Sorenstam Has to Settle for Perfect Ending

By Associated PressJune 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- This wasnt exactly the way Annika Sorenstam thought it would end, if this actually was the end. It might not be, because Sorenstam conceded earlier this week there was an outside chance we may not have seen the last of her in the U.S. Womens Open just quite yet.
 
For now, though, the plans of the greatest female player of her generation are to retire at the end of the year and start a family before her biological clock ticks down. Unless they change, this was the last time she would play in the Open championship she won three times in her storied career.
 
A few groups behind her on a windy Sunday at Interlachen Country Club, a teenager from South Korea was on her way to a final round romp to become the youngest Open winner ever. Sorenstam was once that kind of player, but at the age of 37 her desire to play golf for a living is waning at the same time her desire to have children and do more normal things grows.
 
She wanted to leave here in style, cradling her fourth Open trophy before heading overseas for her final major championship at the British Open. She hit the ball well enough to do just that, but the putter wouldnt cooperate and her emotional tank had long since run dry.
 
Now she stood on the 18th fairway, 199 yards from the last hole of a championship that helped define her career. With a 6-iron in her hand, she needed to get up-and-down just to avoid embarrassing herself by not being able to break 80
 
Then the player who had always dreamed of a perfect day on the golf course got the next best thing'a perfect ending to her Open career.
 
The shot sailed majestically toward the green, bounced once just in front and a few more times before sliding into the right side of the hole. From the fairway, Sorenstam heard the roar grow as the ball got closer and dropped into the hole for an eagle 3.
 
She had saved her best for last. And the fans, it seems, had saved their love for last.
 
They cheered her as she walked up the fairway arm-in-arm with her caddie. They called out for her to come back for another year.
 
And finally they stood as one to give her a farewell that should have reduced her to tears.
 
It didnt, perhaps because there just wasnt anything left inside to cry about. She was never the emotional sort anyway, something which may have prevented her from connecting with fans in a more personal way over the years.
 
A day earlier, Sorenstam said she felt like crying, but that was only because her birdie putts kept missing the hole. She always seemed cold and calculating on the course, largely because that was how she needed to play to win, but she could also usually count on an emotional reserve that is much harder to find now.
 
My tank is empty, Sorenstam said. You need adrenaline, you need energy. Its just very hard to run just on fumes. You can only take it so far.
 
Sorenstam has been running on fumes for quite some time now, looking little like the player who dominated womens golf so totally that when she didnt win it came as a surprise.
 
The game is still there, even if the burning desire isnt. Indeed, Sorenstam was the best from tee to green in the first three rounds in this Open before it all came apart on a final day when her usual laser-like drives found the rough and trees instead of the center of the fairway.
 
She has other things in her life now, a new fiance, a golf tournament of her own, and business ventures on the side. When she announced in May that she would not play past this year it came as a shock to many but little surprise to those who could see she no longer had the drive to be the best.
 
It was that drive that helped her win 11 tournaments in one year, be as dominate on the womens tour as Tiger Woods is on the PGA Tour, and give her the confidence to play'and play well'with the men. She always thought she could do better, and subscribed to the philosophy that a perfect round of 18 birdies on a golf course was entirely possible.
 
Sorenstam never had that round, but she came close. She is the only woman to shoot a 59 competitively, and still plays a special Callaway ball with that number stamped on it.
 
Shell go down as the best of her time, but is not ready to have her career obituary written just quite yet. Shes got one more major and another eight or nine tournaments left as she plays out the string this year.
 
After that, its goodbye, though Sorenstam insisted she was not looking for a victory tour or one last lap around the world when she announced her retirement.
 
She leaves with enough Open memories to last a lifetime, both good and bad. Shes won three of them, but lost at least that many that she thought she should have won.
 
This may have been one of them, though she had nothing left in her when she really needed it.
 
The only consolation was she was able to make one more special memory at the end.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.