Annika Feeling Better Ready for Match Play

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Annika Sorenstam is too busy trying to get her game together to worry about reclaiming the top spot in women's golf.
 
'Right now, I'm not really trying to chase anybody,' Sorenstam said Wednesday before her rainy pro-am round in the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
 
'I'm just trying to get into the swing of things. I'm just trying to get back to me and the way I played. I'm not really at the level I know I can be.'
 
She's making her fourth start after missing two months because of a bulging disk in her back and ruptured disk in her neck. The 37-year-old Swede took last week off after tying for 32nd in the U.S. Women's Open.
 
'With the competition being so tough today, you just can't take a break like I have for two months not competing and just kind of come out and compete with just a few hundred balls in practice rather than the thousand that I need.'
 
After winning the State Farm Classic last September for her 69th LPGA Tour title, she's winless in her past 11 starts and has dropped to third in the world behind top-ranked Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb.
 
'I've got to think long term,' Sorenstam said. 'I have no pain. I feel great and I'm starting to swing the club a little better. So give me a few weeks and I'm going to start chasing some people.'
 
In two weeks, she'll get to test her game at St. Andrews when the Women's British Open makes its first stop at the Old Course.
 
'I think it's a big, big, big deal,' Sorenstam said. 'It's a huge step for women's golf to go there. ... I'm going to enjoy every minute.'
 
Set to open against Katherine Hull on Thursday on the rain-soaked Wykagyl Country Club course, Sorenstam won stroke-play titles in 1998 and 2000 on the traditional layout recently renovated by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.
 
'I love the changes. I think it's fantastic,' Sorenstam said. 'They took down a lot of trees. You can see the course a bit more. They totally changed the look and feel around the greens. ... The way they set up the course this year we're a lot farther back. I think this sets up fantastic for this format.'
 
She reached the quarterfinals the past two seasons at Hamilton Farm in New Jersey, losing to Candie Kung in 2005 and Juli Inkster last year. If Sorenstam wins her first three matches, she could face Kraft Nabisco winner Morgan Pressel in the quarters.
 
'One match is like one tournament,' Sorenstam said. 'It's just one day at a time.'
 
Pressel, seeded sixth, will open against Birdie Kim, the South Korean player who holed out from a bunker to beat her in the 2005 U.S. Open. Sorenstam and Pressel are in the lower bracket along with the second-seeded Webb and seventh-seeded Suzann Pettersen, the LPGA Championship winner.
 
In the upper bracket, U.S. Open champion Cristie Kerr, seeded fourth, tops the most interesting quarter of the draw.
 
Kerr will open against Amy Hung and could face defending champion Brittany Lincicome in the third round and fifth-seeded Se Ri Pak in the fourth.
 
'You just try and focus on your own game as much as you can and not really let what the other person does affect you,' Kerr said.
 
Pak, coming off her fifth Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic victory Sunday, will start play against Beth Bader, with the winner facing the Natalie Gulbis-Christina Kim survivor. Lincicome will open against Carin Koch.
 
Also in the upper bracket, Ochoa, the 2006 Sybase Classic winner at Wykagyl, will face South African teenager Ashleigh Simon.
 
The tour leader with three victories, Ochoa could play eighth-seeded Paula Creamer, the 2005 Sybase champion, in the quarterfinals.
 
'I love the place,' Ochoa said. 'I like my chances.'
 
Divots:
Heavy rain wiped out the morning pro-am. Nearly 1 1/2 inches fell on the course Wednesday. ... After single rounds Thursday and Friday, the third round and quarterfinals will be played Saturday and the semifinals and final are set for Sunday. ... The winner will receive $500,000 from the $2 million purse. ... Inkster (1992), Sherri Steinhauer (1999 and 2004) and Michelle Redman (1997) also have won at Wykagyl. ... Marisa Baena won the inaugural event in 2005. ... The tour will be in Europe the next two weeks for the Evian Masters in France and the Women's British Open. ... The LPGA Tour acquired the Duramed Futures Tour on Wednesday. The 27-year-old developmental circuit has been the LPGA Tour's official developmental tour since 1999.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.