One Last Chance for Annika to Avoid Shut-out - COPIED

By Associated PressNovember 15, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- This might be as true as any measure of Annika Sorenstam's year. At the season-ending ADT Championship, she didn't even get an audience with the Donald.
 
Donald Trump has been the unofficial host of this event since it came to his Trump International course six years ago. He usually plays the pro-am with the top player on the LPGA Tour, which usually is Sorenstam.
 
But not anymore.
 
It was not surprising for to him play Wednesday with Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 player in women's golf whose season has been so dominant that even with a record $1 million going to the winner, the Mexican star still has the money title locked up.
 
The real surprise is Sorenstam.
 
Who could have ever imagined that a player who has averaged nearly eight victories a year since 2001 would arrive at the ADT Championship trying to avoid her first winless season since she was a soft-spoken rookie in 1994?
 
Or that she only qualified last week for the 32-player event that she has won four times?
 
'It's not a year that is something you really put on a resume,' Sorenstam said.
 
But there's a good reason for her becoming just another face on the LPGA Tour this year. Sorenstam was diagnosed with back and neck injuries in April after a lackluster start to her season, and she wound up missing nearly two months of competition. Even when she returned at her Ginn Tribute, and for the final three majors, she was hardly at full strength.
 
And the landscape of the LPGA Tour changed before her eyes.
 
First came Ochoa, replacing her at No. 1 in the world ranking this spring and stretching her lead to leave no doubt who's the best. Then came Suzann Pettersen, who won her first major among five LPGA titles this year.
 
Sorenstam is stuck on 69 victories, still third on the career list in LPGA history. For most of this decade, her only rival seemed to be Kathy Whitworth and her record 88 victories, and it most thought it was only a matter of time before Sorenstam caught her.
 
Rest easy, Kathy.
 
'It wasn't until those few years when I was really hot and I was winning events that I thought, 'Well, maybe that's even possible.' Now, it's just getting back to the game and even trying to win one event,' Sorenstam said. 'Right now, I don't really have that in my sights. It's not something that motivates me. I'm focusing on next season and giving it my all.'
 
She still has one last shot.
 
The ADT Championship presents perhaps the quirkiest format of any tour. The field will be cut to 16 players after two rounds, and the slate will be wiped clean. Another cut will be made after the third round Saturday to eight players, and again their scores will be erased. Sunday brings an 18-hole shootout, with $1 million going to the winner.
 
Sorenstam was never crazy about the winner-take-almost-everything format when it was created, knowing that someone could get hot for one round and beat her out of the money title. No need to worry about that now.
 
She has played a career-low 12 times because of her injury, and a tie for third last week moved her up to No. 25 on the money list. It was the first time all year she has strung together three straight top 10s, and Sorenstam is starting to get back into a groove.
 
Sorenstam has said she has only felt competitive in five tournaments she has played this year, and it's tough enough to win on the LPGA Tour even at 100 percent strength.
 
'I'm going to play the best I can this week, but it's not do-or-die if I don't win,' she said. 'Like I said, I'm just happy to be here playing. The expectations are a lot more different than they were last year. I've always been one of the favorites coming into this week, but this year is very different. And it's just something I have to accept.'
 
Remember that rivalry she once had with Karrie Webb? In a way, it's been revived. Webb hasn't won this year, either.
 
Webb, coming off a year in which she won her seventh major, isn't sure what the future holds for Sorenstam, noting that the Swede is starting to get involved with business ventures, from opening a teaching academy to creating a brand to launching a new Web site.
 
'If Annika puts her mind to wanting to play good golf, she will,' Webb said. 'I don't doubt that for a second.'
 
It has been a strange year, indeed, although Sorenstam won't call it a complete bust.
 
Wearing a neck brace, she opened her academy at the Ginn Reunion Resort in Orlando in April. She is designing two golf courses. And she got engaged. Off the course, it's been one of her best years.
 
The question is whether she can find the drive to hit full speed inside the ropes again. She met with all her sponsors last month and told them that she would step away early next year and concentrate fully on golf, quite a concession from someone who is hands-on in just about everything she does.
 
'I do feel like I have kind of come to the back nine of my career,' Sorenstam said. I've done a lot, and I'm satisfied in a lot of things. I've achieved so much more than I ever thought I could. Yeah, there are times when I have to kick myself a little bit and go out there, but I think the injury has kind of helped me to spark the interest a little bit again.
 
'I want to find the top of my game. That's my priority now.'
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry