Annika Puts Up Another Amazing Season
She already is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, inducted a year ago at the ripe old age of 33. She completed the career Grand Slam last year by winning the Women's British Open. She won for the 50th time on the LPGA in April. She would like to win three more majors to give her 10, but only because that sounds like a nice number.
'Because I have come so far in my career, (there's) nothing that is still out there,' Sorenstam said.
Maybe she's not looking far enough.
Two years ago, when she won 11 times on the LPGA Tour, Sorenstam said she wasn't interested in chasing Kathy Whitworth's career record of 88 victories. At the time, she wasn't even halfway there.
But when Sorenstam ended another amazing season Sunday ' eight wins despite playing only 18 times on the LPGA Tour ' she had 56 career victories and was No. 5 on the list.
'I never thought 88 was possible, and I'm still so far away from it,' she said. 'I just wonder if I can continue on this pace. If I don't continue on this pace, there's no way. If it does happen, obviously that would be just be incredible.'
The Swede repeated that 88 wins is not among her goals ' yet.
'Maybe if I reach 75,' she said. 'But then you've still got another 13, and that could take five years. I don't know. It really sounds so impossible. I guess you should never say 'never.''
The record still seems out of reach, but much more reasonable considering her dominance of women's golf.
When she captured the ADT Championship in a playoff at Trump International, it gave Sorenstam 33 victories over the last four years ' more than Hall of Famers Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster have won in their careers.
'I don't think people realize how hard it is to do what Annika has done,' Cristie Kerr said.
Two more years like that, and Sorenstam might find herself closer to Whitworth than she ever dreamed.
Much of that depends on her desire and motivation, neither of which appears to be waning. Another factor could be her competition. Se Ri Pak and Grace Park have made some headway, and Meg Mallon might have found a second wind by capturing the Women's Open. Still, there doesn't seem to be a Vijay Singh on the horizon.
'I hope he's not coming,' Sorenstam said, joking.
Tiger Woods won 32 times over five years, including four majors in a row, and looked unstoppable. Singh predicted that great run would end early in the 2003 season, then spent the next two years tracking him down until he supplanted Woods at No. 1 in the world.
No one works harder than Sorenstam. No one produces better under pressure.
She was third in driving distance, and led the LPGA Tour by hitting 79 percent of her greens in regulation. Her average score was 68.70, which was a massive 1.29 strokes ahead of Grace Park. The only reason Sorenstam didn't win the Vare Trophy was because she didn't play the minimum 70 rounds.
How long can this last?
'I try not to think about when will my streak end,' Sorenstam said. 'I try to look forward, not backward. There are still parts of my game that can improve. If I can still work and get better, I don't see a reason why it should end. If I get an injury or if my motivation disappears or if I'm not getting better ... then yes, it probably will.'
The greatness of Sorenstam is that even the spectacular years look routine. She had a hard time finding a signature moment in 2004, a year in which she had five more wins and $1 million more in prize money than anyone else.
'It's going to rank up there. Maybe not the best year,' she said. 'This year is great because I didn't play as much, but I was still able to be up there.'
None of her peers was surprised. Kerr had a breakout year with three victories. Mallon captured the biggest prize in women's golf among her three wins. Both their years were not even close to Sorenstam's success.
'Everyone's talking about Vijay's year,' Mallon said, referring to Singh's nine victories on the PGA Tour. 'She's done it for the last six years. My years on tour, I've seen great players, and Annika is one of them. Those great players always go through a down time. She hasn't done that.
'I just think Annika is enjoying herself more now the last couple of years,' Mallon said. 'I see her playing maybe a little longer than what she thinks she might.'
Sorenstam's only mission in 2004 was to become the first player, male or female, to win all four professional majors in the same season. That fell apart when she shot 76 in the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship and wound up in a tie for 13th, matching her worst finish of the year.
With nothing else on the agenda, she still cranked out eight victories.
What's next, Annika?
Another crack at the Grand Slam, for sure.
Sorenstam will play in the Skins Game against Woods, Fred Couples and Adam Scott this weekend in California.
Then, she will put the clubs up for about a month until she gets the itch to play and starts thinking about what she wants to accomplish.
'Who knows? After Christmas, we'll see what crazy ideas I get,' she said.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.