Annika Finds Ways to Motivate

By Associated PressJune 8, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 McDonaldWILMINGTON, Del. -- Goals are still hard to find for Annika Sorenstam.
 
Challengers are not.
 
The LPGA Championship was supposed to be the second stop on her way to the Grand Slam. Having accomplished just about everything else in women's golf, Sorenstam went searching for motivation and settled on a goal of winning all four majors in the same year. No professional, male or female, had ever done that.
 
Instead, Sorenstam had her worst tournament of the year in the first major. She tied for 13th in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which only raised more questions about how soon the 33-year-old Swede would call it a career.
 
But since that crushing loss, a familiar motivation has returned. With so many young faces starting to emerge on the LPGA Tour, Sorenstam still wants to show everyone who's the boss.
 
'Yes. You got it,' she agreed Tuesday before a practice round at DuPont Country Club.
 
It appears - for now, anyway - that she has some serious competition.
 
The winner at the Kraft Nabisco was Grace Park, a 25-year-old who has threatened to become a star the last five years and is just now starting to play to her potential.
 
Park closed with a 67 in the final round last year at the McDonald's LPGA Championship and lost in a playoff to Sorenstam. Along with winning her first major, Park has three other runner-up finishes and a third this year.
 
Se Ri Pak, who has been trying to keep up with Sorenstam the last three years, won the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill and earned enough points for the Hall of Fame, despite being only 26.
 
Lorena Ochoa, the 22-year-old from Mexico, won her first LPGA event this year and has finished out of the top 10 only twice in nine tournaments. And a victory last week by Karrie Webb, the 30th of her career, might be a sign that she is ready to renew her rivalry with Sorenstam.
 
That's something Sorenstam has been lacking - a rival.
 
As the LPGA Tour heads into the heart of its schedule - three majors in the next eight weeks, along with the $2.1 million Evian Masters in France - Sorenstam no longer has such a firm grip on the top.
 
She has a $135,000 lead over Park on the money list, a slim margin considering Sorenstam won't play nearly as many tournaments this year. She leads Park by a mere 2.58 points in the Player of the Year race.
 
'When you get close on the money list, player of the year, I want to be the best,' Sorenstam said.
 
She is still driven by the majors.
 
Despite 51 career victories, Sorenstam has won only six majors - as many as Webb, one fewer than Juli Inkster. She would like to finish with 10 majors, although that would be five short of the record held by Patty Berg.
 
'If I'm still playing and I continue to feel good, maybe I'll try that,' she said. 'But those records to me, I just find it very hard to compare golf 20, 30, 40 years ago to what it is today because the competition is so different. These are my personal goals. If I turn out to be in one of the record books, I'll be happy.
 
'But it's not something that keeps me going.'
 
The LPGA Tour will have its own world ranking at the start of next season, and Sorenstam will almost certainly be No. 1. As Tiger Woods has shown on the PGA Tour, players don't give that up without a fight.
 
Even though her focus is more squarely on the majors than ever before, Sorenstam was asked if she would settle for two majors but not winning the money title or player of the year.
 
'Well,' she said with a smile, 'I am very competitive. I do want to win the money list, too. I'm greedy.'
 
The next two months will determine if Sorenstam remains the most dominant player in golf, or whether Pak, Park, or anyone else can start closing the gap.
 
Sorenstam has won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average the last three years. The last two seasons, she finished a full stroke better than Pak.
 
The Swede has surpassed $2 million in earnings the last three years - no one else has broken that benchmark - and finished more than $1 million higher than Pak two years ago.
 
The question now is how long she can keep it up?
 
'I always felt I had a challenge to find new goals and keep me motivated and keep me practicing, because I'm getting to the point in my career where I feel very, very satisfied with what I've achieved,' she said. 'Therefore, the majors are what I want.'
 
The majors are what everyone remembers, so that's an appropriate goal. After failing to win the Nabisco, Sorenstam set her sights on winning three majors this year. She has never won more than two in a single season.
 
Still, there is nothing that motivates an athlete more than hearing footsteps.
 
Park not only is neck-and-neck with Sorenstam for player of the year, she is the only woman capable of achieving Sorenstam's goal - winning the Grand Slam.
 
'I love to see if I can win when I want to win, especially this week,' Sorenstam said. 'That's what keeps me motivated nowadays is a challenge.'
 
She might finally have one.
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - McDonald's LPGA Championship

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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.