Annika Unplugged - For a Brief Little Moment

By George WhiteDecember 10, 2001, 5:00 pm
And you thought Annika Sorenstam was this icy little Swede who couldnt - or wouldn't - verbalize an emotional thought. Frankly, so did I.
Annika stopped by the Golf Channel offices earlier this month to chat with Peter Kessler on Golf Talk Live. For those of you who didnt tune in, you missed a woman who was very open in explaining her quiet celebrations over yet another golfing success, her fears over what can go wrong, the personal feelings of the rivalry with Karrie Webb, and her difficulties with charisma. As she opened up, she revealed what it is like in the shady world of womens golf ' shady because so many men never think its worthwhile to go there, but shady also because not many women are as totally forthcoming as Sorenstam was.
We learned that she received a personal note after she shot 59 this spring ' from Karrie Webb. It was a warm, sincere note from one woman to another, amongst two women who are pitted against each other in every way by the golfing public. Under such pressures its hardly possible for a close friendship to develop. But seeing the note, stuck in her locker following the magical round, brought a new appreciation of Webb from Sorenstam.
She has been very supportive, said Annika, realizing that there was no reason for the letter other than one woman bowing in submission ' at least for a day ' to another.
When I got that note and when I read it, I almost got tears because it has come from somebody who is that good of a player. She kind of respected what I did and let me know. I thought that was very ' that was first class.
That the two are the best players in womens golf is apparent. That the two are also rather private is apparent. So are 95 percent of us. We want our heroes to be large in every possible way, from hitting a 6-iron two feet from the cup to describing the shot with great verbiage. Sometimes its just a manner of being, like Tiger Woods or Fred Couples. Sometimes its a matter of speaking, like Fuzzy Zoeller or Paul Azinger. But sometimes ' by far the majority of the time ' its just a matter of stepping up and hitting the ball, and not really much else. Which is where Sorenstam and Webb fit it.
You know, if Karrie were kind of the clown and wanted to do the show, I would be all for it, Sorenstam said. I would be in the background cheering her on.
'But, as Ive always said, were here to play golf, and you can only be the one that you are. We both hear that a lot, that were so quiet and were quite boring. But I do what I love to do. I love to play the game. I feel very fortunate. Theres not a day in my life where I complain about what I do, because I just want to wake up and go play golf.
Sorenstam is not really that serious, of course. She related a funny little personal story about the World Championship in 1992, and some itching powder that was applied to Coach Pia Nelsons clothing. It would have been hilarious had Sorenstam reported that only she and Nelson were involved. But Annika dutifully added the we, indicating that maybe she was just one of several gals who pulled the prank. But ' hey, Annikas got a little humor in her.
Sorenstam is indeed driven. She has been driven for a long time. And she admitted it is important for her to excel, not just one who makes a decent check and shows up the next week after week after week.
Its ' its something Ive had inside for so long, she said. But its something thats grown in the last few years
I learned a lot about my golf game (since coming on Golf Talk Live before in 95). I learned a lot about myself, knowing what I could do, and that I enjoy pushing myself, seeing the challenges.
Thats what drives me today. I still get the butterflies on the first tee. I still get sweaty hands, and my heart pumps a lot going down the 18th. But I know what winning is all about now, and thats a feeling that I like.
What she said that was most priceless, however, is that she never takes winning for granted. She approaches each victory like it was her first one ' or at least she tries to. She sometimes has to rush out to the next tournament way too quickly. But at the end of the year, theres always a little personal time to think what she has accomplished. She sits and just reflects for a moment, all alone, by herself in her quiet time.
When I do have time off, I look at my trophies, she said. I look at my stats. Thats when I remember everything. Thats when it sinks in.
Actually, its those times alone, maybe just her and her husband, that grow more and more important as each year goes by. She says she truly enjoys being a homebody. I enjoy working in the garden, being a housewife. Its kind of nice to be home and take care of the house a little bit.
I do know that I dont want to travel when Im done playing. Itd be nice to be in one place and be at home and ' and just live life a little bit.
Sorenstam opened up just a bit and let the world peek in. It was Annika being Annika. The golfing miss could let the public see what its like being Annika Sorenstam. And what it is ' is something that's pretty special.
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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.