Annikas Floundering - But Why

By George WhiteJune 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 U.S. Womens OpenNEWPORT, R.I. -- Uh ' its about Annika. Something is obviously amiss.
 
I know, I know ' youre saying, Boy, I wish I were in the position she is in! Annika has played in nine tournaments this year, and shes already won one and finished tied for second two other times.
 
That, though, is an insult to Annika Sorenstam if you think those are outstanding Annika numbers. Annika is used to winning every two or three times she plays ' last year she won 10 of 20 LPGA events she entered, and in 2004 it was eight wins in 18 tries. This year, as she enters U.S. Womens Open week, she has won one of nine. Now, do you see what I am saying?
 
Annika, by the way, is not Tiger Woods. When Tiger was plodding along in 2004 with only one win, he was offended by anyone who suggested the word slump. Sorenstam willingly accedes to the characterization ' call it a slump, a stumble, whatever, she knows she isnt playing as well as should be rightly expected.
 
Annika is having real problems controlling her driver this season. This year she is 79th in driving accuracy, while last year she was eighth. This year, she is 10th in greens-in-regulation, whereas last year she was first. And this year she is 62nd in putting. Last year, she was 29th.
 
Sorenstam is 35 now, an age when you might expect a golfer to start tailing off a little. Perhaps that has something to do with it, perhaps not. There are some who say that her new romance must have an untoward effect of her golf. But last year she went through an event far more emotional ' a divorce ' and you saw how big an effect that had. Ten wins doesnt seem to me like it had much.
 
Well, I mean, obviously, I don't use that word (slump) myself, she says. And I'm one of few players that won this year, so I think, in a way, I take it as a compliment because I have set the standard very high. The bar has obviously gotten a lot higher and I have high expectations of myself.
 
So one out of nine I think I have played, and yes, it might not sound like the greatest season so far. But I have not played half the tournaments yet, and let us just see how the season turns out. We cannot forget that the competition gets better every year as well, and the way I look at it, I have not really played my best. So what can I say other than I keep on working and try and get better.
 
But, having cautioned that there is plenty of time to get on a hot streak, she conceded the obvious. I am not even playing close to what I did last year, she said.
 
I mean, I am having some good rounds, and I think that is what I meant by it has been kind of a roller coaster ride. I have had several good rounds in a tournament, but I havent had three or four - which is what you need. Last year, I was very consistent every week.
 
Now I miss fairways, I have missed some greens, and then the next round, I hit a lot of fairways and I might not be able to score. So it is kind of funny, it just goes a little bit up and down at the moment, and I just keep on going because I know what I am capable of and I think like anything in life, it kind of has a plateau. I hit a little plateau at the moment and I am trying to find a way how to get to the next step and keep on cruising, the way I did a few years ago.
 
This year, of course, there are more players capable of winning than last year. And last year, there were more capable than the year before. Even for an Annika Sorenstam, marching promptly to the winners circle hasnt been quite as easy.
 
Oh, it's totally getting tougher, every year, she said. I'd like to say the last five years, you've seen a lot of players from all around the world and especially Korea. They have a lot of talent and they seem to do really well once they get to the top on the leaderboard and they seem to stay there.
 
So it does get tougher every year, and having said that, I mean, I've got to get better. I've got to get more consistent, so it takes a lot more hard work and you have to really, really play your best to have a chance to win nowadays.
 
The difficulty is, she cant tell that there is that much difference in the way she feels. She plays her round and she cant tell that much has changed. But the numbers dont lie, and the numbers say that last year she was playing a couple of strokes better per round than she has been able to achieve this year.
 
I feel good about my game, said Annika. That's the funny part, I go out there and I feel as good as ever. And when I'm done after 18 holes, the results are not there.
 
So you know, I guess I feel disappointed because it feels good.

Shes tried everything on the golf course. But is it something OFF the golf course? That is something she admits shes looked at. She admits that she has spread her tentacles into many different areas. What she cant say is that any involvement has affected her golf.
 
I mean, obviously my divorce is behind me and now I'm working forward and there's a lot of positive things in my life, she says.
 
I'm working on different projects. I'm opening a golf school in less than a year. I've started to do some golf course design. I'm working on a fitness DVD. I have a lot of little projects on the side and that's keeping my interest level up there.
 
Not to say that it was really low, but I've been out here on Tour for a while and it's very tough to stay on top and it's tough to push yourself all the time. And then all of a sudden I have something else to kind of catch my interest and I'm staying very busy with that.
I'm working with a guy to help me make Annika a brand. I'm trying to get into the business world. And it's a lot of fun. I'm a total beginner, but I'm learning a lot and it's another challenge that I'm looking forward to.
 
And no, the answer is not that she feels she is spreading herself too thin.
 
I get that a lot, Annika said. I'm happy with what I'm doing. This is what's important to me at the moment. I want to wake up in the mornings and I want to be excited to do different stuff. If it's golf, if it's putting a business plan together or if it's hiring somebody for the school, I love that.

I think personally that there's a way that I can combine the two. That's what I'm working on. I still believe I can be the best out here and continue to have the success I've had doing the other stuff on the side.
 
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