Annika Bounces Back in Quest for Record

By Associated PressMay 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The only thing Annika Sorenstam has to apologize for is her timing.
Thanks to a nifty 31 on the back nine Saturday, Sorenstam still has a chance to put her name in the LPGA record books once again by winning her sixth tournament in a row. For a while, it didn't even look like she would make the cut.
Winning six in a row, though, doesn't seem to mean all that much to Sorenstam. If it had, she wouldn't have taken five weeks off at a time she was blowing away the competition to go home to Florida and relax.
You could hardly blame Sorenstam, because there is little left that she has to prove.
She's shot a 59, won 59 times, wasn't afraid to mix it up with the men, and is a quarter of the way to her audacious goal of winning all four majors in one year.
One day, perhaps not too long from now, Sorenstam will become the winningest golfer ever, surpassing Kathy Whitworth's 88 wins. She's only 34 and, frighteningly enough for her competition, her best golf may not be behind her.
It's not like Sorenstam needs much else to add to her Hall of Fame plaque. But women's golf sure could have used her at the last three tournaments she decided to skip while taking a vacation from the tour.
While Sorenstam practiced with Tiger Woods and was seen watching a tennis tournament with his wife, Elin, tournament directors must have been kicking the furniture and swearing under their breath at her absence.
The LPGA tour struggles for recognition almost every week. But when its superstar decides to take such a long break, it diminishes the stature of her record-breaking attempt.
Only a handful of national media bothered to show up for this week's tournament, an indication that a streak that began last November wasn't nearly as interesting as the original five-win streak that Nancy Lopez electrified the golf world with as a 21-year-old rookie in 1978.
Lopez did hers in six weeks; Sorenstam has taken nearly six months.
If Sorenstam thought so little of the record that she skipped three tournaments since her win in March at the Nabisco Championship, it's hard to make a case for anyone else to get too excited about the streak.
Sorenstam had her reasons for taking a break after playing three tournaments to begin the year. She's going through a painful divorce, likes to do things other than play golf and wants to make sure she peaks for the majors.
Her real goal is winning the Grand Slam, something no woman has ever done and something far more improbable than winning six tournaments in a row.
But Sorenstam is the face of women's golf, propping up an LPGA tour filled with insular players who either have no clue on how to relate to fans or no idea that part of their job is to give people outside their immediate families a reason to care whether they make birdies or bogeys.
That showed Saturday when about 1,000 fans gathered around the first tee to cheer for Sorenstam. Those who followed her around the course pretty much ignored playing partners Carin Koch and Wendy Ward, but every time Sorenstam hit a nice shot there were big cheers and occasional shouts of 'Go Annika!'
Sorenstam has warmed in recent years to fans, partly shedding her natural Swedish reserve to try and relate to them more. She smiles when she hits a good shot, shows emotion when she doesn't and generally seems to make her best effort to be accessible.
During the third round of her win at the Nabisco, Sorenstam was on the back nine and making a runaway of the season's first major when she was forced to back off a shot when a marshal issued a loud - and late - command for the crowd to quiet
Sorenstam's caddie admonished the marshal, but Sorenstam wasn't bothered.
'That's OK,' she told the marshal. 'I'm happy.'
On the golf course, she has plenty to be happy about. Before her opening 76 this week, she had played 43 straight rounds of competitive golf at par or better. And she is arguably more intimidating to the women of the LPGA tour than Woods is these days on the men's tour.
There was ample proof of that Saturday when Sorenstam began making birdies on the back nine to leapfrog three quarters of the field and move within shouting distance of Cristie Kerr.
'I think they know I'm here,' Sorenstam said. 'I just don't know how badly they know I'm here.'
They'll find that out Sunday, now that Sorenstam's competitive juices are flowing again. There's nothing she likes better than winning, and you've got to like her chances to at least make a run at it on a 36-hole day when her fitness could make a difference.
Still, this record would be only a footnote in Sorenstam's magical career, something she probably already recognizes.
Like Woods, she wants to win majors, and win them in bunches. That means a busy summer ahead as she chases a goal no woman has ever accomplished.
To Sorenstam, that's more important than just another entry in the LPGA record book.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - Michelob Ultra Open

  • Full Coverage - Michelob Ultra Open

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

    Getty Images

    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.