Once Again Annikas Trophy Goes Elsewhere

By George WhiteNovember 23, 2004, 5:00 pm
Its one of the indicators that you had the best season on the LPGA Tour, this Vare Trophy thing. Its ostensibly the womens award for lowest scoring average, and this year Annika Sorenstam ' who else? ' finished better than a stroke lower than anyone.
Sorenstam broke her own scoring record by averaging 68.70. Actually, make that 68.6969. She had set the record in 2002 with 68.6973. Second place was Grace Park, who still had a very good year at 69.99. Parks average, incidentally, was only the fourth time an LPGA player other than Sorenstam had shot better than 70 over the course of a season. Annika has done it five times.
Alas, though, the LPGA wont recognize the fact that Sorenstam was having the best season from a scoring standpoint. It recognizes Park. The reason? Seems the LPGA requires 70 rounds to qualify for the Vare Trophy, and Annika had just 66.
Yes, she played the necessary number of tournaments. The ADT Championship, which she won for her eighth victory, was her 18th. That was plenty to make her eight wins another full season ' 10 if you count a couple of overseas wins. But 66 doesnt qualify by LPGA standards for the Vare. She finished four short of the required 70.
This, of course, is blatantly unfair to Sorenstam. And it doesnt seem fair to Park. She is listed as the winner of the Vare Trophy in a year in which she won just one-fourth as often as Annika ' two times. Someday when she is retired from an active playing career, Park will still have her name on the trophy for the year 2004. But Grace will know that in 2004 she did not have the best season.
But it is unfair to Park because she had an outstanding season this year, and the mention of the Vare subject will always be paired with whispers of, 'Yes, but Annika ...' The only thing Grace did wrong was she did not have an out-of-this-world season such as Sorenstam. But, outside of Vijay Singh, who did?
Actually, this is the second year it has happened to Annika. The same thing occurred last year, and the LPGA stoically sat on its hands and did nothing about the slap. Last year Se Ri Pak was given Annikas trophy because Sorenstam did not, by the LPGAs standards, play enough. That was particularly painful, she said ' especially when she didnt realize until September that she wouldnt qualify.
Its something Ive got to deal with, Sorenstam said philosophically. I always considered the Vare Trophy one of the highest awards to win throughout the year.
She, of course, knew this was going to happen - this year she did. Last year she played 17 times. Unfortunately, 17 ' or 18 in the case of 2004 ' dont add up when you are only playing three-round tournaments, which most LPGA events are. But ' I know the rules, said Annika. Got to deal with them.
Will the LPGA review the qualifications? Its doubtful, even though everything about the prestigious trophy screams review.
Definitely needs to be looked because we're going into more three-day events, Sorenstam said last November. Also, we're starting in March where we used to start in January, and you know, you are taking two months of tournament golf off like that. So you have to cram in that many tournaments, adding every other year a tournament like Solheim Cup, etc. ' it is just very tough.
I have always been for quality and not quantity. If it is a question of how much you play, then I am not going to compete in that. I like to focus on quality and win tournaments. It's sad because I think it is a very prestigious award.
Ostensibly, the award is for excellence during a season, playing to such a high standard that you score the best in the LPGA. What it comes down to is really something else ' it comes down to playing a lot of tournaments AND scoring. Somehow, that cheapens the award a little.
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x