Annika Goes for Four at McDonalds

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
McDonaldAnnika Sorenstam remains stuck on the number 9, as in the number of major-championship victories she has compiled. But she now is in familiar territory ' at the McDonalds LPGA Championship where she has won three times in a row.
 
Sorenstams play has been a formidable barrier for the players of the LPGA to surmount, the Swede ringing up 67 victories. This year, though, Sorenstam has not been quite as sharp as in previous years. She recently missed her first cut in a non-major since her rookie year in 1994. And, after winning her first outing of the 2006 season, she has gone six tournaments without a victory ' a most unlikely occurrence for a person with her legendary capabilities.
 
The Golf Channel will provide four round coverage og the McDonald's LPGA Championship and the analysts set to cover the event offered their opinions on Sorenstams chances, as well as several of other topics concerning McDonalds.
 
Annika just is not as sharp as she has been over the last four years, said Dottie Pepper. She is driving the ball significantly more crooked this year, and the ball is farther from the hole as a result. She has also been missing more five and six-footers than over the recent past.
 
In other words, shes more like everyone else, but she still has the there she is again factor when her name goes on the leader board. She compartmentalizes and manages her time better than anyone on Tour.
 
And Kay Cockerill says Sorenstam is still a dangerous competitor.
 
Annika, who has defied all the odds against suffering the bad bounces, balls avoiding the hole and general frustrations of competitive golf, is experiencing these things right now, she said. Annika is the only player to have won the LPGA Championship three straight times and she, unbelievably, is trying to win it four times straight. It doesnt seem that her game is in the type of top form necessary to do that, but again, she has pulled off so many amazing feats that you can never count her out.
 
Peter Oosterhuis feels the same.
 
Im sure everyone is surprised by Annikas play this year, he said. She has set such high standards that anything less than domination is a shock. Being a multiple-win defending champion should only remind Annika of her greatness and help her find her best form.
 
The favorites, if not Sorenstam? Cockerill says that Lorena Ochoa impresses her.
 
Lorena Ochoa is one of the hottest golfers right now, man or woman, she says. The fact that she is in serious contention almost every week tells me that she is more and more comfortable with that position. A major championship would be the next logical step in her career, and she certainly has the heart and the game to do it.
 
And one name is not being mentioned among the list of favorites. Laura Davies is nowhere on the radar, Cockerill says. Laura is sorely missed as a regular contender in the majors.
 
One word of note, however, is that Laura finished T-3 at last years LPGA Championship. So maybe theres something about Bulle Rock (in Maryland, the site of McDonalds) that will get her game turned around.

Pepper looks at two of the bright young stars of the tour, young women who impressed with their over-all play last year.
 
Paula Creamer would do well to get back to what she did last yearplay golf and put the marketing stuff on hold. Her focus on the course seems to be suffering a bit because of a lot of outside influences that were not so prevalent last year.
 
Morgan Pressel now is not saddled with high school studies and graduationtime to really kick things into high gear.
 
Sixteen-year-old Michelle Wie is a definite threat. And Pepper believes Wie has an advantage in that she entered the mens U.S. Open qualifying the week of McDonalds.
 
Because of her status as a non-LPGA member, Michelle has the advantage of being able to play and practice the week prior to the event without penalty, Pepper says. Mental fatigue could be something to watch for as the week goes by. She will be under the microscope for a bunch of days in a row.
 
Of course, said Cockerill, Michelle is and seemingly will consistently be a factor each time she tees it up in an LPGA tournament. It will be fun and interesting to see if Michelle will win this year on the LPGA Tour and if her first win comes at a major.
 
I think that experience (of playing in the mens Open qualifier) will help Michelle much more than hurt her. Open qualifying with the men will be a very challenging endeavor and whether or not she makes it, it will help make the pressure of the LPGA Championship easier to handle.
 
Bulle Rock certainly may play a role in the eventual winner. The course favors players that have great course management and distance control with their irons, believes Pepper. Youre got have enough power to hit a reasonable iron into some tough par-4 hole locations: Sorenstam, (Karrie) Webb and Ochoa.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.