Annika in Skins Game
Organizers of the Skins Game are trying to decide whether to offer Sorenstam a sponsor's exemption into the original silly-season event, which is moving to the Trilogy at La Quinta in the California desert. It will be played Nov. 29-30.
'I haven't had any talks about it, but I would do a special event, something like that,' Sorenstam said last week at Pumpkin Ridge.
Offered an exemption, would she say yes?
'I would be flattered,' Sorenstam said. 'I would consider it, because it's not a PGA (Tour) event, and I won't do another PGA (Tour) event. But a special event like this is different.'
Mark O'Meara is the defending champion.
Tiger Woods has a contract with Disney-owned ABC Sports to play the occasional Skins Game, but he won't return this year. For one thing, it falls the week after the Presidents Cup in South Africa.
Mark Steinberg, Sorenstam's agent at IMG, confirmed the Skins Game was a possibility.
'It would not be inconsistent with what she has said about not playing another PGA Tour event,' Steinberg said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the 32-year-old Swede already is booked for one competition against the men -- the Tiger Skins in Singapore on Nov. 12-14.
Retief Goosen is the defending champion, although it was not clear if he'll play. Steinberg said the Tiger Skins will feature three other men.
Mark O'Meara is headed for Ireland for his usual week of practice before the British Open. Jim Furyk also plans a few days of links golf on the Emerald Isle with his father.
He's staying home.
For the first time in five years, Woods will prepare for the British Open by working on his swing in Florida. His home course at Isleworth is being rebuilt, but the range is open.
Olympia Fields asked Jim Furyk to come by the club for a reception last week when he was in town for the Western Open.
Little did he know what was in store -- honorary membership at the course where he won the U.S. Open for his first major.
'I just wanted to go down and kind of have a cocktail, speak with the members,' Furyk said Tuesday. 'It was a wonderful gesture. It's always nice to go back to a place where you've played well. But then to receive an honorary membership and really see everyone come out like that was a lot of fun.'
Will he ever put his membership to use? After all, the U.S. Open is booked through 2009, and it might be even longer before Olympia Fields gets another major.
'I do like Chicago, I just don't spend that much time there,' Furyk said. 'I would probably like to go in a little bit early before the event, or stay a little bit after, try to play some golf.'
The only thing more surprising than 14 teenagers at the U.S. Women's Open was someone with a master's degree.
Hilary Lunke graduated early from Stanford and decided to enter the master's program, setting her mind on being a lifelong amateur. That changed when the USGA allowed players to go through tour school and keep their amateur status if they didn't make it.
'I thought, 'That's a free swing in the batter's box.' If make it, I can turn pro. If not, I'll go back to the original plan of being an amateur,' Lunke said.
She was four shots away from being an amateur.
Lunke shot 6-over 294 to earn conditional status in October 2001, and since the LPGA Tour season didn't start until spring, she finished off her master's degree in sociology.
Despite playing only 10 tournaments last year, she was $7,198 short of earning her card by finishing in the top 125 on the money list. Her amateur status gone, the real pressure was returning to Q-school last year.
Those who aren't exempt have nowhere to play, because the Futures Tour has its own qualifying tournament -- and it was the same week as her wedding.
'I had the pressure of knowing if I missed the cut at Q-school, I was out of golf for a year,' Lunke said.
She made the cut by six strokes, then closed with a 70 to earn full status by two shots. Nine months later, she became the U.S. Women's Open champion.
Kelly Robbins has played on five Solheim Cup teams and is unbeaten in singles with a 4-0-1 record. She was resigned to being left off this year's team that defends the cup in Sweden -- until last week.
'I hadn't made a point all year,' Robbins said, who was 15th in the Solheim Cup standings going into the U.S. Women's Open. 'I didn't think last year was going to be my last one, but I needed to worry more about getting my game in order. This will help.'
She tied for second and moved up to No. 8 in the standings, putting her in great shape to at least be a captain's pick.
Plus, the $272,004 she earned at Pumpkin Ridge -- the largest check of her career -- moved her up to 15th on the money list and earned her a spot in the $2.1 million Evian Masters later this month in France.
'This was a big bonus,' Robbins said.
The USGA has proposed a new test to measure the limits for how far a golf ball travels. The test has been upgraded from the 1976 standard to include a swing speed of 109 mph and a titanium club instead of a wooden club. The coefficient of restitution is .82, which is .01 under the limit. ... Mhairi McKay was 9 under par for her first 35 holes at Pumpkin Ridge. She played the final 37 holes in 11 over par. ... Padraig Harrington didn't sound like the No. 9 player in the world last week at the European Open when he said, 'I never expect to play well. I'm usually surprised when I do.'
STAT OF THE WEEK
For the first time since a playoff loss in 1992, Juli Inkster finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Women's Open without winning.
'He told me it looks like a garden shovel.' -- Hilary Lunke, on her husband's first impression of her 11-wood.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.
Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain
The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.
"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."
Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.
Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.
Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.