Im Not a Social Golfer

By Associated PressOctober 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 Samsung World ChampionshipHALF MOON BAY, Calif. ' Annika Sorenstam is headed into the stretch run of her final LPGA season still exuding the same competitive drive that has carried her this far.
 
Im not a social golfer, she said matter-of-factly Wednesday when asked about what shell do once through on tour.
 
Getting married, motherhood and some down time without clubs in hand will be more her style soon. Maybe a trip back here to relax and use the spa in the luxe Ritz-Carlton resort. Enjoy a little high-class food and wine.
 
But not just yet.
 
I try not to think about it, she said. I am still so competitive. This is what I have done for over 20 years. Ive done this for a very long time. Its just something thats in me.
 
Sorenstam, who turns 38 next Thursday, has won a record five Samsung World Championships ' and the Swede would like nothing more than to go out on top this week in her last one.
 
That will take beating two-time defending champion and world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa. Sorenstam would like to finish atop the money list in her last year, too, and as Player of the Year. Both of those things also would mean passing Ochoa.
 
And Sorenstam is realistic.
 
That challenge is a little tougher than I anticipated starting, Sorenstam said Wednesday following her pro-am round at the Samsung. I got off to a good start but havent played really well. Pretty much since my announcement, Ive been nonstop. Ive been traveling a lot, playing a lot of tournaments. The results havent been there to put me in that situation.
 
Sorenstam and Ochoa will be the favorites ' fan favorites, too ' when they tee off together Thursday in the first round of the elite, 20-player field on the 6,450-yard, par-72 Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. A year ago, Ochoa beat Mi Hyun Kim by four strokes in the event at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert. It was the seventh of her eight 2007 victories.
 
Ochoa, from Mexico, has seven tour titles this season and Sorenstam three. Both are seeking the $250,000 winners purse here.
 
Annika, of course, has played many years, said Ochoa, the winner Sunday in Alabama. I have so much respect for her. But I dont want her to beat me. Well see at the end of the season where we both are.
 
They each like the challenging course, with its five par-5s rather than the typical four and thick grass that makes for tough chipping.
 
I am hitting my driver good, said Ochoa, who recently spent time back home resting and tweaking her swing. Thats important this week. Im going to make sure I can get it in the right direction. I think hitting the fairways is probably going to be the most important thing.
 
That, and staying focused to avoid the distractions of the spectacular ocean views on the Northern California coast just south of San Francisco.
 
The good thing, if you hit a bad shot, its nice to look at the ocean and breathe, Ochoa said. Its beautiful.
 
Yani Tseng also should be high on the leaderboard. She is the leader for LPGA Rookie of the Year race and ranked No. 3 in the world. She is the youngest player in the field at 19, and clearly thrilled ' not to mention downright giddy ' to be among top players.
 
She and Ochoa often bet $50 for both most birdies and lowest round.
 
Im very happy to be betting with Lorena, Tseng said, chuckling. Last tournament we had two rounds together. I tell myself, This is very important. I want to beat her. Every time I make a par I just watch her and smile. We are good friends and we are going to bet until maybe we both retire.
 
So, Sorenstam isnt the only one targeting Ochoa this week ' and Ochoa realizes the depth in her sport is only increasing by the day and by the tournament.
 
Right now she is the No. 1 player in the world, said Paula Creamer, raised in nearby Pleasanton. Lorena is a very confident player, but there are so many people out there trying to challenge that. I think thats great. I dont think weve had that before in womens golf.
 
The tournament had been at Bighorn the past four years. This move gives Northern California consecutive weeks of womens golf. The Longs Drugs Challenge is next week in nearby Danville.
 
Half Moon Bay, designed by Arthur Hills in 1997, becomes the 15th course to host the Samsung.
 
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  • Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.