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2015 ANA Inspiration, Round 1
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/3/15

After the first 18 holes of the first professional major of 2015, 26-year-old Morgan Pressel held the lead after shooting a 5-under-par 67. Last year, she decided to cut ties with her swing coach, Ron Stockton, but then re-engaged Stockton less than a month ago. In televising the tournament, Golf Channel reported these comments from the Florida native:

"I was just kind of lost after Singapore this year. I knew where I wanted my swing to get, but I was having trouble getting it there. So I called Ron to have him take a look at it, and it's just been really, really helpful. Very, very thankful that we've had the time to work on it.

"I had gotten it way inside going back, and coming out over the top. I was just struggling to get the club in front of me... I have a lot less movement on my golf ball, which has been helpful, where I can now aim pretty much right down the center of the fairways... I really, honestly, I had no idea where the golf ball was going early this year, so it's a big change."
Pressel remains the youngest-ever winner of a major championship — for now. In 2007, she triumphed at the Dinah Shore course, age 18 years, 10 months, and 9 days.

Tying a Record

But if Korean-born New Zealander Lydia Ko has her way, Pressel's record would fall on Sunday afternoon at Mission Hills. On Thursday, Ko shot a 1-under-par 71, giving her a share of Annika Sörenstam's record of 29 consecutive under-par rounds — the longest streak in all of professional golf. By comparison, the PGA Tour's longest streak is 26 rounds by Tim Petrovic.

Not surprisingly, Ko is not focused on that record as much as putting herself in position to capture her first major championship:

"Today, I was so busy trying to make up-and-downs, or trying to make a good two-putt or make some birdies, because I really wasn't hitting my driver well, and here the rough can get pretty thick. When you're in that position, a record was the last thing I was thinking about. But, yeah, Lexi [Thompson] and I made two really good birdies on eight, and I got back to under par."
That record may not quite stand with Byron Nelson's 11 consecutive tournament victories during World War II, but in terms of consistency, Ko and Sorenstam at least compare favorable with the 1979-1980 Philadelphia Flyers, who went an astounding 35 straight regular season games without a loss (25-0-10) — almost three months.

How cool and focused was Lydia Ko on Thursday? Not even a wind-blown hat from a spectator fazed her:



Timeless

However, Lydia Ko's 71 was eclipsed by 54-year-old U.S. Solheim Cup team captain Juli Inkster, who shot an impressive 69 to tie for third behind Pressel. Inkster has won this championship twice, back in 1984 and then again 1989 — eight years before Ko was born.

"I think what I like about the majors is you don't have to shoot 20 under or 18 under to win. If you can come in around par, 1, 2 or 3 under par, come Sunday you'll have a shot. So that's kind of why I like majors."
How well would the current version of Tiger Woods fare against Inkster on a tough layout like the Dinah Shore Tournament Course? Not well, we believe.

As for the depending champion, 20-year-old Lexi Thompson shot a level-par 72, tied for 32nd. 16-year-old Haley Moore, who qualified by winning the ANA Inspiration Junior Championship, was three-under after five holes, but gave it back. She shot an opening-round 73, putting her T-43 after the first round.

The LPGA and tournament organizers have one of the most creative sets of tee-box markers anywhere in professional golf:



Television coverage

Golf Channel's coverage of the ANA Inspiration runs until 3:00 p.m. EDT this afternoon, and then resumes at 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT this evening. On both Saturday and Sunday, Golf Channel will televise the championship from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT.


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[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
If I watch golf this weekend, it will be the Dinah, not the Houston Open. The women's games are closer to mine, though still light years better.
4/3/15
 
bkuehn1952 says:
UPDATE: Ms. Ko will have to start a new streak and just settle for tying the record for the moment.
4/5/15
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
Yeah. I'm not superstitious, but when all sorts of golf writers started talking about this, perhaps we should have expected the streak to get snapped. Ouchie.
4/5/15
 
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