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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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


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    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.