Sorenstam Surprises at Skins

By Associated PressDecember 1, 2003, 5:00 pm
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam won as much money in her first Skins Game as Tiger Woods managed in his four appearances combined.
So much for the theory that inviting the world's best female golfer to this otherwise all-male, made-for-TV event was merely a gimmick to bring attention since Woods opted out this year.
'I've played with a lot of fine players,' said Mark O'Meara, Woods' close friend, 'and I'd have to put Annika at the top of the list.'
With her parents and husband among those watching, Sorenstam won five skins and $225,000, finishing second to Mr. Skins himself, Fred Couples, who earned $605,000 in winning the game for a record fourth time.
'I think she played terrific golf. I certainly didn't play better than Annika,' Couples said. 'I just made a few more putts and a couple of lucky shots.'
Phil Mickelson was third after Sunday's final nine holes of the 18-hole competition with $170,000. O'Meara, the defending champion, wound up with nothing after winning $405,000 in the event a year ago.
Despite her success, Sorenstam thought an invitation to return next year was unlikely.
'I would definitely accept it, but I don't expect one,' she said. 'I was just flattered to get an invitation to be here this year. There's a lot of people who deserve to be here, but obviously I'm very thankful to have a chance to experience this, because it's been wonderful.'
Sorenstam impressed her competitors with her unfailingly accurate drives off the tee.
'I was surprised at how far she hit the golf ball,' Mickelson said. 'I think if she were to attempt to play the men's tour full-time - not that she would, but if she were going to - I don't think distance would be a hindrance for her. She hits the ball plenty long.'
The 18-hole competition brought an end to Sorenstam's long season.
She led the LPGA Tour with six wins, won her sixth money title and was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame. In May, she became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event in 58 years, playing two solid rounds at The Colonial but missing the cut.
Her season ended with a skins competition in Singapore, the LPGA finale at the ADT Championship in Florida, and a cross-country flight to California for the Skins Game.
Now it's time for 'a long break,' she said, before she begins practicing for what she expects to be another triumphant year.
'It's majors I want to win. I've been fortunate to win six of them, but I believe inside that I can win more than that,' Sorenstam said. 'Next year I'm going to go out and try to win four in one year. Therefore, I need all the experience and all the education I can get.'
Sorenstam provided one of the most memorable moments in the Skins Game's 21-year history.
The 39-yard bunker shot for an eagle to win $175,000 on the ninth and final hole Saturday brought the sagging event to life. She started Sunday's play with another skin, a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole.
'I was happy to make another skin other than that fluke shot, the bunker shot I hit,' Sorenstam said.
Couples won $580,000 on Sunday, the second-largest earnings on the final nine holes in the event's 21-year history. Only Greg Norman's $1 million sweep in 2001 was larger. Couples' $605,000 is the third-largest total.
In his 10 Skins Game appearances, Couples has won a record $2.875 million. He birdied the par-3 17th hole three times on Sunday, the first one with a 55-foot putt. The other two came as part of the four playoff holes that finally resulted in Couples winning the $200,000 'Super Skin.'
'It's a fish bowl and pot luck,' Couples said of the format. 'I feel like I can pull off any shot at any time, and if I don't it doesn't take me three holes to figure my swing out. And I think the best thing that I do, I don't get flustered.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”