Sorenstam Im Stepping Away

By Associated PressMay 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
Sybe ClassicCLIFTON, N.J. -- Annika Sorenstam ignored her notes and spoke from the heart. One of golfs greatest players was leaving the game, and she handled her retirement announcement the way she would a 10-foot birdie putt with a tournament on the line.
 
With command and composure.
 
Calling her decision one shed been thinking about for a while, Sorenstam said Tuesday she will retire after the season. The 37-year-old Swede ends an LPGA Tour career in which she has won 72 tournaments to date and delivered a defining moment when she teed it up against the men on the PGA Tour.
 
I have made a decision to step away from competitive golf after this season, she said at the Sybase Classic. Obviously this was a very difficult decision for me to make because I love this game so much. But its the right one.
 
Her final event will be the Dubai Ladies Masters after the LPGA Tour season ends.
 
Im leaving the game on my terms, she said.
 
Tiger Woods called Sorenstam the greatest female golfer of all time and said it was sad to see her walk away from the game.
 
It has been a pleasure watching Annika play for all of these years, but even more of an honor to call her a friend, he said.
 
Sorenstam brought notes with her but, for the most part, did not refer to them. She drew a parallel to Brett Favre, but was not overcome by emotion as the Green Bay Packers quarterback was when he announced his retirement in March.
 
One of the things he said was that he loved the competition but not the daily grind, she said. I feel the same way.
 
Sorenstam has hinted at retirement the past several seasons, saying she wanted to devote more time to her growing business and to start a family. She is engaged to Mike McGee, son of former PGA Tour player Jerry McGee.
 
I respect Annika for wanting to go out on top, LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said. Im surprised with the timing, but its the way she wants to do it. In the long run, shell have just as much of an impact outside the game of golf, if not more.
 
Even some LPGA players who know Sorenstam well were surprised at the news.
 
It really is a shock, said Natalie Gulbis, who called Sorenstam her closest friend on the tour. Life on the tour has always been special with her. Knowing shes not going to be out there is going to be a little different. Knowing Annika as well as I do, shed love to have it end storybook, going out at No. 1.
 
The decision comes two days after Sorenstam won the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill by seven shots for her third victory of the season, and first against a field that included Lorena Ochoa. It was a sign that Sorenstam had fully recovered from injuries and was poised to make a strong bid at recapturing her stature as the best in womens golf.
 
The win the other day was just a bonus, really, she said Tuesday. I had made this decision awhile back. I was almost at peace winning on Sunday, knowing what was going to happen here today.
 
Sorenstam dominated womens golf like few others, especially during a five-year period when she won 43 times and finished among the top three nearly 70 percent of the time. But for all her achievements'the only woman to shoot 59, 10 majors and one of six women to complete the career Grand Slam'she became most famous for testing herself against the men.
 
Sorenstam became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour when she played at the Colonial in 2003. She missed the cut, but earned worldwide respect for the way she comported herself amid massive scrutiny.
 
She won LPGA Tour player of the year a record eight times, including five straight seasons until Ochoa ended the streak in 2006. Sorenstam was ineffective most of 2007, the first time in 12 years she failed to win on the LPGA Tour, as she recovered from back and neck injuries.
 
She won the first tournament of the year in Hawaii, picked up a playoff victory in South Florida three weeks ago, then continued a slow rise in the world rankings toward Ochoa with a dominant victory in Virginia.
 
Sorenstam still faces a large deficit to reclaim the No. 1 ranking from Ochoa, although LPGA Tour players measure themselves more on winning the money title and the points-based player of the year award. Those are easily within reach for Sorenstam with the season not even half over.
 
She said Ochoas ascendance did not make her want to continue playing.
 
Lorena is playing some fantastic golf, but that doesnt motive me to keep on going, she said. I enjoy playing with Lorena. Shes definitely taking the tour to a higher level. She was a lot of fun last week, and I think were going to have more of those type of events in the coming months.
 
Sorenstams 72 victories put her third on the tours career list behind Kathy Whitworth (88) and Mickey Wright (82). She is tied for fourth in career majors, five behind record-setter Patty Berg.
 
But those kind of marks never appealed to Sorenstam, even when she was winning at least 10 times during a season. She often talked about stopping sooner than people imagined to pursue other interests, whether that meant her affinity for cooking or fitness.
 
Sorenstam opened a golf academy last year near her home in Orlando, Fla., also launching her brand (Annika) and a Web site. Sorenstam plans to marry next spring.
 
Im just very happy with life, she said. You start thinking, What else is more important in life, and what else do I want to achieve on the golf course? Its been a year or so where Ive just been very content and I felt like when I came back from the injury, Ive proven to myself that I can do it and its a special feeling.
 
She is not the first LPGA Tour star to retire early. Wright, whom many regard as the best, stopped playing a full schedule when she was 34 and won the last of her 82 tournaments at age 37.
 
At the end of the 07 season, Sorenstam felt she had arrived at the back nine of my career.
 
Ive done a lot, and Im satisfied in a lot of things, she said. Ive achieved so much more than I ever thought I could.
 

Related Links:
  • Video: Annika 'Stepping Away'
  • Annika Through the Years
  • Full Coverage - Sybase Classic
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.