Notes Busy Time for Annika Stricker Chooses Family
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.