Annika Calm Amid Chaos

By Brian HewittNovember 21, 2008, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. ' We were surprised earlier this year when Annika Sorenstam told us she would be stepping away from golf.
 
We were surprised Friday when Sorenstam couldnt find it in her Hall of Fame game to rally past the 36-hole cut of the ADT Championship at Trump International.
 
And we were surprised after her final round of her final tournament to learn that the LPGAs random drug testing program had selected perhaps the best player in the history of the womens game to provide a urine sample despite passing an LPGA drug test last month.
 
Pathetic, said Sorenstams fianc, Mike McGee, when he learned his wife-to-be was about to be tested. I dont know what theyre trying to prove.
 
Turns out, according to the LPGA, it wasnt trying to prove anything. Its drug testing protocol, according to general counsel Jill Pilgrim, doesnt give it any leeway.
 
If we dont follow that protocol, Pilgrim said, we are legally liable. So, she said, there was no consideration given to letting Sorenstam off the hook in this instance even though she passed another random drug test just last month. More specifically, Pilgrim explained, if a player who failed a drug test, found out another player ' even Annika Sorenstam in her last event ' was given a free pass on a test, that player would have a pretty good lawsuit.
 
Only time will tell whether this will develop into yet another public relations nightmare for the star-crossed LPGA.
 
But for now, this day and this week is all about the departure of Sorenstam who played in 303 events, posted 209 top-10s and won 72 times.
 
This week was, to use the word of IMG's Mark Steinberg, historic.
 
It just wasnt memorable, at least not on the golf course where Annika struggled with her short game, carded a 36-hole total of 5-over 149 and failed to advance in an event she has won four times previously
 
Sorenstams last LPGA event in the United States before stepping away to get married and start a family wasnt memorable on the course because it was so frustrating.
 
My wife and I are Swedish, said a man in the gallery. And we are here to support Annika. But we are not doing a very good job.
 
His observation came during Fridays front nine. Sorenstam made the turn in a ragged 3-over-par 39. At that point her standing in the ADT Championship was 5 over. And her chances of advancing to Saturdays third round were dimmer than the lights on Wall Street.
 
Steinberg, who is Sorenstams agent and the head of IMGs golf division, followed Annika outside the ropes this week. So did McGee, and her parents, Tom and Gunilla.
 
But nobody was more frustrated than Sorenstam herself. She struck the ball beautifully in Thursdays first round but carded a 2-over 74 because she needed 33 putts.
 
Fact is, she has struggled with her putter for the better part of two years now. And she needed to heat up with the flat stick Friday. If she had been a great putter, she would have won 20 more tournaments, said her long-time caddie, Terry McNamara. McNamara has been on Sorenstams bag since 1999. He and Annika are extremely close professionally and he meant his remark as a compliment.
 
Asked after Fridays round if he thought his daughter would return to professional golf one day, Tom Sorenstam ' somewhat surprisingly ' said, No.
 
But, he added, she has always surprised him.
 
For her part, Sorenstam was just short of eloquent.
 
A sampling of comments from her post-round press conference:
 
  • Whats been the coolest thing this week is all these people that showed up I just didnt know who they were.
     
  • (On her lack of tears) Its almost that a tear wants to come out, but its not really coming out. I think its because Im very happy with what Ive done. You know, Im content. Ive said all along I feel good.
     
    Finally, Annika mentioned that she will be giving the commencement address at the University of Arizona, where she played her college golf, in December for that schools winter graduation ceremony.
     
    I think its pretty ironic to finish the year giving a speech, something that I dreaded when I started playing, she said. So what can I say? Its coming around. Ive changed. The game has changed me, and Im glad.
     

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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    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.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    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

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    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.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    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.