Sorenstam Focused on Winning Majors

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2005, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Annika Sorenstam came to the California desert last year with a big goal befitting her status as the dominant player in women's golf. She wanted to do what no one had ever done -- win all four LPGA major championships in one year.
By the final round of the first major of the year, that goal was history. Sorenstam was never in contention in the Nabisco Championship, and she would go on to win only one major, the LPGA Championship.
With a new year, though, comes new opportunity. And this year brings even more.
Sorenstam begins play Thursday in the Nabisco with a shot at all four majors once again, but the way she's been playing perhaps that goal is too modest. After all, Sorenstam has won her first two tournaments so far this year, and four in a row going back to last season.
Perhaps a new goal should be winning every time she tees it up. Sorenstam had to mull that one over a bit Wednesday before answering, but the thought is clearly in her mind.
'I'm not afraid of challenges. I like to set goals and I like to challenge myself,' Sorenstam said. 'I set some lofty goals last year, no doubt about it. But it's not like I look back at last year and say it was a bad year because I didn't achieve my goals.'
By anyone else's standards, it was a banner year. Sorenstam only won one major, but she won seven other LPGA tournaments and 10 tournaments overall.
She's back on a course that she likes and her game is as good as it has been. She's not only an odds-on favorite, but an intimidating presence.
'I want to win majors,' Sorenstam said. 'I know I'm playing well and I know this golf course. I really don't have any excuses.'
Grace Park is the defending champion, but Sorenstam and teenage sensation Michelle Wie will be the ones providing the buzz as the LPGA season begins in earnest on the tight fairways and slick greens of the Mission Hills Country Club.
Sorenstam, despite going through divorce proceedings, is on yet another roll and threatening to make this another season to remember.
She was bothered by personal problems last year, but says she now knows where she is and where she's going.
'I feel happier than I have in a long time,' Sorenstam said.
Wie hasn't won a penny of professional money on the golf course but she will be playing her third LPGA tournament of the year and, at the age of 15, her third Nabisco. She's finished in the top 10 both previous times, including a fourth place last year.
'This is my third year here and I feel a lot more mature,' Wie said. 'I know I learned a lot more about myself. The first time I played out here it was kind of strange playing with people that were a lot older than me, but I'm used to it right now.'
Now that she's almost a seasoned veteran, Wie's goals are evolving from competing in tournaments to perhaps winning one. If there has been any criticism of her precocious career, it is that she should be getting experience winning amateur events so she can learn to win among the pros.
Wie nearly won her first tournament of the year back home in Hawaii, finishing tied for second, two shots behind Jennifer Rosales, in the SBS Open. She tied for 12th last week in Phoenix.
'Definitely the top thing on my list is to win at least one tournament this year,' Wie said. 'But, you know, the main thing is just to have fun and play well.'
Park seized the opportunity last year to win her first major title, making a 6-footer on the 18th green before taking the traditional winner's plunge into the pond surrounding the final hole.
Park, though, will have a tough time defending this week. She injured her back playing in Mexico City earlier this year, and as late as Tuesday wasn't even sure she would be able to defend her title.
'I've had back pain as long as I've played golf and its just something that comes and goes,' she said. 'But this time around, it's pretty bad. It's pretty painful. I don't have any nerve damage but I'm having sharp pains.'
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    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

    Getty Images

    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

    Getty Images

    Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

    The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

    The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

    Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

    A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

    Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.