Annika Looking for Three Straight

By Associated PressNovember 15, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam has three wins in official LPGA events this year, nearly $2 million in tour earnings and still has a stranglehold on the world's No. 1 women's ranking.
So how would she assess her season?
'Disappointing,' Sorenstam said.
To some players, that would be ridiculous. But Sorenstam has grown accustomed to dominance, which simply wasn't there for her in 2006. Her five-year grip on the LPGA's player of the year award is gone, the title wrested away by Mexico's Lorena Ochoa. Sorenstam almost certainly won't win the Vare Trophy for the seventh time either, with that one sure to be wrapped up by Ochoa this weekend, too.
There is one award she can still take this year: the money title, although its status is now diminished in Sorenstam's eyes. Yet if she wins the ADT Championship at Trump International for the third straight year, she'd claim the gaudy, LPGA-record $1 million first prize and eclipse her single-season earnings record ($2,863,904) set in 2002.
'I know I'm not going to get player of the year and I know I'm not going to get the Vare Trophy,' Sorenstam said Wednesday. 'So, the money list, if I can win that -- whether it means anything or nothing -- I think it'd be great.'
Sorenstam is among many players who believe the huge payday that awaits the winner Sunday shouldn't entirely count as official money. The $1 million first prize doubles the previous largest in LPGA history, and is roughly five times bigger than the winner's check at an average tour stop.
The ADT Championship is a 32-woman field, which gets cut in half for Saturday's third round. After that, it gets trimmed again, down to eight -- and the scores get wiped away, setting up a one-round, big-money shootout.
And it's virtually winner-take-all, with second place worth $100,000 and third $20,500.
'Golf's normally decided over four rounds and this year it's decided, really, over one,' said Karrie Webb, a two-time winner of this event. 'It makes for an exciting finish and none of us have ever played for a first-place, $1 million check. So I think everyone's going to be very nervous about it ... but the person who wins won't be complaining at all.'
Even the tournament host said he's not certain what to think of the format.
'We've had a tremendously successful tournament here, so I'm not sure that I like it,' real estate mogul Donald Trump said after dropping off Sorenstam from his golf cart following Wednesday's pro-am. 'I'll let you know, probably at the end of Sunday. I'm really not sure.'
Webb was the first LPGA player to crack the $1 million single-season earnings mark, going over that plateau in 1996 by winning this event (then known as the ITT Tour Championship) and claiming the $150,000 winner's check.
Now, for the first time, an LPGA player will make seven figures in four days.
'It's a tremendous milestone,' LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said, 'but it took too long.'
Still, it's going to be exciting, even for Sorenstam, whose career earnings on the LPGA Tour alone total more than $20 million.
She won only one of her first nine events in 2006, then captured the U.S. Women's Open. And although she says she's ready to go skiing and for the year to end, Sorenstam is playing her best golf of the year now with a win, two seconds and two thirds in her last five events.
And she's vowing to be better in 2007, plus knows another win would serve as a fine springboard into the offseason.
'It's tough to be at the top and always find new ways to practice and always find new motivation and, you know, kind of pave the way,' Sorenstam said. 'This year, I haven't really done a good job of that. But this winter, I'm going to try to find new ways to get back to where I want to be.'
Cristie Kerr was given the LPGA Komen Award for her work raising money for breast cancer. Kerr's mother, a breast cancer survivor, surprised her by giving her the award. ... The 2007 LPGA schedule was released Wednesday, with no announcement on the site of next year's ADT Championship. Talks are apparently ongoing. 'They want to come back very badly,' Trump said, adding that he's easy to negotiate with. Wherever it is played, the purse ($1.55 million) and first-prize payout will remain the same. ... Four players tied for ninth at last year's ADT, each taking home $22,750 -- or $2,250 more than this year's third-place finisher will pocket. ... Ochoa's birthday was Wednesday, and she was surprised with a cake after her pro-am round.
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.