With Winning Streak Over Annika Refocuses
Sorenstam's bid for a record sixth consecutive win fell apart in one hole Sunday afternoon. But there's another tournament this week, and her game is so strong she could start another streak any time she plays.
'I was ready to play, it just didn't happen unfortunately,' she said after ending her streak with a tie for 12th at the Michelob Ultra Open on Sunday. 'I am a little sad about that. But I will dig deep and come back next week and play well.'
The rest of the LPGA Tour should consider itself warned.
Sorenstam has long dominated the tour, winning 59 tournaments and seven player of the year awards in 11-plus seasons. But her run over the last six months has been particularly spectacular.
She arrived at the Michelob Ultra Open having won five straight tournaments, matching Nancy Lopez's record that had stood since 1978. She'd won running away and coming from behind. One of the victories was at a major championship.
She had played 43 straight rounds at par or better, and hadn't finished a tournament above par in almost two years.
But she was stymied by the rebuilt greens on Kingsmill's River Course. She finished 10 shots behind winner Cristie Kerr, giving up at least a dozen strokes on missed putts, most only a few inches off. She averaged 30 putts per round.
'I'm not going to find any excuses for it. It was totally me,' said Sorenstam, who took a longer-than-normal five-week break after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship. 'I just didn't putt very well.'
If she had, the talk this week might be about making a run at Byron Nelson's record of 11 straight victories, not starting over.
'I am disappointed, there is no doubt about it,' she said. 'I just have to start over and maybe I can do another streak.'
She certainly has the game for one. She leads the tour in greens in regulation, and is second in driving distance. At Kingsmill, her tee shots were routinely 10 or 15 yards ahead of her playing partners, and she had one that carried 300 yards.
Nothing rattles her, either. While other players struggled with winds that gusted up to 25 mph Sunday morning, Sorenstam was one of 11 players to shoot under par (69). That put her in a tie for fifth place - a pretty good leap for someone who was in danger of missing the cut after the first round.
'There is a lot of good things out there,' she said of her game. 'It's just that I couldn't really put it together. I thought I drove it well at times. I am hitting it further. I always play aggressive.
'It's gonna work, I know it will,' she added. 'It's just a matter of patience and hanging in there.'
Especially since, no offense to the rest of the tour, no one's presented much of a challenge. Old foes Karrie Webb, Grace Park and Se Ri Pak haven't been much of a factor lately. Youngsters like Natalie Gulbis are improving, but have yet to show they can stand up to Sorenstam week after week.
Kerr might be the one to make things interesting. She's made it clear she wants to be not just the best in the United States, but among the best in the world. She's second to Sorenstam on the money list and in the player of the year rankings, and the Michelob Ultra Open was her fifth career victory, fourth since the start of 2004.
And now she's finally shown she can beat Sorenstam. Her other victories came when the Swede was out of the field, and she failed in two previous chances to end Sorenstam's winning streak.
'To know that you can play that well and beat the best players in the world - perhaps be one of the best players in the world - is a great feeling,' Kerr said. 'I feel like I reached a new level in my game.'
She'll get plenty of chances to test that out in the coming weeks. Though Sorenstam refused to blame her extended break for her poor showing, she's entering a stretch where she'll be playing a lot and that can only help her game.
Plus, there are those two majors looming next month. The streak Sorenstam really wants is the grand slam, and she's already won one.
'Just because I didn't win here, I am not going to take all that away from me,' she said. 'I did win five times. I won Nabisco, which is what I wanted to do. I'm not complaining by any means. I'm just a little frustrated about the last few days. But life goes on.
'It's a new tournament next week, and hopefully I can read those greens.'
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.
Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.
As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.
"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."
Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.
Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.