Annika Back in Contention

By George WhiteJuly 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
Theres one day left in the 2006 U.S. Womens Open, and for yet another womens major, the situation is the same as it has been for roughly 10 years ' that is, Annika Sorenstam is solidly in the thick of it.
Sorenstam shadow-boxed with the Newport Country Club Saturday and came out even-steven with the par number. She shot a 71, with two birdies and two bogeys. In case youre wondering, thats pretty solid golf considering the course is soggy, the ball hits the ground and stops, meaning the course is playing very long. Throw in a very healthy breeze blowing constantly, and you have a recipe ready-made for high scores.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is in search of her 10th career major championship title.
Example: Annika has averaged 267 in driving distance throughout the year. However, the sloppy fairways this week have cut down on any roll and she has averaged almost 20 yards less ' 248.8.
This is a tough golf course, declared Sorenstam, especially with the conditions we have. I mean, we're getting no roll whatsoever; it's a really long golf course. The rough is thick, and the pins, I think, are quite tough. You just come here for the biggest challenge that we have throughout the year.
You really have got to drive it well, got to hit your long irons well and you've got to putt well and have a good short game. This is a true test, and all parts of the game have got to work for you to score. Par sometimes is a good (score), especially when we have wind like we did today. It's two to three clubs at times, and it's really a true test.
Sorenstam has hit a speed-bump on her run to the 88-win plateau set by Kathy Whitworth. Shes been stuck on 67 since the first tournament of the year, which she won. She has nine major championships over-all, but none this year. That sounds like a very harsh analysis of Annikas play this year. But, after all, she has set the bar very high, and so much more is expected of her than an average player.
Well, she said, its been a good run for a few years, so I think everybody pushes everybody. I think Im pretty good at setting some goals. I think Im pretty good at pushing myself and trying to reach levels.
If you look at the game today, womens golf is better than its ever been. Im thankful for the people that paved the way early on for me and showed me how its done. And Id like to say Im one of the ones thats done it for the next generation.
She let it be known, though, that she still thinks she can do plenty to keep the present generation aware that she can still play - really play.
I don't think I'm over the hill by any means. I feel like I have a lot more to give and achieve, and that's really what keeps me going, she said.

If you have somebody like Juli (Inkster), when I was around she probably was in the same situation as I am now. You see new generations of young players coming. I think it's really great to see how many young good players there are. It's how good the game is and how much women's golf is growing and how popular the LPGA is growing. I'm happy to be part of it and I'm competitive as ever; whether it's Paula Creamer or Juli Inkster standing with me on the last hole, I have a chance to win and I'll give it my best.
She faces a 36-hole final day Sunday, since heavy fog wiped out the entire first day Thursday. Sorenstam engages in a concentrated physical fitness program, ensuring that she can handle the rigors of a 36-hole tour of duty. Mentally, however, there is that taxing little problem of whether the mind can handle 10 hours of concentration.
For me, its going to be the mental part more than the physical part, said Annika. Its just can you stay focused for all those shots. If its windy, then you have to think so much more about the different shots. So I think that by late in the day well all be exhausted.
The physical aspects of it, though ' rather she is better able to handle a 36-hole day ' do not necessarily mean she is the favorite. Can Annika at 35 years of age be more physically fit than someone who is in her early 20s? She doesnt think about that ' but she DOES know that she is ready at last to win another major.
When I come out tomorrow (Sunday), Im going to feel like Im ready, she said.
I know that its not going to be something that I cant handle. I know that Im not going to have to worry about the physical part. All I have to worry about is hitting good shots, picking the right clubs and making some putts. Thats all Im going to worry about. The other part is just going to come and Ill be fine.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.