Annika Seeks Sweep Wie Some Respect

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Fields OpenKAPOLEI, Hawaii -- It took Annika Sorenstam 17 months to hoist a trophy again. Shes now seeking her second title in as many weeks and third straight victory in Hawaii while rising in the rankings.
 
Fresh off a two-stroke victory in the season-opening SBS Open, Sorenstam is trying to complete the Hawaiian sweep at the Fields Open, which starts Thursday. The victory was the 70th of her LPGA Tour career and first since September 2006
 
Im thrilled and Im happy, and that gives you motivation to continue and work hard, said Sorenstam, the 37-year-old Swedish star who had an injury-shortened season in 2007 where she was winless for the first time since her rookie season in 1994.
 
The win vaulted Sorenstam two spots to No. 2 in the world behind Lorena Ochoa.
 
Im not complaining, said Sorenstam, who moved past Suzann Pettersen and Karrie Webb.
 
Ochoa, who will start her season next week in Singapore in the HSBC Womens Champions, still leads Sorenstam by a large margin behind her impressive eight-win season in 2007.
 
Theres a lot of catching up to do, Sorenstam said. Im just going to focus on the things that I can control, which is my golf and my swing.
 
Sorenstam was limited to 13 events because of neck and back injuries and managed six top-10s finishes. Her scoring average of 71.27 was the highest and her earnings ($532,718) the lowest since she was a rookie.
 
The 54-hold event at Ko Olina also features Michelle Wies 2008 debut.
 
Wie, also coming off a trying year, is now healthy, stronger and eager for a strong showing at Ko Olina, where she missed a playoff by a shot in 2006, when she was a high school junior.
 
I feel good about this year, she said. I feel like everything is coming back into place.
 
Wie injured both wrists last year but kept playing, and struggling. She made only three cuts. In nine starts, she withdrew twice and only broke par twice in 19 rounds against women.
 
Sorenstam recommended that Wie take care of her body first for her long-term success.
 
Golf is important and its a big part of my life. You go as much as you can but you have to remember'and I can tell you from last year'if youre not healthy, you cannot do what you want to do, Sorenstam said. I dont know what shes doing rehab-wise, working out-wise. But you really need to take care of yourself.
 
On Tuesday, Wie said she has accepted that her injured wrists will never be 100 percent again but is as good as it can be.
 
The 18-year-old from Honolulu is starting the season against the women for the first time in five years. She previously opened at the PGA Tours Sony Open where she nearly made the cut as a 14-year-old when she shot a 68. But she didnt play Waialae this year.
 
Its definitely going to be an emotion-filled tournament and its going to be a lot of fun, Wie said.
 
Many people are curious to see how Wie performs this year.
 
Its got to be small steps, Wies swing coach David Leadbetter said. In the middle of 2006, she looked like she had a chance to win every tournament she was entering. Shes going to have to work her way back. Shes going to have to get to the point where she builds her confidence, she gets her belief back and probably the respect of a lot of people, too.
 
Sorenstam might on that list.
 
Wie withdrew from last years Ginn Tribute, hosted by Sorenstam, after shooting 14 over through 16 holes, saying she aggravated a wrist injury.
 
Wie said she withdrew because she tweaked the injury and not because of an LPGA Tour rule that bans non-tour members for the year if they shoot 88 or higher. Wie was two bogeys from that scenario when she stopped.
 
Two days later, Wie was hitting balls on the range, drawing sharp words from Sorenstam.
 
On Wednesday, Sorenstam said she wasnt sure if Wie would receive another invitation to the tournament, or even if the teen had requested one.
 
When asked if all was smoothed about between the two, Sorenstam said she hasnt talked to Wie.
 
So its not (about) being smooth or not, she said. Im just minding my own business. Its nothing I walk around thinking about. She has her career and I have mine. Thats kind of how it is. I respect her as a golfer and I know she has a lot of talent and I wish her best.
 
Last week, Sorenstam made her first appearance in Hawaii since winning the 2002 LPGA Takefuji Classic at Waikoloa. At the event, a towering 12-year-old girl made her LPGA Tour debut through a qualifier. Wie missed the cut by three strokes.
 
A lot of things have happened since then, Sorenstam said.
 
Last year, Stacy Prammanasudh won her second LPGA Tour title at Ko Olina, leading wire-to-wire en route to a one-stroke victory over Jee Young Lee.
 
Prammanasudh is paired with Sorenstam and Japans Ai Miyazato for the first two rounds. Scores should be low if the winds stay down on the resort course with generous fairways.
 
You can make birdies from 50 yards off the fairway, Prammanasudh said. On a golf course like this, you really dont know who you anticipate playing well. Obviously, (Sorenstam) has won 70 times. Theres a reason for that. But it is anybodys golf course.
 
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”