What Else Can You Say Its Annika
There ' thats the only negative with another Annika Sorenstam storybook season. She won victory No. 7 over the weekend at the Mizuno Classic. Oh ' it was the fourth consecutive time she has won this tournament. And yes, thats a record.
Annika has now outlasted Tiger Woods as the most impressive story in golf. Tiger is somewhere in the top five. Annika is No. 1, as she has been for the past four years. The problem, of course, is that shes No. 1 in the LPGA, and that makes for an awfully quiet announcement. Annika Sorenstam is the greatest womens golfer at least since Mickey Wright 40 years ago, undoubtedly deserving of a much bigger fanfare. But she does much of her sterling stuff in relative anonymity ' hasnt that always been the plight of women golfers?
There is Michelle Wie, and then there are a whole bunch of women who play along at the game. Annika is admittedly the best-known, simply by virtue of her remarkable feats. Wies tender age (15) has been her prime calling card, though she unquestionably can play this game. But its quite difficult to always know what is transpiring with Annika, outside of the bare scores and the wins which now come at almost a one-in-two clip.
She won the Mizuno in Japan by nine strokes. Yes, I said nine strokes. The best of the women were there, but she dusted them by a full lap.
Annika has several things going against her in the publicity game. Number 1, of course is being a woman in an exercise that is still thought of as played mostly by men. Number 2 is her country of origin ' she is not an American, though she has lived here 13 years now. She is a native of Sweden. Number 3, she is not by nature a great athlete ' just a good one who has made herself great by her extreme work ethic. And No. 4, she does not toot her own horn. She always says the correct things, always carries herself as a lady, and finds it very hard to brag on herself.
This is Annika.
Cristi Kerr, Grace Park, Lorena Ochoa, Se Ri Pak - all have made some noises about the future of the LPGA. But they will have to wait awhile. As long as Annika wants it, she will remain the best in the game. Just look at her statistics this year:
She, of course, is leading the tour in wins ' seven ' more than twice the number of the No. 2s, Kerr and Meg Mallon. And she has only played 17 times (Christina Kim leads the LPGA in events played with 29).
She leads the tour easily in scoring at 68.69, more than a shot under second-place Grace Park. Oh ' she is miles ahead in money won ' her jackpot of better than $2.3 million is more than $800,000 better than second-place Park.
She averages 269.4 in driving distance, which last year would have placed her in the lead. This year two are better, but she is tied for third ' again with Park. But that T3 makes her by far the best driver on the tour because she is 21st in driving accuracy. Distance leader Sophie Gustafson is 164th, second-place Wendy Doolan is 78th and Park is 100th.
OK, how about putting? Sorenstam used to be very mundane at putting, but she has made herself into a very good putter. Last year she was No. 1, this year shes tied for fourth.
Maybe shes impressive because she made herself into a great player. Karrie Webb looked for all the world like she was going to be the best in the world for years to come when she was No. 1 in 99 and 2000. But Sorenstam, in a gritty display of determination, made herself the best.
She won eight times in 2001, 11 times in 2002, eight times last year and seven more this year. Thats 34 victories in just four years. That, people, is unheard-of in modern golf. Webb never could have guessed that it meant that much to Annika. No one could have ' but heres evidence that it did.
Or maybe she is impressive because she is always improving. Can she get any better than she is right now? Definitely, if you listen to what she is saying:
I think certain parts of my game have improved every year, she said. My long game is pretty similar, but my short game has improved, especially my chipping and putting. I think I have become a better player, and I think experience helps too.
She just passed her 34th birthday, and she and her husband have so much they want to do in life. This has been her livelihood, her reason for being since she turned down a future in tennis at about the age of 15. She will give this life up and start down a new path before long now. But until that day in the not-too-distant future, she is a one-word description of excellence.
Just say Annika.
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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief
LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse
The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.
Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:
Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million
Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million
Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million
March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million
March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million
March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million
March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million
April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million
April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million
April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million
May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million
May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million
May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million
May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million
June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million
June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million
June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million
June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million
July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million
July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million
Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million
Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million
Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million
Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million
Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million
Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million
Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million
Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million
Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million
Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth
Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)
U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)
The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)
PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)
TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS
AT&T Pebble Beach
FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18