Annika Gets the Hardware Wie Gets the Hype

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2005, 4:00 pm
PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam must be wondering what she has to do to get noticed.
All she did at the Samsung World Championship was remind anyone watching why she rules her world. Despite a double bogey on the last hole, she won by eight shots. And her eighth victory of the season -- no one else has won more than twice -- ensured Sorenstam will be the LPGA Tour player of the year for a record eighth time.
But she will have to settle for the hardware, not the hype.
Because even after one of her most dominant victories of the year, Sorenstam was a forgotten figure before the champagne was chilled.
The buzz at Bighorn was -- and still is -- about Michelle Wie.
Sorenstam walked quietly into the desert night with her 64th career victory.
Wie was surrounded by her parents, sponsors, family friends, security and tournament officials who ushered her past a dozen photographers into a golf cart after getting disqualified for taking a bad drop.
Sorenstam can understand getting ignored because of Tiger Woods, simply because people pay more attention to the PGA Tour and Woods has become the most famous athlete in the world.
The star power in women's golf now belongs to a teenager whose legend is built around power, potential and big dreams, with a marketing appeal that required a signature on two endorsement contracts to become the highest-paid woman in golf.
With the crystal trophy at her side, Sorenstam dropped subtle hints Sunday evening that winning the Samsung World Championship was important ``for many reasons,'' not the least of which was upstaging Wie. The 35-year-old Swede is comfortable with who she is and what she has done.
But every superstar has an ego, and Sorenstam is no different.
``I'm very competitive,'' she said. ``I want to play well when everyone is talking about someone else.''
Sorenstam is used to hearing her name mentioned when people talk about golf stardom, especially during her incomparable success over the last five years -- seven majors, 41 victories, nearly $12 million in earnings. And perhaps the most impressive statistic of all is finishing in the top three 63 percent of the time.
It's not always about her, of course.
``Tiger is the only one I can think of,'' Sorenstam said when asked the last time she wasn't part of the conversation. ``Maybe because this is the LPGA, it seems like it's been more about Michelle than Tiger.''
Wie brings notoriety, no matter what she does or where she goes.
People want to watch her.
The crowds at Bighorn typically are sparse because of the searing desert heat and a hilly course designed for golf carts, yet Wie had the largest galleries throughout the week. Even though she already had played 24 times on the LPGA Tour since she was 12, her professional debut was accompanied by the kind of hype Woods got when he turned pro.
She was on the cover of Fortune magazine. More than 225 media credentials were issued, so many that tournament officials had to expand the press tent. The room was packed whenever she was in there, especially late Sunday evening when she pulled off her most impressive feat at Bighorn -- standing firm about her drop while showing respect for the rule that got her disqualified.
Wie had to forfeit her fourth-place finish and first tournament paycheck of $53,126, although the money doesn't mean anything. She already has contract endorsements worth $8 million to $10 million, and it's not like Wie needs the LPGA earnings to get her card. She doesn't plan to join the LPGA Tour for two more years.
What she gained from her loss was even more exposure.
And that pushed Sorenstam further into the background of a sport that, for the moment, is all about Wie.
About the only people who truly appreciate Sorenstam are her peers.
``When Annika comes to play, Annika comes to win,'' Lorie Kane said after she finished her round Sunday, the scoreboard behind her on the 18th showing Sorenstam up by 10 shots early on the back nine. ``It doesn't matter who else is playing. When she tees it up, she means business. That's why she is one step ahead of all of us.''
Sorenstam insisted there was no message sent at Samsung, although 19-year-old Paula Creamer thought otherwise. Creamer already has taken some of the Swede's spotlight because of her moxie, her good looks, her stellar play at the Solheim Cup and the American flag next to her name.
She was a footnote at Bighorn, eight shots behind in second place.
``Annika was just probably sending a statement to the world saying, 'I'm still here. I'm still the best player,''' Creamer said.
Sorenstam says she is motivated when the sun rises, that no one pushes her harder than herself. Even so, she has noticed the strongest youth movement on the LPGA Tour in 25 years, and it has her attention.
``I know the young ones are going to take over eventually, there is no doubt about it,'' Sorenstam said. ``I love the position I'm in, and I'm not going to let it go too easily.''
It might keep her on the LPGA Tour long enough to break Kathy Whitworth's record of 88 career victories. Sorenstam is at No. 64, and at this rate could break the record in three years.
Whether anyone would notice remains to be seen.
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm