Annika Struggles Mightily in Bid for Record

By Associated PressMay 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
Forget making history. Annika Sorenstam has some work to do just to make the weekend. Looking to become the first LPGA player to win six straight tournaments, Sorenstam instead had one of her worst rounds in recent memory Thursday, shooting a 5-over 76 at the Michelob Ultra Open. It's the first time in 44 rounds she finished above par.
 
'I don't know what to say about this round,' she said. 'I thought I played pretty good today. It just didn't go my way at all.'
 
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam had a rough time of it as she posted a 5-over 77 in the first round.
No, it didn't. Sorenstam's score was her highest in relation to par since a 5-over 77 in the second round of the 2002 British Open. That, by the way, was also the last time she missed a cut. She shot a 76 in the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year, but par was 72.
 
It also was her highest score in an opening round since a 76 in the 2000 Rochester International.
 
'I can't remember it. And I don't want to remember it,' Sorenstam said when asked the last time she had a round this bad. 'I just want to move forward. I've got to go low the next three days, and I know I can do it.'
 
She's going to have to Friday if she wants to play this weekend. Sorenstam was eight strokes behind early leaders Cristie Kerr and Kristen Samp, and several strokes off the projected cut. The top 70 players and ties make the cut, and 70 players were at 1-over or better midway through the afternoon.
 
But if anyone can rally, it's Sorenstam.
 
She's been on an amazing roll lately, winning five straight to tie Nancy Lopez's long-standing LPGA record. She shares the LPGA record for biggest comeback victory, rallying from 10 shots back on the final day to win The Office Depot in 2001. She also made up four strokes in the final three holes, then won in a playoff, at the Safeway International, her fourth victory in the streak.
 
And she finished her round Thursday with her best shot of the day, chipping in from 50 feet on the par-4 No. 9.
 
'I'm hoping my luck is turning,' she said. 'That's how I'm going to look at it. That's what I need the next three days.'
 
Sorenstam hasn't played since winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a five-week layoff. But she said she felt good when she started her round, and she didn't look unnerved by the pressure that's come with the streak. She smiled and waved at the few dozen fans who greeted her with applause when she stepped on the 10th tee, and she smiled and laughed throughout the round.
 
'I thought I played well,' she said. 'It's just one of those days.'
 
For every other golfer, sure. For Sorenstam? No way.
 
Her drives were spectacular, as usual. She routinely outdrove playing partners Carin Koch and Wendy Ward by 10 yards or more, and her drive on No. 9 carried 300 yards. But her short game was shaky and her putting was dismal.
 
Take the par-3 17th hole. She had a 4-footer for par, but it curved around the upper edge of the cup and refused to drop in. As the crowd groaned, Sorenstam looked around in amazement as if to say, 'What is happening?'
 
Things weren't any better on the second nine. She three-putted for bogey on the par-3 No. 2, and made another bogey when she missed an 8-footer on No. 4. On the par-5 No. 7, she hit a beautiful drive, the ball landing 195 yards from the green.
 
But she pushed her second shot far right, and the ball landed on a slope under a group of trees.
 
'I thought I had a good lie,' she said.
 
Not really. She hit a rock and chunked her first attempt to get out, moving the ball only a few feet. She flew the green on her next shot, landing in the rough about 35 feet from the pin. She chipped within 8 feet, but her putt rolled 6 inches past the hole and she finished with a double-bogey.
 
Caddie Terry McNamara gave her an encouraging hug, and Sorenstam threw the offending ball away.
 
She finally started looking like her old self on No. 9, her last hole. Her second shot hit the edge of the green and bounced a few feet back, leaving her about 50 feet shy of the hole. She chipped on, and the ball rolled ever so slowly toward the cup, knocking against the pin before dropping in.
 
One fan yelled, 'Yeah, Annika! Yeah!' and Sorenstam gave a triumphant swing of her putter. She grinned broadly as she handed the putter to McNamara, and the two slapped hands and bumped fists.
 
'It's just one of those days,' she said. 'I've just got to laugh about it and move on.'
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - Michelob Ultra Open

  • Full Coverage - Michelob Ultra Open
  • Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.

    Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

    By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

    He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

    The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

    Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

    Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

    3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

    5/2: Rory McIlroy

    7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

    9/2: Justin Rose

    5/1: Brooks Koepka

    15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

    10/1: Adam Scott

    12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

    15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

    20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

    25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

    30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes