Sorenstam Back with the Boys

By Associated PressNovember 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 Merrill Lynch Skins GameLA QUINTA, Calif. - Annika Sorenstam is mixing it up with the men again, and this time the competition includes Tiger Woods. Sorenstam and Woods will play against each other for the first time when they tee off Saturday in the Skins Game at the Trilogy Golf Club in the middle of the desert.
 
Woods, who has a miserable Skins Game record, wasn't in the foursome last year when Sorenstam made a sensational debut by winning five skins and $225,000. She finished second to Fred Couples, who rounds out the field with Aussie Adam Scott.
 
'I've been fortunate to practice with Tiger a few times,' Sorenstam said Friday. 'He's taught me a few shots, and hopefully I can give it back to him this week. I've got one of his wedges and it's working better than ever, so we'll see what happens.'
 
Woods gave Sorenstam that club in the spring of 2003.
 
'I've got a driver out in the trunk,' Woods joked.
 
Even though the men had more power off the tee, Sorenstam, the first woman to compete in the Skins Game, held her own last year at the same course.
 
The LPGA star made one of the most spectacular shots in Skins Game history, a 39-yard bunker shot for eagle on the par-5, 524-yard ninth hole to win four skins and $175,000 to take the first-day lead.
 
'I have to play my best to have a chance to win some skins,' said Sorenstam, who already is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. 'That's what happened last year. I holed a shot, really, from an unpredictable place, and that's what makes you win skins.'
 
Sorenstam earned a great deal of respect with her finish here last year. Six months earlier, she became the first woman to compete in a PGA event in 58 years at the Colonial, but missed the cut.
 
Woods, who lost the No. 1 ranking in the world earlier this year to Vijay Singh, would be happy just to win some skins.
 
Sorenstam won as much money last year as Woods has in his four previous appearances in the Merrill Lynch Skins Game. He's won only nine skins total.
 
'This format is all about timing, and hopefully I can do a little better in this one,' Woods said. 'I'll never forget my first one. I shot a 31 on the front nine and didn't get any skins.
 
'That was a lot of fun,' he said facetiously.
 
Woods won his first stroke-play tournament in more than a year Sunday, capturing the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan by eight strokes after closing with a 3-under 67.
 
'I played really well in Japan,' he said. 'I hit a lot of good shots and putted very well, so I'm very excited about the things I've been working on. They're starting to come together now.'
 
Sorenstam played in only 18 tournaments on the LPGA Tour this year, but won eight of them.
 
She'd love to win the Skins Game.
 
'It would mean I'd be invited back,' she said. 'That would obviously be awesome. Last year was not a total surprise to me, but I was very psyched about winning one skin and I wound up winning more.
 
'So for me, it is a bonus. I mean, I am thrilled to be back and have a chance to play with the guys. With this format, every hole is like a new match.'
 
Holes one through six are worth $25,000 each; Nos. 7-12, $50,000 apiece; 13 through 17, $70,000 each; and the 18th is a 'Super Skin' worth $200,000. If no one wins a skin on a hole, the money is added to the following hole. Each player will give 20 percent of his or her earnings to charity.
 
The first nine holes will be played Saturday and the final nine Sunday at the par-72, 7,038-yard Trilogy.
 
Couples will be playing in his 11th Skins Game. A four-time winner, he's pocketed a record $2,875,000 and won 66 skins.
 
'Golf is all about opportunity and this is about as opportunistic as it gets,' said Couples, who won $605,000 last year. 'I've got the flair for hitting a good shot and I've got a superior flair for hitting some wild ones, too.'
 
Scott, 24, is ranked 11th in the world. He has three career PGA Tour victories, including The Players Championship in March, when he became the youngest champion in golf's richest tournament.
 
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.