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.
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.