Sorenstam stepping away but keeping door open

By Associated PressOctober 23, 2008, 4:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newHAIKOU, China ' Annika Sorenstam announced in June that she is stepping away from golf at the end of this season, a phrase the 10-time major winner has repeatedly used rather than say shes retiring.
Now, with a half-dozen events left before she plays the Dec. 11-14 Dubai Ladies Masters ' a Ladies European Tour event ' Sorenstam is hedging a bit more.
Well see if I will come back in a few years to play, Sorenstam said Thursday, on the eve of the 54-hole Grand China Air tournament, the first LPGA event in China.
As of now, Im leaving the door open. Thats why Im not using the R word.
The 38-year-old Swede is getting married in January, and she expects family and business interests to keep her occupied. She designs golf courses, has a clothing line, a charitable foundation and runs a golf academy.
Sorenstam said she wont miss the daily grind of professional golf ' the practice, gym sessions and pressure to perform.
I have done that for so long and I have enjoyed it very much, she said. Ive pushed myself. Ive enjoyed the journey, but Ive come to a point now where Im very happy, Im very satisfied with what I have achieved.
Still, Sorenstam clearly has reservations and is choosing her words carefully.
If I get the urge to come back, I have a chance, Sorenstam said. Thats why I have never said this is the end. But well see.
There are new challenges ahead, she added. Getting married and starting a family. Who knows? I might come out on tour sooner than later. It might be tougher than I think it is.
Sorenstam has won three times this season and heads a 63-player field in China ' two-thirds of whom are Asians. And thats not because the field is stacked because of the location.
Fifty-one players come off the top of the LPGAs money list. Eight more are Chinese, invited by the Chinese Golf Association. And four others are sponsors invitations, three of whom are Chinese. The other sponsors invitation is Englands Laura Davies.
Yani Tseng of Taiwan will be among the crowd favorites at the West Coast Golf Club, located on the mainland Chinese island of Hainan ' situated between the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin.
In June at the LPGA Championship, Tseng became the first rookie to win a major since South Korean Se Ri Pak in 1998. At 19, she was also the second-youngest woman to win a major. Morgan Pressel ' who is also in the China Air field ' was 18 when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year.
Another favorite will be 19-year-old Shanshan Feng, an LPGA rookie this season. She is also the only Chinese player on the LPGA.
Chinese golf is getting bigger and bigger. It is getting more and more popular, Feng said. China can become another Korea for golf. I believe so. Maybe not now but in the future.
In the LPGAs Rookie of the Year standings, five of the top six are Asians. Tseng is No. 1, followed by South Koreans Na-yeon Choi and Hee-young Park. Japanese Momoko Ueda is No. 4 and Feng is No. 6.
Sorenstam credited Pak with popularizing womens golf in South Korea, just as Sorenstam benefited from breakthroughs by fellow Swedes Liselotte Neumann and Helen Alfredsson.
If I would guess what will happen in the next five to 10 years, were going to continue to see growth from this part of the world, Sorenstam said. Im sure were going to see a lot more Chinese players joining the LPGA.

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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.