Notes Busy Time for Annika Stricker Chooses Family

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
Even if Annika Sorenstam wanted to add an LPGA Tour event to her schedule to try to make up ground in her bid for a sixth straight LPGA Player of the Year title, her schedule won't allow it.
 
Starting next week, she will be playing in four straight tournaments -- but only two on the LPGA Tour.
 
Sorenstam will play in Dubai next week on the Ladies European Tour, then go to Japan for the Mizuno Classic, an LPGA event she has won the last five years. Instead of playing the Tournament of Champions in Alabama, however, Sorenstam has agreed to play in Greg Norman's Merrill Lynch Shootout in Naples, Fla., where Fred Couples will be her partner. The season ends at the ADT Championship.
 
Sorenstam has not played the Tournament of Champions since 2002, and it was never in her plans. Then again, she usually has the points-based award wrapped up by now.
 
'I can't really add any more because I'm playing every week,' she said. 'If there was some more tournaments, maybe I would add some. I gave it a run. I had a lot of tournaments to catch them.'
 
Sorenstam is not mathematically eliminated. She would have to win the Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship, and hope that Ochoa finishes outside the top three at her final two events, in Alabama and the Trump International.
 
FRESNO FALLOUT
Not quite two months after the PGA TOUR announced its fall schedule, it has hit a speed bump with one of them.
 
Because of construction delays and financial issues surrounding the Running Horse Golf and Country Club, tour officials will be going to Fresno, Calif., this week to meet with the developers.
 
The Running Horse Golf Championship is to be played Oct. 25-28 next year, the second-to-last event on the 2007 schedule. Along with falling behind on the course, KFSN-TV in Fresno has reported that the managing partners are trying to sell it.
 
'Things at the golf course are going slower than we thought they were,' PGA TOUR spokesman Bob Combs said. 'I understand there are one or maybe more groups looking at investing in it. But from our perspective, we're playing in Fresno.'
 
One option for the tour if Running Horse is not ready would be to move it to another golf course in the area, such as Fort Washington.
 
'We believe Running Horse is going to be the site,' Combs said. 'If it turns out to be another one, we'll cross that bridge. The key thing is we'll be there.'
 
TIME TO COME HOME
This should sound familiar: A PGA TOUR player deeply devoted to his family stops playing until the Bob Hope Classic because he wants to spend time at home.
 
For Steve Stricker, his decision means leaving a lot on the table.
 
It has been an amazing year for Stricker, who failed to get through the final stage of Q-school and could only get in three tournaments the first 15 weeks of the season. With two top 10s in the majors and solid play just about everywhere else, he was considered for the Ryder Cup team and moved all the way up to No. 32 on the money list.
 
Stricker, however, turned down exemptions to Greensboro and Disney. His season is over.
 
'I really don't have much to gain getting in the Tour Championship, other than the prestige,' he said. 'I'm in the U.S. majors next year. I've got a 5-month-old daughter, and it's nice to be at home. All my tournaments came at a compressed time, which was good. I have no complaints. It was a great year. But my wife is ready to have me at home. And I was ready to go home.'
 
This is nothing new.
 
Stricker, a Midwestern man at heart, usually stops playing in September to spend time with his children (he also has an 8-year-old) in Wisconsin and to hunt. He hasn't had a choice the last few years, and sure didn't think he would have that luxury this year.
 
DAVIES COMMITMENT
Laura Davies qualified for the Samsung World Championship with a recent surge that put her atop the Ladies European Tour money list. But it wasn't enough to turn her back on a commitment to a friend.
 
Davies had pledged to walk 56 miles of the Great Wall of China to raise money for Great Ormond Street, the hospital that is treating the 1-year-old daughter of Helen Dobson. Davies and Dobson played on the Curtis Cup team together, and Dobson's daughter has Down's syndrome.
 
It can be a daunting walk, especially as the wall narrows.
 
'You know me, I never do anything I don't want to do,' Davies told The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Britain.
 
It was rough, even after walking. The 43-year-old Davies stayed in farm houses with thin walls, hard beds, cold water and toilets that amounted to holes in the ground. And for meals? An evening bowl of rice.
 
'If I haven't lost weight, it will be a travesty,' Davies said.
 
One thing she was sure to gain was respect.
 
SAMSUNG ON THE MOVE?
With sparse galleries and a pedestrian performance from Michelle Wie, perhaps the biggest buzz at the Samsung World Championship was its possible relocation next year to Pebble Beach.
 
No deal has been signed, nor has the tournament decided where to stage the 2007 event.
 
The 20-player field has been held at 14 courses in its 27-year history, from Florida to California, from Australia to South Korea. It has been in California since 2000, first at Hiddenbrooke in Vallejo, the last three years at Bighorn.
 
Should it move to Pebble Beach, the only question is: Which course?
 
The famous Pebble Beach Golf Links is not one of the options, because the dates for next year already are booked. That could leave a course such as Del Monte or Poppy Hills, perhaps Spyglass Hill or Spanish Bay.
 
Tournament officials said the Samsung could return to Bighorn next year if a move to Pebble doesn't work out.
 
DIVOTS
Ian Baker-Finch will remain a big part of TV coverage next year, switching over to CBS Sports as an analyst. ... Geoff Ogilvy picked up his third big prize of the year -- the birth of his first child. He and his wife, Juli, celebrated the birth of Phoebe Elizabeth on Oct. 10. Ogilvy won a World Golf Championship in February and the U.S. Open in June. ... John Cook received a sponsor's exemption to the Funai Classic at Disney, and he needs a big week. He is No. 126 on the money list, $648 behind Brian Bateman.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
The Samsung World Championship was the fifth time since 2001 that Annika Sorenstam has failed to win after leading by at least three shots going into the final round.
 
FINAL WORD
'No one is ever going to be 100 percent happy with me. I'm not ever going to be 100 percent happy with everyone in the entire world. That's normal. It would be pretty scary if everyone was happy all the time.' -- Michelle Wie.

Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and 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.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.