Annika Sorenstam Press Conference
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I am happy to be here today. It has been a rough few days, but I feel much better now with a little rest behind me and just happy to be out playing a little bit, swing a little bit. This is the tournament that I have been waiting for so now it is here so I am really excited about that.
Q. Why has it been a rough few days? What has it been like for you?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, it has been, first of all, a lot of golf, a lot of tough golf playing in the last group. It is a lot of pressure, a lot of excitement. I was actually quite tired after Tucson; then coming into Phoenix and shooting such a low score on Friday I could not have asked for -- it was just incredible. There was so much pressure and so much -- I mean, I was overwhelmed, just emotionally I have been tired; then to finish up to win on Sunday in Phoenix it was just emotionally draining. I am very happy but it took so much out of me. I just needed to rest a few days.
Q. Do you feel like you will be able to get your energy back since you have been on the go so much?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Oh, yeah. Like I said, I have been looking forward to this tournament for so long that I mean, I am going to have all the energy that I need tomorrow. I will be pumped up.
Q. I think you are 50 under par your last two tournaments. What have you been doing right?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I am making a lot of putts. I am hitting a lot of good shots too which gives me a lot of birdie opportunities. I am just -- it has been so solid overall from tee-to-green, and then I am making the putts. I had one or two 3-putts in 8 rounds which is unusual for me. I am holding those birdie putts between eight and ten feet which I have lot of those and now they are going in and I am making birdies. I haven't made a lot of mistakes. I haven't been in trouble. That is the way I have been able to score.
Q. Do you recall was it that long ago you were worried about your putting, does that it even seem that was you?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I was a little worried a few years ago, but now I am really happy. I am excited. I feel very comfortable with the putter in my hand right now. I look forward going up to the green and making the putt. Before I didn't want to get up to the green because I knew what was going to happen. Now it is like give me the chance, I want to make it.
Q. A couple of years ago when David Duval shot his 59, he later said it took him a couple of months to understand you know, to really have an impact on him as to what had happened and how many people were still coming up to him later. Have you had a lot of reaction from people you have just met and do you think it has really kind of sunk in at this point or is it going to take a little while?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It has definitely not sunk in yet, and I think I must agree with David, it seems like it is going to take a few months. I have always dreamed about shooting 54 and here I was very close, and I didn't really know what to expect and how to feel. When people asked for my signature they want me to put 59 and it is a little unusual but I love it obviously. But it is going to take a while to sink in.
Q. How was this different than the 61 that you set as the previous record?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I mean, it is only two shots, but it is so much more than just two shots. I can't even describe it, the difference. I remember it's a special feeling on Friday last week, I mean, I felt like I was so much in control. I hit every green and I made, you know, 13 birdies. When I shot 61 at Sara Lee in Tennessee, I remember holing a few shots. It was a little more luck. Here it was just simple golf, fairway green, make the putt. It was just kinds of the dream round that I have in my head.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: When I came down the end I needed to birdie every hole.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I shot 7-under on the back, so I kind of recovered more than at Moon Valley I started 8-under on the back so then it was the opposite.
Q. Now that you have had a couple of days to think about it, can you articulate your mindset at all during that -- during that round as far as something that felt different, something that you were able to draw and might be able to draw on again?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: What comes to my mind is just how easy it felt in the sense I wasn't worrying about anything. I would stand on the tee; I would just swing it. I would stand on the fairway, I was just trying to hit the green. I wasn't worrying where the ball was going; same thing on my putting, I wasn't worrying about my second putt. I was just looking at the hole and that is what I was concerned about. Just it -- like I was so free in my mind, there was no excess or whatever you call it around me. It was this is what I was doing. I know in the past I would think so much around the course: What happens if I hit it there; where is the best place to play. This is just a matter of hitting it the way I want to hit it.
Q. Having said that and being able to draw on that, you know, you sort of experienced a lull regarding the majors the last couple of years, and will you be able to -- I know you talked about maybe that you put too much pressure on yourself and maybe you thought your way right out of it, but I don't know, can you -- I am thinking you can't use that as an excuse anymore.....
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: No excuses. The majors mean a lot to me and the last few years I have come into them with a lot of -- with high expectations wanting to them so badly. I felt the same way this year, but I think I have learned a little bit the last few years that I am just going to try and stay calm; not try to win the tournament the first day which is what I have done in the past. I have been putting too much pressure on myself too early instead of just trying to play steady golf and hopefully I am in contention on Sunday. That is what I want to be in. I want to have a chance on Sunday. If I can just keep my nerves and it is almost like you are in the starting block and I start too early. I have to wait for the gun to go.
Q. If you can allow yourself a little reflection, if you might be able to put into perspective what shooting 59 would mean for the LPGA, for women's golf?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I think we will find out, but obviously it's got a lot of attention and I just saw the cover on Golf Week, Golf World, that is a great start. I think it gives publicity to the Tour. I think it gives some credibility to the players out here. We can play -- I hope people -- there are other players out here that I think can do the same. Who knows when it will be, but there is some good golf out here.
Q. Is this a golf course, this particular golf course that you feel like you should have played better on or should have won on or if it is your game, since you are spending more time out here obviously you had a chance to -- have you snuck over and played a few extra rounds here?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I have to admit I have come over here a few times. Not because we have this tournament here but because I really love this golf course. I think it's a fabulous course. Especially the last few holes, some great golf holes. I do think the course fits my game well. It demands accuracy off the tee. It demands good iron shots into the greens also. And I have done good here in the past. What I can recall in 1996 I finished second. I lost to Patty Sheehan by one single shot. That has been haunting me a little bit. I know I can play out here. It is, I think the last two years I have got off to shaky starts, that I always had to play catchup. And this year I am just -- hopefully I will get off to a good start and after that I won't have to catch up so much.
Q. Karrie was in here yesterday talking about the two of you and kind of like a rivalry going. She says when she is out there she wants to beat you as badly as she thinks you want to beat her. Is that the case?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I don't know how much she wants to beat me, but I want to beat her. It has been that way for a while. I really admire Karrie in many ways. First of all, she is a wonderful player and I mean, the way she has played the last two years, I mean, it is just -- you knew that if you beat her you really played good golf. That is what has motivated me. That is -- you knew you'd come out and you knew you had a challenge. It pushed me. I am happy it did because I put a lot of hours in; now it is paying off. I just thank Karrie.
Q. Where is the score card? Are you going to get it back? What are you going to do with it if you do?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I don't know where the score card is but I'd like to get it back. I will frame it and put it in my house.
Q. After Karrie started playing well a couple of years ago, did you feel like you were getting at all complacent? Did you feel like you slacked off a little bit?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think I slacked off a little bit in the end of 1999, maybe end of 1998 a little bit just because things were just -- things were just going my way. I did practice a lot, but I won a lot of tournaments in 1996, 1997 and it felt real easy at the time. Then Karrie came in just in another gear and that is when I kind of woke up and realized that and I think it was good because after 1999 when I finished fourth on the money list, I was not happy. That kind of pushed me and that is what I needed.
Q. Can you talk about your off-season work regimen, how much work did you do in off the season and what did you focus on?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I focused a lot on my putting. I knew that is what I needed to get better, especially after I left Daytona Beach, Tour Championship, I told myself I am going home to putt and putt and putt. That is what I have done. I figured there is nothing wrong with me; I should be able to putt; it's just a matter of putting in the time and then be able to do it when I come to the course. I figured if I have a lot of practice hours behind me, that should help me when I come into a tournament. And I got off to a good start in Hawaii which is what I needed just to see the confidence and then after that it has been great. I am seeing putts. I am seeing lines and now all I want to do is putt. So it has changed a little bit.
Q. Last year there was mention of Karrie versus Tiger, exhibition perhaps, would you like to take him on or another of your 59s like Duval or Dave Gossett for a made for television money, no object, will that fit into your diary and which course would suit you to take them on?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Give me a tight course, something with tight fairways. I don't mind rough. But I love to play the guys. I enjoy every year when we play in this kind of mixed event. I love playing with the guys. I think it is fun to see how they do things and how they play. I am always up for a challenge, so pick a course that is quite narrow. Distance I don't mind but if you hit it straight I think I have a little advantage there. Not the distance but the accuracy.
Q. Last week we talked a little bit about the fitness aspect of your off-season. Was there anything last week coming down the stretch that you had in your physical, mental reserves that you didn't have in previous years?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think that is very tough to measure but I do think by, you know, I worked out a lot. I don't get tired as easily and I think if I wasn't in as good shape I probably would have gotten really tired after that Friday. But thanks to the workout, I think, I want to believe that it helped me to be able to win the tournament.
Q. What is a 59 worth in an intimidation factor, anything?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I hope a lot.
Q. Seriously, does it mean anything, you think, or you just hope so?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You have got to ask the other players.
Full Coverage of the Nabisco Championship
Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders
PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.
She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.
Her confidence is high.
“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”
Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.
Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.
“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”
Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.
“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”
Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.
“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”
That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.
Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead
PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.
While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.
But then . . .
“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”
In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.
She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.
With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.
At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).
Park’s back with a hot putter.
That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.
“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.
“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.
Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.
“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.
Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.
Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.
They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.
Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.
“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.
“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”
Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.
“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”
Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.
“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”
Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers
PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.
It came on St. Patrick’s Day.
“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”
Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).
One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.
“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.
Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year. Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.
Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF
PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”
She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.
That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.
With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.
Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.
Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.
Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?
“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”
Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.
“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”
Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.
“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”
About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.
“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.
Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.
While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.
“You never know,” she said.