Sorenstam Ponders PGA Tour

By Associated PressJanuary 22, 2003, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam has dominated her competition on the LPGA Tour the last two seasons. Her next challenge might be against the men.
 
Sorenstam said Wednesday she would relish the chance to play a PGA Tour event, provided she received a sponsor's exemption and the tournament was held on a golf course that suits her game.
 
'If I got an invite, I would say yes in a heartbeat,' she said at Bay Hill Club and Lodge during an appearance for Callaway Golf. 'It's a great challenge. It's not something I want to do regularly. But it would be a great learning experience.'
 
Her agent, Mark Steinberg of IMG, said the chances of that happening this year are 'very possible,' as long as it's the right tournament, the right course, and it fits her LPGA Tour schedule.
 
'I suspect that after today, there will be more than one tournament that is very interested,' he said. 'There are going to be several tournaments that will not even consider it. That would be my guess. But there will be quite a few that express some interest.'
 
Eric Mehl, tournament director of the 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania, said it is too early to determine how the new event will use its sponsor's exemptions in September.
 
'It's definitely intriguing,' he said when told of Sorenstam's comments. 'We'll look to see what's best for the tournament.'
 
PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs said the tour has no regulations against women playing, and that tournaments have the flexibility to use their exemptions to round out the field or to create interest.
 
He said it was 'conceivable' that a tournament would offer Sorenstam an exemption.
 
The topic came up when Sorenstam, who won 13 times around the world last year and set or tied nearly two dozen records, was asked about Suzy Whaley.
 
Whaley, a Connecticut club pro, won a PGA sectional from a shorter set of tees than the men and qualified for the Greater Hartford Open in late July. She will be the first woman to play on the PGA Tour in the modern era.
 
Whaley will have to play from the championship tees with the men.
 
'I think she's very brave,' Sorenstam said. 'She's doing this to show her daughters that anything is possible. I heard in an interview that she doesn't expect to break 90. At least she has a goal set, and she knows what's going to happen.'
 
Sorenstam doesn't think Whaley's score, no matter how high, would be a setback for women's golf. She pointed out that Whaley is primarily a teaching pro, not a touring professional who competes regularly.
 
The 32-year-old Swede has higher goals if she ever gets that chance.
 
'If I pick the right course, I think I would do well,' she said, adding that she could only compete if the course wasn't excessively long, had tight fairways and punishing rough, which she rarely gets into as the LPGA's best driver.
 
Hilton Head was offered as an example, although Sorenstam will be defending her title that week in the LPGA Takefugi Classic.
 
Sorenstam has some experience competing against the men. She teamed with Tiger Woods two years ago at Bighorn when they defeated David Duval and Karrie Webb in an alternate-shot match.
 
It wasn't the best plug for women's golf -- neither Sorenstam nor Webb could find the fairway on the final few holes, and Sorenstam putted one ball off the green.
 
Last month in Mexico, Sorenstam and Jack Nicklaus played to a tie against Duval and Lorena Ochoa in an 18-hole exhibition.
 
If she did play in a PGA Tour event, Sorenstam doesn't think the perception of women's golf would depend on her performance. She says women already face unfair comparisons to the men, from length off the tee to the amount of prize money.
 
'It would be more beneficial if I did well,' she said. 'If not, then I don't think it would change anything.'
 
Steinberg said she first broached the possibility during her 2002 season, when she won 10 times on the LPGA Tour and earned $2.8 million.
 
Still, Sorenstam said playing against the men is not a priority, and most of it is timing.
 
Along with Whaley qualifying for Hartford, 13-year-old Michelle Wie of Hawaii tried to qualify for the Sony Open last week. She shot a 73 from the back tees at Pearl Country Club, finishing six strokes out of a playoff.
 
'I'm interested,' Sorenstam said. 'Now you've got Suzy Whaley, and that's such a big deal. I don't think the timing is right. But I'm playing so well, I don't want to wait too long. It's not on my priority list, but if I have a chance, I'd love to do it.'
 
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


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    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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    Man of the people


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    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Departure from TaylorMade


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    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

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    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm