; 4. Brad Bryant, 69.56; 5. Denis Watson, 69.85; 6. Tom Purtzer, 69.88; 7. Hale Irwin, 70.05; 8. Mark O'Meara and Joe Ozaki, 70.08; 10. Tom Kite, 70.15.

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THE TOURNAMENTS

U.S. GOLF ASSN.

U.S. Women's Open

* When: Today-Sunday.

* Where: Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club (6,664 yards, par 71), Southern Pines, N.C.

* TV: ESPN (Today-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Ch. 4 (Saturday-Sunday, noon-3 p.m.).

* 2006 winner: Annika Sorenstam.

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PGA TOUR

Buick Open

* When: Today-Sunday.

* Where: Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club (7,127 yards, par 72), Grand Blanc, Mich.

* TV: Golf Channel (Today-Friday, noon-3 p.m., 5:30-8:30 p.m.) and Ch. 2 (Saturday-Sunday, noon-3 p.m.).

* 2006 winner: Tiger Woods (not playing).

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CHAMPIONS TOUR

Commerce Bank Championship

* When: Friday-Sunday.

* Where: Eisenhower Park, Red Course (7,021 yards, par 71), East Meadow, N.Y.

* TV: Golf Channel (Friday, 10 a.m.-noon, 9:30-11:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 7-9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 7-9 p.m.).

* 2006 winner: John Harris.

Associated Press

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STAT OF THE WEEK

The two highest 72-hole totals that still won PGA Tour events this year are probably not that surprising. They come from the first two majors: Zach Johnson's one-over 289 (71, 73, 76, 69) won the Masters, and Angel Cabrera's five-over 285 (69, 71, 76, 69) won the U.S. Open.

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