Putting Could Be Annikas Trapdoor

By George WhiteMay 6, 2003, 4:00 pm
A gentle reminder to Annika Sorenstam: the Bank of America Colonial is now just three weeks away. You, of course, will be playing, the first female to participate in a PGA Tour tournament since the Babe way back in 1945. And the LPGA faithful are getting a little ' er, shall we say, restless.
Here are the facts: Annika has played in five tournaments this year. She has won once, a month ago at the Office Depot. She has a couple of runners-up and a third. And last week she finished sixth ' not bad, certainly, but her lowest finish of the year.
Normally, there is nothing wrong with sixth. In fact, there is nothing wrong with a win, two seconds and a third in your first five tournaments. But the boys are around the corner, and you had best have your A game ready to go. A lot of people are waiting
Last year after five tournaments, Sorenstam had won twice and lost a playoff for a third. In fact, she had won six times by the time she had played 12 times. Talk about bursting out of the gates like a white tornado!
This year, though, she hasnt been quite so dominating. Maybe its because of the male tour thing and all the work she has put into her preparation. Maybe she isnt concentrating on what she is doing each time she puts a peg in the ground. Maybe ' well, there's no plausible excuse, really. But shes got to do better in order to make a mark on the PGA Tour.
Mark it all down to one glaring statistic ' 29.89 putts per round.
Everything else is right where it is supposed to be. She was averaging better than 280 yards per drive until last week, which was the best in the LPGA. A poor week left he at 275.4, but that still ranks her a little less than average on the PGA Tour last year, about even with Scott Hoch, Len Mattiace, Scott Verplank, Brad Faxon she definitely can launch it out there.
She leads the LPGA in greens in regulation, hitting almost 80 percent of them. Furyk leads the men at 74 percent. Now, hitting an LPGA green is not the same as hitting a PGA Tour green. The men are hitting from a greater distance and generally have to contend with more rough. But hitting greens isnt going to be Annikas problem, either. Say she would be hitting 70 percent of the greens on the mens tour as opposed to 80 percent on the LPGA , and she would still be in the top 20 among the lads.
But 29.89 putts per round? Not good enough. She can bulk up all she wants. She can be as accurate with her irons and bomb the living daylights out of her driver ' but as long as she is not better than 29.89, she cant make the cut at Colonial. Twenty-nine-point-eighty-nine would leave her 177th amongst the men, and putting is one place you can really compare the two tours.
Its a little surprising because putting is where the women should have it all over the men ' especially someone who practices like Sorenstam does. Last year she was still not good, but she did average 29.66, a shot better per tournament than this year. But putting is where ' up to now ' the breakdown has occurred.
That is only going to be exacerbated by the huge throngs on hand at Colonial.
Sorenstam is unsure what to expect at Fort Worth, but heres a hint ' it will be overwhelming. She is a strong lady and she wont be easily intimidated. But such microscopic scrutiny would get anyone down after a couple of days. Tiger Woods himself wont see such a convention as Annika will at Colonial.
I dont know how much (publicity) will be coming my way, she said. Ive had a lot the last two months. You know, obviously I know something big is going to happen at Colonial and I look forward to it. I would never do it if I didnt expect all this hoopla around it.
Were it just an event, were Annika not a woman, were it not a 10-ring circus atmosphere, the odds against Sorenstam succeeding would not be nearly as great. But if she falls, the putter will undoubtedly be her trapdoor.
She hits it far enough and she hits it straight enough. Her mind is her inner strength, making her as apt to do well as any other golfer. The exception is the smallest club in the bag. She hasnt done well enough this year with it to play on Saturday and Sunday.
If she is going to have to scramble - as every other golfer does at Colonial - she will have to rely on her putter. Obviously, twenty-nine-point-eighty-nine wont get the job done.
Getty Images

The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

A post shared by theCHIVE (@thechive) on

Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

A post shared by Under Armour Golf (@uagolf) on

The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

Getty Images

Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

Getty Images

Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)