A Jolting Occurrence for Annika
Annika Sorenstam has made a habit of punching peoples noses (figuratively, of course) for the better part of 10 years now. Remember, she has won 69 times of the LPGA Tour alone, 14 more around the world. Thats meting out an awfully lot of punishment to the golfing women of this world.
But maybe some of them have finally gotten tired of being beaten silly. A few of them have finally said enough to the unending procession of the Ice Queens 11-win, 10-win, eight-win seasons. Cristie Kerrs victory Sunday in Tulsa notified the world that she is officially tired of being kicked around, and shes going to try to do something about it.
Kerr went toe-to-toe, hand-to-hand, jawbone-to-jawbone with Annika Sunday. Annika had opened the tournament with a 64 Friday, which normally would be enough to scare the bejabbers out of any living opponent. But Kerr came back Saturday with a pretty impressive score of her own, putting up a 61 and taking a one-shot lead going into the final round.
Sunday, Sorenstam was her usual gritty, determined self on the front nine, erecting a one-shot lead that she stretched to two shots after a birdie at No. 10. But then something unusual happened, something you never see happen to a PGA TOUR player who has been passed on Sunday by Tiger Woods.
This time, Kerr got just as gritty as Sorenstam. This time, Kerr rallied with four birdies of her own on the back nine. And this time, Kerr won by two shots.
We're all becoming a lot more competitive with her, said Kerr, because we're getting better. I think people are starting to realize, Hey, you know what - we don't have to play under pressure, we don't have to give it away and give it to her just because she is the best player in the world.
Let her stand up for herself and play great golf and see what kind of a match you can make out of it. I think everybody has really gotten more competitive.
Annika wasnt about to make it easy. She hit every fairway Sunday in her attempt to win the 70th time on tour. She did nothing wrong the back nine. She was just out-putted and outplayed.
And Annika, being the classy individual that she has always been, had nothing but praise for Kerr. 'All the credit goes to Cristie,' she said. 'That (Kerr's performance) is extraordinary on a Sunday on a course that could hold a major.
'I've been saying the competition is getting tougher out there. The players are getting better. Just look at the stats.'
The PGA TOUR would do well to take notice. So many times when Tiger has suddenly reared up on the final day and bared his teeth, the opposition has shriveled. Not saying that the men have suddenly gone into hiding ' maybe they try TOO hard when Tiger is running alongside them. But whatever the reason, they dont get the job done.
And normally, its the same with Annika. But maybe Kerr and Company are getting tired of continually being the punching bags.
Kerr herself at one time was the bully of the neighborhood. As a junior player, she won everything. She chose to forego college, immediately going from high school in Miami to the LPGA.
And just like being doused with ice water, she had to learn her lesson ' its a far, far cry from being the queen of the hill in juniors to being top dog on the LPGA. And her LPGA career has been one huge picture of looking at Annika from the rear.
But while she has deep respect ' as does everyone ' for all that Sorenstam has accomplished, she says that she is not intimidated.
It's something that I've grown out of, said Kerr. I've realized the dynamic of people playing golf and all that stuff. It's been a really long time since I've been intimidated.
But that comes with age, it comes with winning tournaments, it comes with having success, it comes with believing in yourself - all those different things at once.
For the record, Sorenstam is still Sorenstam. She recorded 12 under par for the tournament last week, and that is still the best mark that has ever been posted. Oh ' except for one person ' Cristie Kerr.
I didn't make any mistakes, said Annika. When I walk away from here, I think I've got to give myself credit for that. I didn't really give away any shots. Maybe I could have made a few more, but it's all about mistakes, too, and I didn't make many.
And Kerr has been punched in the chops by Annika often enough that she no longer has any feeling. In short, she now just plays golf ' and apparently has done it fairly well.
I don't put pressure on myself to have to do this, she said. I just play golf and try to compete again.
The men of the PGA TOUR will have to finally learn this, or they will be pushed around by Tiger until he is too feeble to swing a club. The women may finally have gotten it ' at least Kerr seems to have.
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
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.
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.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
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.”
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.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
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.
''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.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
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.
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.