Annika Ready for Major Test at McDonalds
Now she has her sights set on something major: this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship.
'To come to a tournament with a win, it doesn't get much better than that,' Srenstam said Sunday after winning the Kellogg-Keebler Classic by three strokes, a victory that wasn't nearly as close as it looked.
'Obviously the confidence is high, and I feel like I'm hitting the ball well,' she said. 'So I don't think I could have asked for better preparation for the (LPGA) championship.'
There's no question Srenstam is the best female golfer of her generation and, quite possibly, in history. Playing in just her 10th season, she's already sixth on the career list with 44 LPGA Tour victories. That's halfway to Kathy Whitworth's career record, a mark Whitworth needed 24 seasons to reach.
Srenstam won 11 LPGA Tour events last year and had top-10 finishes in 20 of the 23 she entered. She set or tied 20 records, including shattering the scoring mark with a 68.70 average.
But if there's a knock against her considerable game, it's her record in the majors.
Srenstam has won four major championships; two U.S. Opens and two Kraft Nabisco Championships. That's a fabulous record, if you're anyone else.
'Majors is where the history is, and a lot of people look at somebody's career depending on how they do in the majors,' Srenstam said. 'Obviously I'd like to win more majors. ... I'd like to do better there, and I believe I can.'
In fact, raising her game for the majors was part of the reason she decided to make her historic stop on the PGA Tour.
Because of the men's inherent length and power advantage, Srenstam focused her attention this year on her short game. At Colonial, she paid close attention to what the men did around the green and the shots they took.
'I wanted to see how the guys approach the game,' she said. 'I was there for five days, and I saw a lot and that experience I'm just trying to gather and learn and better myself.'
The hard work, as well as the tips she picked up at the Bank of America Colonial, are showing. When she had a plugged lie in the first round at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic, she knew what kind of shot she needed to make. She didn't execute it as well as she wanted, but the knowledge was there.
Or how about that beautiful flip shot she made out of the rough around the 14th green, putting the ball within 5 feet of the hole.
'Some of the shots I hit around the greens were the result of hard practice and I could really tell,' she said. 'It's coming slowly but surely, and that's all that matters.'
Then, of course, there was the suffocating attention. As the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour, Srenstam probably faced more pressure than any golfer -- any athlete, perhaps -- ever has. Every shot was televised, every move she made analyzed.
In just a matter of days, she became a one-name celebrity like Michael, Tiger and Shaq. But instead of wilting under the burden, Srenstam is thriving. She smiled and waved often to fans at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic, and it wasn't the throw-up-the-hand-with-a-brief-bob-of-the-head that most athletes do. She made eye contact as she looked at the galleries, taking time to scan the faces.
When one little boy yelled, 'Hi, Annika!' as she walked off the first tee Sunday, Srenstam looked directly at him, smiled and waved.
Contending for a major will seem easy after all this.
'To play under extreme pressure with everybody watching, everybody expecting -- well, not everybody. A lot of people didn't expect me to do anything, but some people expected me to do a lot,' she said. 'Everything together is what this is all about. I wanted to test myself, and I did.'
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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open
Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.
Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.
Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.
The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson
Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.
That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.
In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.
Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.
Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.
Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.
Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins
Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs
DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky
This and that: DJ and Paulina in 2017
Johnson adds fourth win of season, blows chance at fifth