One Last Chance for Annika to Avoid Shut-out

By Associated PressNovember 14, 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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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.