Sorenstam Having a Vijay-Like Year

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2004, 5:00 pm
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam competed against the men last year at Colonial. Now she is being compared with them.
Sorenstam has won nine times around the world this year, same as Vijay Singh.
And her four-year run as the No. 1 player on the LPGA Tour is equally impressive, if not more, to the way Tiger Woods dominated the PGA Tour during a five-year stretch.
'The kind of golf she's playing, it's unbelievable,' Meg Mallon said Wednesday. 'Everyone is talking about Vijay's year. She's done it for the last six years.'
And that's what might be most impressive of all.
Sorenstam comes into the season-ending ADT Championship at Trump International in the same position as the previous three years ' on top of her game, atop the money list and the player to beat on the LPGA Tour.
'When Annika is in the field, everybody is aware of it,' said Grace Park, who's No. 2 on the money list and will be paired with Sorenstam when the tournament starts Thursday. We know the competition will be that much tougher.'
Winning never gets old, but it has become routine for Sorenstam.
She won a major for the fourth straight year. She already has crossed the $2 million mark for the fourth straight time, an amazing feat considering no other woman has done it once. She already has wrapped up LPGA Tour player of the year and has gone four straight seasons with at least six victories.
The difference this year is that Sorenstam started taking more time off.
The ADT Championship, a season-ending tournament for the top 30 players on the money list, is only her 18th start on the LPGA Tour. She's working less off the course, but learning to get more quality out of her practice sessions.
The bad news for the rest of the LPGA is that she is as good as ever.
'I've played less and still played at the same level,' Sorenstam said. 'I stepped away from the game a lot more this year, and I'm still able to be up there. People from the outside might not see that, but I've noticed that.'
Sorenstam played only 17 times a year ago, but that was different. She spent long, hard hours in the gym and on the range to get ready for the Colonial, where she became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour.
'I've had more time at home and less on the road,' she said. 'I think the negative ' which I thought would be, but I haven't really noticed any ' is that I wouldn't play as much and I'd be a little more rusty. But I'm surprised how consistent I'm playing the weeks I've played.'
Still, she's starting to wonder how long it can last.
Sorenstam once dropped hints about an early retirement, although she said she would continue to play as long as she's motivated and enjoys competing.
The question is whether anyone can challenge her.
Just like with Woods, there has been a revolving door of rivals ' Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Juli Inkster. The fresh challenge now comes from Park, Lorena Ochoa, even Mallon, who won the U.S. Women's Open.
'When you have a player on top dominating, people catch up,' Sorenstam said. 'It's just a matter of time. It's tough to be on top. I've always found it easier to chase something or somebody.'
She was on top last year at Trump International, taking a three-shot lead into the final round and everyone assumed the tournament was over. Mallon had other ideas, rallying with a 67 for a one-shot victory.
Now, the defending champion is just happy to be playing.
Mallon's back went out on her two weeks ago, causing her to miss two LPGA events and a silly season event against the men. She figured she was day-to-day when she arrived Monday, and managed to get through the pro-am.
'I will be very grateful for teeing off,' she said. 'I will be very grateful for getting through a round of golf without having my back go out. But I also need to get myself mentally saying, `You need to be competitive.' Hopefully, that will all come into play.'
No matter what she does at Trump International, nothing will take away from Mallon's year. She won the biggest trophy in women's golf at the U.S. Open. She also won the Canadian Open, and a third event in Ohio, not far from where she went to college at Ohio State.
'It was a magical summer for me,' Mallon said.
Sorenstam feels the same way about her season, even though everyone is used to the results.
'Maybe people take it for granted, but I definitely don't,' Sorenstam said. 'I'm very proud of this year. I think I've played some excellent golf. When you don't play as much, maybe people don't pay attention.'
But it's hard to ignore what she has done ' and continues to do.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - ADT Championship

    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.