Dont Tell Annika She Cant - She Knows She Can
I really dont know what Ive gotten myself into, the shy Swede said.
How could she know that, just seven years later, she would have turned that one win into 40 wins? She won again last week at the Samsung World Championship, and it was the ninth ' yes, ninth ' time she has won this year. Its been difficult because she has had to learn to overcome a basically reserved personality. But she did, and actually her remark could be turned around to include the entire LPGA ' the women didnt really know what THEY had gotten into.
She says she will play in all five of the events remaining on the schedule, if she has a chance to break Mickey Wrights record. That record, incidentally, is 13 wins in one season.
It was set almost 40 years ago, in 1963. Womens golf wasnt nearly as universal then. Representation is so much more global now with tough competition coming not just from the Americans and the Swedes, but also from the Koreans and the Britons. Sorenstam doesnt say it, but winning is much more difficult that it was in 1963, the excellence of Wright notwithstanding. But Annika doesnt want any records standing in her way.
The record first crossed her mind when it became believable, when she first dared dream that she might do it. A lot of people shy away when the numbers begin to loom larger and larger. Annika didnt, and even though she probably wont get there this season, that figure still is squarely in her eyes. She now knows that Wrights 13 is possible.
I didn't think about the records until last year when I won eight times, and I looked in the books and saw what have the other ladies done, she said. Then this year, I wanted to beat last year. So now that I'm here, I know what the great players have done before.
She credits hubby David Esch with opening her eyes to the stark reality that she might be the one. It IS doable, she now knows. Why give up when there still is that small chance that you can at least tie, or maybe break, the record?
My husband said, You can break this record, what are you waiting for? she said. He was right. I knew I'd better add one (tournament) and that would give me another chance to do it. I'm going to go full force these last few events. And the way the schedule is next year, we're not starting until March, so that gives me a break. Why would I want to be home resting?
Well, why indeed? Hey, people are out there in front of her. Theres Wrights record of 13. Theres Kathy Whitworth and a record of 88 wins in a career. She still has plenty to play for. And she hasnt forgotten it.
I can improve in every area, I believe, she said, in the utmost simplicity. There are 18 holes out there. And I've said before that a 54 is possible, and that means you birdie every hole. Why should you limit yourself? I haven't shot 54, but I've shot 59, and you've got to break some barriers. The sky is the limit, that's what my caddie always tells me.
Once you get it in your head that it's okay, then you can perform. When you say, 'It may never be broken,' then you might start to believe it. I don't believe in those things. It's possible, and that is what keeps me going forward.
Shhhh ' dont tell her that she wont win 13 in a season. Dont mention that 88 in a lifetime is impossible. She thinks she can win 15 in a season and 90 in a lifetime. If you must maintain your grip on reality, then keep in to yourself. Sorenstam is not into bragging ' not at all. But these are the records, someday they are bound to be broken, and it might as well her.
And yes, Tiger has been an inspiration to keep digging. He won for the first time in 96 and has 34. Annika won for the first time in 95 and has 40. They are just about even
I've always had this attitude, but it's fun to see someone else doing great things. I have a lot of respect for Tiger, and he does inspire me. When he does some of the things that he's done, I want to go practice. I want to try, she said. And by now, it must be mentioned that Woods will have to hurry to keep up.
Along the way to 40, Sorenstam has changed a little personally, as well as a whole lot professionally. She isnt as shy. She isnt as reserved. Her exterior has gotten harder. She knows she is good, even though she still wont come out and say it. But she likes the player that she has become.
I trust my ability, she said quietly. I know that it's not a fluke that I won two Opens in a row. It's more than that. I'm comfortable with that stuff now. I feel good about my game. I know I can't win every tournament on the planet, but I know I have the game I want. I can still improve and that's fine with me.
She can improve, just as Jordan could still improve with a basketball. As great as he was, he still missed more than 40 percent of his shots. Sorenstam still wins less than half the time she tees it up. And until she wins 100 percent of the time, she will keep plugging. Yes, she still has more goals.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.