Annika Knocks Down the Record
But she has one thing that no one else among women professionals has ' the record. She shot a 59 in the second round of the Standard Register Ping tournament Friday at Phoenix. Her sister, Charlotta, who won the tournament last year, was a most interested spectator on every shot, playing in the same pairing as Annika.
While 59 has been shot a handful of times on the PGA Tour and Nike (now Buy.Com) Tour, its always been a mystery why 61 was the lowest score shot on the LPGA Tour. Most people thought a big hitter would do it, since so many of the LPGAs courses are set up relatively short. Fire away at those par-5s, throw in a birdie or two on a couple of short par-3s, then whittle away at enough par-4s to do the trick.
Annika Sorenstam does not rate as a big hitter on the womens tour - shes not short by any means, but shes certainly no gorilla. And save length, when she reached the magical number of 59 at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, she used every other bit of skill entrusted to her.
Interesting, isnt it, that the men who fired 59s were no gorillas, either. David Duval certainly qualifies as long, but he isnt in that animal category yet. Neither were Al Geiberger or Chip Beck. Ditto for the Buy.Com gents, Doug Dunakey and Notah Begay.
Sorenstam started with eight straight birdies on Nos. 10 through 17 ' her front side. She let No. 18 get by with just a par ' how could she do such a thing? But then she was right back at it again with birdies on the first four holes of the front with sister Charlotta Sorenstam and Meg Mallon watching ' Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.
By then she had birdied 12 out of 13 holes. The clincher was at the final par 5, the eighth, her 17th. The shortest par-5 on the course at 476 yards, Annika put it right in the middle of the green in two big whacks. Her putt for eagle was agonizingly short by an inch, but she easily tapped in for the magical birdie.
Fifty-eight was very much within her reach as she drove it on 18. She had just 112 yards to the flag after her tee shot. Her caddy advised her to play a little right of the pin, a safe area of the green, but Sorenstam refused. She went right at the flag, and was rewarded with a shot 15 feet away.
Her birdie looked good all the way. But it turned ever so slightly right at the hole, leaving a short little tap for the 59.
Sorenstam has strung together some pretty impressive scores in the past. She tied the previous low score of 61, 11-under-par, in 1999 in the first round of the Sara Lee Classic. But never had she approached the magical 59.
She did it all Friday. Several times she made putts from 20 feet and beyond. Her driving was pure perfection, and she was a precise machine with her irons. Along the way she also set a record for the low 36 holes on the LPGA, 20-under-par.
Her strong suit has for a long time been accuracy with the irons. Since 1996, she has always been around the top in greens hit in regulation. In `96, she was second; 1997, third; 98, first; 99, second; 2000, first again; this year, entering this tournament, she was second.
Her accuracy off the tee is almost as good. The last five years she has been no worse than 17th in driving accuracy. This year she was 12th as the Phoenix tournament began.
Sorenstams only downfall is her putter, which can go cold at times. She was among the best until a couple of years ago, when she began missing an occasional three-footer, last year dropping to 122nd on the putting charts. That primarily is the reason she was surpassed by Karrie Webb as the top player in the game.
A 59, though, is the absolute, that one special day when everything goes right, when every club feels like a feather, when every hole you aim at looks like a washtub. Annika Sorenstam had such a day Friday.
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Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall
Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.
Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.
After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.
Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.
Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.
On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.
The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.
Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings
Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.
Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.
Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.
Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Brooks Koepka
3. Justin Thomas
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Matt Kuchar
6. Brian Harman
7. Gary Woodland
8. Rickie Fowler
9. Chez Reavie
10. Bubba Watson
11. Phil Mickelson
12. Patrick Reed
On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:
Ryder Cup Points
1. Justin Rose
2. Tyrrell Hatton
3. Ross Fisher
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
1. Jon Rahm
2. Tommy Fleetwood
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Rory McIlroy
Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank
Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.
|T26||Rafael Cabrera Bello||-2||$46,996|
|T37||Charles Howell III||-1||$33,120|
|T60||Harold Varner, III||3||$15,696|
|T68||Tyrone van Aswegen||7||$14,400|
After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...
I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.
Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.
The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner
On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...
After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.
Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.
The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray
On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...
The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.
Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.
That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard
On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...
The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.
The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell