LPGA Must Pray for Annika to Hang Em Up

By George WhiteOctober 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
The news is getting about as clichd as dog bites man. Annika Sorenstam wins for the sixth time this year (in just 15 starts). Oh ' it was the 54th time in her career that she did it ' 54 times that she broke the heart of the second-place finisher.
The LPGA rank and file must be longing for that day when Sorenstam finally hangs em up. She keeps hinting that that day may be soon, though she just turned 34 on Oct. 10. The sisterhood keeps silently waiting - at least that is what I would do if I were in their spikes.
All the right things keep coming from their mouths ' Were so fortunate to have her; Shes such a credit to the LPGA, etc, etc. You know what they want to say? How about, For Petes sake, when is she going to retire? Someone trot out the cake and lets have the going-away party tomorrow, already!!
You wonder if Annika hasnt broken the spirits of some of these promising debutants. For so long they play such exceptional golf. Then along comes Sorenstam, for one, two, three holes ' whoop whoop, a little lucky break here, a solid shot there, and what do ya know, shes done it again! Thirty-six times in the last five years shes done something very similar, and the women are flat getting tired of it.
Grace Park was the latest unfortunate. She had a wonderful round of 62 the first day of the Samsung World Championship, reserved for the LPGAs best players. She backed that up with a 67 the next day and was still ahead by three shots on the back nine Sunday.
But just as certainly as death, taxes and falsehoods in a presidential campaign, here comes Annika. She plodded along slowly but surely, never quite catching up, but never falling too far behind, either.
Then it happened so quickly ' she chipped in for an eagle on 15, followed with a gorgeous 4-iron for birdie for 17 ' and before anyone could say the LPGAs greatest player, she had won another.
Park, who had played an exceptional tournament, sounded as if she had just about had it. Shes 25 now, but she has seen this act all too often in her young career. You get ahead ' far, far ahead ' but it is seldom enough. Seems like you have to go lights out until the very end ' the final putt on the final hole of the final round. Sixty-eight holes of excellence, she already knows too well, just wont cut it.
I just knew that, you know, when you got the No. 1 player just behind you, you expect her to come back, said a downcast Park. You expect her to hang in there. And she did what she had to do, and I didn't.
Downcast? Disappointed? Disheartened? That doesnt begin to tell the story when youre trying to match up to the strengths of a Sorenstam. Park looked deep inside, and she could only come up with one descriptive phrase, one harsh reality that the whole tour has had to face when compared to Annika.
That I'm the biggest loser, said Park.
Loser? Yes, loser, she said ' capital L. Actually she has enjoyed an excellent year. But Sorenstam, it must be rememered, makes a lot of people feel that way. Annika is extremely polite, courteous to a fault ' but her golf game has a peculiar way of making a lot of womenfolk start grousing under their breaths.
This year has been very frustrating because I've come so close, Park said. Obviously, I'm very frustrated and upset with myself and disappointed. You know, I haven't felt this badly in a long time. I'm playing good golf, but just not getting it done. I don't know how many runner ups this is. It's getting a little frustrating.
For the record, Park finished second five times in 2003 ' one a playoff loss to Sorenstam in a major, the McDonalds LPGA Classic. This year the runnerup finishes have now stretched to six. Some day all those seconds may turn into wins - but that may be after Annika is gone.
Sorenstam has finished second three times herself, four times in 2003 ' but she has 12 wins to offset that. Park has two ' and 11 seconds.
Park doesnt do a very good job of hiding her feelings. Really - no comment. I don't have a comment. I fell apart and didn't get it done, and that's it, she said. She might well have been speaking for the whole womens tour.
Poor Annika ' she tries her best to win, she usually succeeds ' but she knows what she is doing is quite irksome to the ladies who must be content with second place. And she wishes she could be a bit tidier with her wins. But sometimes she just cant help but do it late on the final day.
You know, I didn't wait until the end on purpose, Sorenstam offered Sunday. I mean, I tried to get off to a hot start. It really didn't happen.
Poor Grace must silently be praying for the day ' and in the near future, if at all possible ' when this woman stashes the clubs and gets on with child-bearing or cooking or traveling or whatever. Annika has said numerous times that she doesnt plan on playing forever, you know. The rest of the ladies must wish she would stick to that promise.
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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 played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

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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Mickelson 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

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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.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.