Sorenstams Day a Huge Success

By George WhiteMay 22, 2003, 4:00 pm
FORT WORTH, Texas -- At long last, after months of debating and comparing and wondering, the moment was here ' the Great Gender Experiment. Annika Sorenstam was the subject, and she appeared to be weary of it all, though excited.
 
So she got up to the No. 10 tee ' her first hole of the first round ' and cracked her 4-wood solidly down the middle. She followed the flight of the ball as it rose in the cloudy sky, then smiled broadly. She dipped her knees in mock relief, then pointed toward her caddie. For the first time in 58 years, a woman had struck a ball in a PGA Tour event.
 
Im very proud, said Sorenstam, who was doing something that no woman had done since Babe Zaharias in 1945 at Tucson. And she shot 1-over 71.
 
This has been an incredible week in so many ways, she said.
 
I feel like this is almost more than I can handle. So, therefore, Im just thrilled that Im in. On the first tee, I kept telling myself, Trust yourself, you can do it. I just had one swing thought, and that was to just take it easy from the top, and it worked all day. I kept saying that to myself over and over again. And thats what I needed to distract myself.
 
She was shorter than the men she played with ' something everyone expected. But she hit all but one of the fairways and she was plenty long enough to hit the greens in regulation.
 
The way this course is set up, these bunkers ' they come into play when I hit driver, explained Sorenstam. The guys I played with (Dean Wilson and Aaron Barber), they hit the ball farther. They can carry the bunkers.
 
So if I can carry over the bunkers, obviously I would love to do that. My strategy is just to stay out of the rough, stay out of the bunkers. And Im hitting 4-wood off the tee. And on No. 6 (393 yards), Im hitting 4-wood, 7-iron. And I would rather hit 7-iron from the fairway than 9-iron from the bunker.
 
So Im playing safe on a lot of holes. But that Ive got to do. This course is so much longer than Im used to and for the longer club in, Im shooting for the center of the green. So that was my strategy all day long.
 
As expected, her bugaboo was putting. She missed a six-footer that would have given her a birdie at the par-3 16th ' her seventh hole of the day. She three-putted No. 5 (her 14th) from in excess of 50 feet, missing a six-footer for par and making bogey. And at her final hole of the day, she three-putted from off the green, missing an eight-footer for par.
 
Annika totaled 35 putts, but used the putter 37 times. Two times she pulled the putter from off the green. One of those times, she made birdie.
 
But those mistakes were countered by excellent tee shots throughout the day -- as seen in her accuracy off the tee. And she showed an uncanny knack for delivering her approach shots to the green.
 
Im very content with my round, she said in reflection. Yeah, in a perfect world, I left a few putts out there. But under the circumstances, I knew I was going to make some mistakes, and if these are the mistakes I make, Ill take them.
 
She met every challenge and excelled beautifully. At the Horrible Horseshoe, where the holes are 476 yards (No. 3), 246 yards at the par-3 fourth, and 470 yards (No. 5), she survived in 1-over par. And she beat Fulton Allem, one of her biggest detractors, shooting 71 to 75 for Allem.
 
Duffy Waldorf said it wasnt a gender issue, though.
 
A lot of people think this is a mens vs. women issue, he said. I dont. I consider it a competitive issue. And I obviously want to do as well as I can. I got to play the golf course, and then at the end, we add them up and see who has the lowest score.
 
But honestly, Im not playing directly against them. I consider her to be just another competitor in the field.
 
Sorenstam doesnt want it to be a gender issue, either.
 
I knew that Im here to play for myself and Im on my own and Ive got to do it, Annika said. And when I came here Im not afraid of the challenge. Im nervous, and I knew I was going to be nervous. But Im not afraid. Because at the end the day, its just a game. Im very thankful and feel lucky that I do what I love to do.
 
Wilson and Barber were extremely supportive of Sorenstam, and she said that made the ordeal much easier. They spoke to her often, keeping her nerves from getting the best of her. She said she wants to thank them ' publicly.
 
We said a lot of things, but one thing that I will always remember is Aaron (Barber) came up to me on the putting green today and he said, Remember, were in this together, said Annika. And I said, Youre right.
 
So he was as nervous as I was. And he asked me, When is this going to go away? And I said, I dont know.
 
Its the same on every hole. I thought that was pretty sweet of him. But also, we talked a lot and he said, This is great preparation for future tournaments. And I told him, This is what youll see when you go in the last group at the Masters.
 
And he laughed, and I laughed, and it was fun.
 
Related Links:
  • Full-field scores from the Bank of America Colonial
  • Full coverage of the Bank of America Colonial
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.