Plenty of Winners Last Week Starting with LPGA Tour

By Associated PressMay 27, 2003, 4:00 pm
For three months leading up to the Colonial and two rounds that she spent as the first woman in 58 years on the PGA Tour, Annika Sorenstam brought more attention to women's golf than at any other time in history.
 
The trick is getting it to last.
 
Sorenstam goes back to where she belongs this week -- those are her words, not Vijay Singh's -- when she defends her title in the Kellogg-Keebler Classic outside Chicago.
 
Media requests have doubled. Advance ticket sales are up 50 percent.
 
The ripple effect from Colonial is not quite the tidal wave that Tiger Woods creates whenever he wins majors, but at least it's visible.
 
The more significant test is next week in Wilmington, Del., when the LPGA Championship goes head-to-head with the Senior PGA Championship about 30 miles away at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa.
 
This is the second time in nine months that the PGA of America has shown little regard for women's golf by staging a big event in the same neighborhood. It took the 2002 PGA Championship to Hazeltine, just one month before the Solheim Cup was played down the road at Interlachen.
 
This time, however, LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw might be holding the trump card in Sorenstam, one of the hottest properties in golf.
 
Whom to watch?
 
A group of aging men at least a dozen years past their prime? Or a woman who captured the imagination of millions worldwide with a gutsy performance in the Colonial?
 
'Her name recognition has never been higher,' Votaw said.
 
Sorenstam was never in this for the LPGA Tour.
 
Some feared she could bring irreparable harm to women's golf if she embarrassed herself at Colonial. That camp included Louise Suggs, an LPGA founder who said, 'I hope to hell she plays well. This could mean trouble for her and the LPGA Tour.'
 
Not to worry.
 
Even though Sorenstam missed the cut by four shots, she left an indelible mark on golf by the way she handled more pressure than any other player has faced, and held her own on the toughest course she has played against the best competition she has ever seen.
 
'I think it was an overall positive,' Lee Janzen said. 'It brought a lot of attention to the tournament, a lot of attention to both tours. I think a lot of people have a little more respect for the women's tour than they did, from a player's perspective.'
 
Considering all Sorenstam accomplished the last two years, that respect was lacking.
 
She won four straight times early in the 2001 season, which included a 59 in Phoenix, a 10-stroke comeback in Los Angeles and a major championship. Last year, she won 13 times in 25 tournaments worldwide, the most by any golfer -- male or female -- in 39 years.
 
Still, it took a missed cut on the PGA Tour for anyone to notice.
 
That Sorenstam was willing to risk failure before such an enormous audience has made her one of the biggest stars ever in women's sports.
 
What remains to be seen is whether that alone is enough to spike television ratings and attendance at LPGA Tour events.
 
'Success is going to be an evolutionary formula,' Votaw said. 'By any standard, you could judge what she has done as a success for golf, the LPGA Tour and for herself.'
 
The only thing that could dent her success would be a repeat performance.
 
Woods was among those who thought Sorenstam should play at least four or five PGA Tour events to give herself a fighting chance.
 
Sorenstam said once was enough, and she stood her ground after her emotional exit from the Colonial.
 
Smart move.
 
Colonial was such an overwhelming success that Sorenstam has nowhere to go but down. While her rounds of 71-74 were respectable, the fabled course played as easy as ever and she didn't come particularly close to making the cut.
 
If she played a few more times and made the cut, what would that prove? Kenny Perry won the Colonial with a record 19 under par. Sorenstam made two birdies in two rounds.
 
The pressure now shifts to Suzy Whaley, who earned the right to play in the Greater Hartford Open in July by winning a tournament for club pros while playing from a shorter set of tees (another double bogey for the PGA of America).
 
'I hope people are educated enough to know that she's a teacher,' Sorenstam said earlier this year. 'It's different.'
 
No other woman will make the same impact as Sorenstam at Colonial, until there comes a time -- if there comes a time -- that a woman is capable of winning on the PGA Tour.
 
She can only hope that more people start paying attention to her when she wins on the LPGA Tour, and also notice the capable women who beat her.
 
'We'll see what happens,' Sorenstam said as she left Colonial. 'Hopefully with this week ... we'll take women's golf to a different level, and hopefully way higher.'
 
Sorenstam certainly did her part.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.