Annikas Motives Purely Personal

By George WhiteFebruary 13, 2003, 5:00 pm
No matter what you think about Annika Sorenstams motives in playing the Bank Of America Colonial on the PGA Tour, she wants you to know this: it is not about men, it is not a Battle of the Sexes. Its about one women who wants to find out how she will do when placed in the crucible of competition with the best golfers in the world ' period.
 
Theres certain things I can control and certain things I cant, she said, realizing that people are going to put their own spin on the situation. Id just like to emphasize that Im not putting the guys on test here - or men against women. Far from that. This is a test for me, personally.
 
So, if I can just relate that to them ' I mean, theyve got to trust me, this is why Im doing it. I wouldnt start to get into any political things, I have nothing to do with that. Thats not my goal here. Im dont want to put the guys on the defensive or anything. I just want to play against the best and see what happens.
 
Life has been a whirlwind for Sorenstam since it was announced earlier this week that she would jump out of the LPGA for one week and try the PGA Tour. Thursday night was one more distraction, with Sorenstam taking questions for an hour.
 
One theme that keeps coming through is that she will do what is best for the task at hand. Normally she goes into a tournament thinking about a win. She is going into this one blind, with the goal of just playing as well as she can.
 
I gotta believe in what I can do. I have no idea how these guys play, she said. Im going to go out there and play the course the way its set up. If I play well, I have no idea where that will put me.
 
But Im going to have a positive attitude. Thats the way youve got to approach this ' (that) this is a test. You know, if I didnt believe in myself, I wouldnt do this and I wouldnt be a professional golfer today. I love the challenges and Im gonna be aggressive.
 
Sorenstam picked Colonial because it is not overly long, but it requires players to hit all the shots. Ninety percent of the tour courses, she said, wouldnt be a candidate because of their length or because they dont have the same shot requirements. She mentioned the characteristics of a Corey Pavin, who has won the Colonial twice.
 
Youve got to be a player that can maneuver the golf ball, and have control of your shots, Sorenstam said. Corey Pavin displays exactly that ' he might not be long off the tee, but he hits in the middle of the fairway and can hit an iron to perfection onto the green next to the flag.
 
That, I believe, is my strength. I would never contend in a driving competition. That is not what I am trying to prove, I am just trying to prove that I can play a course that will fit my game and hit from A to B.
 
Driving, though, certainly isnt Sorenstams weak point. Her average last year was only 265 yards, long by LPGA standards but far down the mens tour ladder. However, she said that 265 is not a true indication of what she can do now.
 
Id like to say its longer than that (265) she said. I got this new driver in September. If you look at my average since September, Id say its higher than that. How much I dont know. In Tulsa (at an LPGA tournament late last year) I hit a few drives ' obviously my best drives ' 280, 290. I would probably average 270 if I go play today.
 
That would be more than sufficient at Colonial, where many of the doglegs mean that 260-270 yards is all a golfer can hit, anyway. Many of the men will be using long irons or a 3-wood off the tee. Sorenstam will be using the driver, and shes one of the best in the world at putting it where shes aiming.
 
And Sorenstam said that from the 7-iron on in, she hits the same club as most men. She mentioned an exhibition she played in December with David Duval, Jack Nicklaus and Lorena Ochoa. Duval and she hit the same club when they had 7-iron or less. When it was 170 yards or more, she acknowledged she needed one or two clubs more than Duval.
 
At Augusta National ' a course that plays quite long because of the hilly terrain ' Sorenstam said she shoots about even par from the middle tees, about 2 over when she plays all the way back at the tips. She hasnt played the course since it has been redone, though, she added.
 
Sorenstam admitted the thought of playing a mens event has crossed her mind for a long time now. But not until this year did she actually think it was possible.
 
My husband and I have always talked about, I wonder how you would play against the men? You know, on their golf course, she said. I watch a lot of PGA (tour) tournaments on TV, and I thought about it for a quick second. But then, the conversation would die and we wouldnt talk about it.
 
But Ive had it in the back of my mind. So when the question was asked, it wasnt totally strange to me. It was more like, Hey, I might have an opportunity! So, yeah, I would do it a heartbeat.
 
Suzy Whaley deserves the credit for making it possible, she said. The Connecticut head professional played a PGA sectional and won it, albeit from shorter tees than the men. For her efforts, she gets to play in the Greater Hartford Open. She emboldened Annika to think about an exemption for herself, Sorenstam said.
 
I think its Suzy Whaley, if something set the stage. She qualified last year and there was all the talk about her doing it. Shes a teaching professional, so therefore the discussion was, what happens if somebody who does play for a living does this? she said.
 
The Colonial is played at the end of May, prior to the Hartford tournament. Therefore, Sorenstam will have already have played in a mens event before Whaley does. But this in no way is meant to one-up Whaley, Sorenstam said. And Whaley said she is thrilled that Sorenstam gets the opportunity.
 
This has nothing to do with Suzys eligibility playing that event, Sorenstam said. She earned her right in there. This is nothing to steal her thunder, by any means.
 
She is a golfer, first and foremost, who wants to push back the envelope and see where it takes her.
 
Ive looked at myself as a golfer and said, Where do I want to take my game? What are my goals? Ive always liked a challenge.
 
You know, I really didnt look at it as making history or anything like that. This is an opportunity for me to showcase my game and see how good I am. This is a true test for me, and thats as far as Ive stretched it.

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.

Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

Those plans changed after a few weeks.

“What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

“Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

“I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.

Park kept right on attacking.

The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.

Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.

''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''

Leave that to the players chasing her.

Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).


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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.

So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.

The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.

''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''

Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.

''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''

That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.

Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.

''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''

Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.

Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.

''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''

Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.

Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.

Does anything make her nervous?

''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''

It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.