Annika The Best Says Mallon
You know, she was a good collegiate player (at the University of Arizona), starts Mallon, very diplomatically. Sorenstam, like Mallon, didnt qualify for the LPGA immediately, having to spend a year in Europe before she could make it in the U.S. I told her, Dont worry, you can make it as a conditional player, dont worry about it, youll get in tournaments.
What she is doing now, I never would have predicted that, but certainly I knew she would be a very good player out here.
Translation: Mallon had seen about a hundred rookies come ' and go ' in her career up to that point. Sorenstam had a pretty good college career, but she hadnt done it yet in the pros. Meg didnt know if Sorenstam would make a splash on the pro scene as she had in college. A nice person ' thats Mallon ' said all the right things (Dont worry, you can make it as conditional player.) But she never, ever suspected Annika would absolutely have the LPGA as a personal plaything.
She got a hint at the 1995 Open. Sorenstam was playing in her second season and, predictably, hadnt won yet. This was the year that Mallon should have won the Open, going into the final day with a two-stroke lead on the field. But Sorenstam timidly hung tough, poking her nose out front on 13, and despite two bogeys coming in (Ive never been that nervous, she said), outdistanced Mallon to the finish line.
Yeah, I was five shots ahead of her at the U.S. Open, and - it's a good memory, Mallon said at last weeks ADT Championship. I had a putt on the last hole to tie her, but Jerry Potter (of USA Today newspaper) said I'm the one that kick-started her career (Mallon missed the birdie try). So I guess I'll take credit for that. That's the one that sticks out in my mind.
Annika, of course, doesnt get nervous much anymore. She has become the epitome of the Little Golfer That Could, whacking tee balls on line and far off into the distance, striping irons right at the flagpole, outthinking opponent after opponent. Its enough to give the LPGA cause for a shudder or two.
Certainly, you know she's not going to make a mistake, said Mallon. That's why it's hard to play her. She minimizes her mistakes better than any player in golf - all of golf. She hardly makes a mistake. So that means that you need to go out and be mistake-free or make a ton of birdies.
You know she's going to bring her best, which is why she's No. 1, and you would have to go out and play really solid golf. She's had bad days sometimes, but you can't count on that. So your mindset would be to go out and be aggressive and make birdies, definitely.
Mallon has had plenty of time to view Sorenstam up close in their nine years together now on tour. And like all Annikas opponents, Mallon has come to realize that she has a front-row seat to a slice of history. Annika is different from any other hot-shot collegian ' in fact, different from any other pro.
You know, people go out and set goals to be No. 1, said Meg. She is, I think, gone beyond her expectations. It's pretty exciting to see in this era.
I've studied our history and know what Mickey Wright did and what Kathy Whitworth did, and those years where they won, 10,11, 13 times in a year, but they were playing against 20, 30 people. That's pretty impressive, what she's doing.
Sorenstam is impressive, indeed. What shes doing is making a career out of being nearly unstoppable.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.