Girl Watching

By Brian HewittJune 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
The late Red Smith, arguably the best writer of sports in the 20th century, didn't win his Pulitzer Prize by accident. All those columns all those years for the New York Times never lost their perspective.

'I've always tried to remember,' Red said, 'and this is an old line--sports isn't Armageddon. These are just little games that little boys can play; and it isn't important to the future of civilization whether the Athletics or the Browns win.'

Smith had it right. That is for sure. It's just that he passed from the scene way too soon. These are games that little girls can play, too. And this week one of those grown up 'little girls,' Annika Sorenstam, will take her game to the U.S. Women's Open in Colorado where she will try golf her ball to within 72 holes of sports history.

Sorenstam has won the first two legs of the women's professional Grand Slam. A victory at Cherry Hills will leave her one week shy of golfing immortality.

What I like about Annika is her focus. I know that is a cliche. But she hasn't been shy about talking in public about her desire to win the Grand Slam, while all the while never forgetting to keep her eye on the ball inside the ropes.

(Actually, she takes her eye off the ball at impact. But she hits it straighter than she can point and never fails to lose sight of the immediate task at hand.)

AND....she still knows how to smile in the face of all the attendant fuss.

I believe Annika will win in Colorado this week. And at least one important reason will be the pressure on everybody else in the field. As two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen put it: The other players will feel Annika won't be making any mistakes and they will think they have to play perfect golf.

To be sure, the best rivalry in golf right now is the one between Sorenstam and Tiger Woods. When Sorenstam, who often plays and practices with Woods when both are home in Orlando, won her ninth major recently, she sent an E-mail to Woods that simply said: '9-9.'

Sorenstam was reminding Woods that she had caught up to him in the major championships count. I imagined Woods replying '10-9' last week at Pinehurst until his putter let him down late on the final day at the U.S. Open.

Now Sorenstam is poised to pass Woods. Woods struggled with his speed on the greens at Pinehurst which caused him to be unsure of his lines. It caught up to him just as he was about to catch up to Michael Campbell on the final nine holes. Woods bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes Sunday. Campbell won the championship.

Campbell, by the way, comes from a country--New Zealand--that gave us the first man--Sir Edmund Hillary--to scale Mt. Everest. Hillary's sport wasn't Armageddon either but it was definitely not for little boys or girls.

So as the Kiwis celebrate their new national hero this week in the pubs of Wellington, Auckland, Taupo and Hawkes Bay they will understand the magnitude of what their hero has achieved. They will keep it in its proper perspective.

The Swedes, meanwhile, will be keeping their eyes on their national treasure, Sorenstam. And maybe the best part of all of this is that Sorenstam, perhaps the most dominant woman athlete in the world at the moment, still plays the game with the insouciant joy of a girl.

I just wish Red Smith, who even Hemingway read on a regular basis, was still around to write about her. He would like her. And he would like her game.
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Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.