Sorenstam Has More Brains Than Brawn
Fortunately, that second part won't be a problem for Annika Sorenstam.
She might need to use more club to cover the same distances as the men she'll face at Colonial come May, but Sorenstam will be every bit their equal when it comes to thinking her way around the course.
In fact, judging by the planning she and her camp have done already, maybe better.
Sorenstam has accepted one of the dozen sponsors' exemptions into the tradition-laden tournament. And why not? If this is really about the best female golfer in the world measuring her game against men, she couldn't have picked a better spot.
At 7,080 yards, Colonial is among a handful of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour. But the news gets even better. It's covered by Bermuda grass rather than bent, so the ball will run farther down the fairways and the rough will be shorter and less snarly in May, even if it rains. There are plenty of doglegs, too, which means most of the men will hit irons off a number of the tees. Better still, plenty of the greens are open in front, giving the short hitter a chance to roll approach shots to the flag instead of always having to airmail them.
That explains, in part, why Golf World magazine reported that much of the resistance to Sorenstam playing at Colonial was the fear of some members that the course would become known as ``one easy enough for a girl to play.'' Not that there's much chance of that happening.
``The real battle for Annika will be getting over the hoopla,'' Carol Mann said over the phone Tuesday, and she should know. ``It's going to be double, maybe triple anything she's ever seen.''
Mann, a Hall of Fame golfer, played a disastrous one-on-one match against flamboyant Doug Sanders some 30 years ago. She knows the pressure can be suffocating.
``How will she get into a mind-set to perform? That's a question she can't answer until she experiences it,'' Mann added. ``There was some of that at the end of the 'Battle of Bighorn.' But this will be beyond that.''
Sorenstam was paired with Tiger Woods in a made-for-TV match against David Duval and fellow LPGA star Karrie Webb two years ago. The result was bad golf and the worst TV ratings in the three previous years the exhibition matches had been staged. The reason why, as well as the decision to replace the women last year with seniors Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, became apparent on the 18th tee when neither could reach the 18th fairway with their drivers in regulation or the playoff.
Even with the 20 extra yards Sorenstam has added to her tee shots in recent years, she still barely cracks the top 200 in driving distance on the PGA Tour. But that won't be her problem. Colonial will scrub much of the distance advantage off the men's games and besides, Sorenstam might be the most accurate player on any tour. She hits three of every four fairways, on average, and four of every five greens.
Still, you have to ask whether this is a good idea. When teaching pro and part-time LPGA member Suzy Whaley qualified for the Greater Hartford Open last fall and later announced she would use the invitation, Sorenstam was part of the chorus pushing for leniency.
``I hope people are educated enough to know she's a teacher,'' Sorenstam said. ``She's not teeing it up on tour out here every week.''
But Sorenstam won't get any slack for the very same reason. She's clearly the best the women have to offer, and the hottest golfer on the planet ' Woods included. She won 24 of her 42 career victories since 1999, and last year posted the winningest year any golfer has put up in four decades.
So it won't matter that she can't drive the ball as far, doesn't have as refined a short game because she hits so many greens on the LPGA Tour, or still isn't automatic over 5-foot putts because her usual competition has wilted long before that.
``I'd like to think we've grown up enough to where people would be forgiving, but I think there's going to be a real split, especially if she misses the cut,'' Mann said. ``Some people will be compassionate and some will be cruel.
``Annika can handle herself, but here's what really scares me,'' she added. ``Because of this, maybe sooner rather than later now, some guy is going to attempt to play on the women's tour.''
When someone suggested the embarrassment factor would keep that from happening, Mann said, ``I hope you're right. I just wouldn't bet against it.''
Maybe she's right. Maybe there are still a few men out there willing to test the theory that brains are still more important in golf than brawn.
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.