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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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.