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:
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  • Full Coverage - ADT Championship

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    Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

    Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:



    Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.



    At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd is loving it.

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    Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:14 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.

    Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.

    It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.  


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    “I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”

    After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.

    Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.

    “It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”

    Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”  

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:00 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2018, 6:57 pm

    In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.

    Made Cut

    Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.

    U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.

    Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.

    “What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

    Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.

    #MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.

    Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.

    Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.

    Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.

    “I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told PGATour.com. “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”

    The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.

    During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.

    “Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”

    The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Web.com Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.

    Stay tuned.

    Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.

    The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.

    On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.

    That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.


    Missed Cut

    West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.

    J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.

    Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.

    But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.

    Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”

    It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.