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.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - ADT Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

    Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

    Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

    The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

    Rules changes include no more viewer call-ins

    By Rex HoggardDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

    Although the Rules of Golf modernization is still a year away, officials continue to refine parts of the rulebook including an overhaul of the video review protocols.

    A “working group” led by the USGA and R&A announced on Monday the new protocols, which include assigning a rule official to a tournament broadcast to resolve rules issues.

    The group – which includes the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA tour and PGA of America – also voted to stop considering viewer call-ins when processing potential rule violations.

    In addition, a new local rule was announced that will discontinue the penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard when the player was unaware of the violation.

    In April, Lexi Thompson was penalized four strokes during the final round when officials at the ANA Inspiration learned via e-mail from a viewer of an infraction that occurred during the third round. Thompson was penalized two strokes for incorrectly marking her golf ball and two for signing an incorrect scorecard.

    “The message is, as a fan, enjoy watching the game and the best players in the world, but also have the confidence that the committee in charge of the competition have the rules handled,” Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of the Rules of Golf, said on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" on Monday. “Let’s leave the rules and the administration of the event to the players and to those responsible for running the tournament.”

    The working group was created in April to review the use of video in applying the rules and the role of viewer call-ins, and initially issued a decision to limit the use of video through the introduction of the “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standard.

    According to that decision, which was not a rule, “so long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted, even if later shown to be inaccurate by the use of video evidence.”

    The new protocols will be implemented starting on Jan. 1.

    A comprehensive overhaul of the Rules of Golf is currently underway by the USGA and R&A that will begin on Jan. 1, 2019.