Dont Worry About Annika

By George WhiteMay 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
The first tendency is to be a little concerned over the play of Miss Annika, the icon of womens golf. The same player who once won 18 of 38 events in 2004-05 has won only once in five starts this year.
Thats the first tendency. The reality is ' settle down. Settle down. The season is still very young. She says she is hitting the ball well. Her putting has had a tendency to be up and down. But putting has a perplexing habit of coming and going with every player. In all the important facets of the game, she is right on target, she says.
Sorenstam herself is not terribly concerned. But after seeing the results of the latest tournament ' the Ginn Open where she finished seven shots behind winner Mi Hyun Kim ' you might tend to get a mite fidgety.
Since sailing to victory in her first tournament this year on the LPGA, Sorenstams results have been a bit puzzling. She let victory slip through her fingers at the event prior to the Ginn when she had the lead going into the final day, but uncharacteristically suffered an out-of-bounds tee shot on the 17th hole and finished tied for second. In the other three tournaments, including the one last week, she never was really a factor.
Holy Toledo, boss, whats going on? Well, the best guess is that this is just one of those quirky things that every athlete goes through. Last year you may recall that she went from mid-June to mid-September without a victory, a period of three months that encompassed five LPGA tournaments. She did win in her home country of Sweden at the Scandinavian TPC Hosted by Annika in August on the Ladies European Tour.
Whats the problem now? The knee-jerk reaction is to point at the large number of Koreans who have won here ' four victories in eight tournaments this year. But the more likely truth is that Sorenstam is just going through another momentary period where her putter is simply not getting the job done.
Results-wise, I'm not so pleased, she said after the Ginn. But I'm happy with the way I'm playing. I'm going to keep on grinding and hopefully it will turn around.
Of course, the results are the most important part of the game. A beautiful swing, a gorgeous 4-iron, is greatly appreciated. But at this stage of Annikas career, the only thing that really matters is victories. And at this stage of the season, both Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb have had more impressive years, as well as Seon-Hwa Lee and maybe Juli Inkster.
Last year was perhaps Sorenstams greatest year, at least in her own opinion. The 35-year-old set extremely high marks in her performance, and its been difficult at this juncture repeating them.
She tied for first in putting last year; this year, shes tied for fourth. She led the LPGA in greens in regulation last year; this year, shes tied for 13th. Last year she led the LPGA in scoring; this year shes fourth. Last year she was 12th in driving accuracy; this year shes tied for 94th. And, proof that everyone on the circuit has gotten better this year, Annika is driving the ball 268.5 yards compared to 263 last year. But she is only tied for 14th this season, while that shorter figure was T4 last year.
Of course, five tournaments is way too early to gauge a season. And Annika is readily aware of that.
I'm hoping it's turning around, I really am, she said. I have a lot of chances, I'm just not converting anything. And when you don't, then you make bogey and it's frustrating. That's how I feel it's been the last month or so.
Still, she professes to be very satisfied with the season thus far. My game, it's just up and down, a lot of birdies, a lot of bogeys. The good stuff is good, so hopefully I can eliminate the bad.

But Sorenstam is a notoriously hard worker, and the long hours she has spent on the range is paying off in at least one facet: I'm very happy the way I'm hitting my irons, probably as good as I have in a really long time, she said. So luckily that part is working great. But I think I have to fine tune it and clean it up a little bit.
She suspects that maybe her putter is causing her the most problems at this early stage of the season. But then, she says shes rolling the ball well and not just seeing it hit the cup. And she says there is no doubt that winning on the LPGA has gotten much tougher the last couple of years with the vast influx of outstanding Korean players, as well as the good young Americans.
But she, more than anyone, realizes how difficult it will be to keep turning in seasons of seven wins, nine wins, 10 wins. That may be the perception of Annika Sorenstam ' another 10-win season. But, unfortunately, that probably will not be the reality.
I've gotten a little spoiled, I must say, she said. Every year I set some goals and it's about the majors and about a few other tournaments.
But I must say that I think I've done a lot better than I expected. I have to put things in perspective. It's not necessarily all about the amount of wins I measure in the season, but the consistency is very important to me.
This year, just come out in the first event and you think, How am I going to improve from last year? That's putting a lot of pressure on myself, so I try to change the goals a little bit. I looked a lot at my stats and try to improve in different areas. If I improve there and win some majors, then it might be a better year.
And, its far too early to write off this year. The breaks, and the victories, tend to even out. And Sorenstam has been around plenty long enough to know that.
You know, when I look back on my career, I've been very fortunate, she said. A lot of times, I've been on the good side. I think, you know, this just gives me a little bit more fire, and maybe that's what I need for the rest of the season.
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.