Annika Passes on Canada Ames Passes on Controversy

By Ian HutchinsonAugust 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
CN Canadian WomenIt says something about the drastically different directions in which the career of Annika Sorenstam and the fortunes of the CN Canadian Women's Open are headed when one of the LPGA Tour's premier events gets underway and barely anybody notices that Sorenstam is absent.
 
Since coming close to extinction a couple of years ago, the Canadian event has turned it around and headed north, way north to Edmonton's Royal Mayfair, where a galaxy of tour stars including world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel teed off earlier today.
 
That stellar field is another reason to believe that the tournament's fortunes are also headed north due to a $2.25-million purse, a dedicated sponsor that just extended its commitment through 2010, a solid commitment to the communities in which it's played and loose talk that Canada may return to LPGA major status.
 
Meanwhile, Sorenstam's career is definitely going south, at least this year when she is without a win and has just three top-10 finishes in a season shortened by back problems that plagued her earlier in the season.
 
At least for now, times aren't what they used to be for the most dominant female ever to play the game, but her presence would have offered additional credibility and a touch of class to a tournament breaking into the upper tier of the LPGA.
 
Instead, Sorenstam chose to go south on that road too and continued blowing off a tournament that she won in 2001. She maintained that trend by using a loophole in the LPGA's one-in-four rule that ensures each player competes in a each event at least once every four years.
 
The one-in-four is a fan-friendly alternative to the PGA TOUR, which runs on the theory that its players are independent contractors and can't be forced to play. The LPGA Tour, on the other hand, wants its top players to regularly attend all events in support of outstanding sponsors such as CN.
 
However, there is a stipulation that allows each player a one-time waiver that lets her bypass a tournament she hasn't played in four years without penalty. Sorenstam used the Canadian Women's Open to play that card.
 
Injury was given as an excuse, but Sorenstam did take part in an event back home in Sweden last week and finished ninth. Canadians have been generally forgiving of Sorenstam wanting to play at home when the Swedish tournament conflicted with the Canadian event, but there are cynics this year.
 
Some have speculated that a gruelling flight from Sweden to Edmonton might be the reason for Sorenstam's absence in Edmonton. That's only a guess, but perception is everything and Sorenstam seemed to get that with the way she has made herself available to fans and media over the years.
 
She failed to see it this time around, the same way Davis Love III didn't get it when he took major cash for redesigning the Angus Glen North Course for the men's Canadian Open last month, then blew off the tournament.
 
Sorenstam's absence won't hurt the women's Open, with 45 of the top 50 players on the money list there, but her presence would have enhanced the tournament. Instead, she seemed to go out of her way to avoid it.
 
Royal Mayfair's loss is Ottawa Hunt's gain as Sorenstam, who will be in Toronto for a charity event next month, has no way of wiggling out of next year's Canadian tournament. It's too bad that it now seems like she will be dragged there kicking and screaming.
 
WHO IS THAT MAN?
If history is any indication, it would be right about now that Stephen Ames exploded with controversial statements about not being picked to the International team for next month's Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal.
 
He'd have a surprising number of people agree with him too, as not all Canadians agree with Gary Player's decision to go with 2003 Masters champ Mike Weir as the lone Canadian. Ames has his supporters, whose main argument is that Ames was playing better than Weir leading up to the captain's picks.
 
Ames had the perfect opportunity to pop off on Tuesday, with media in attendance at the kickoff to the Stephen Ames Cup, a junior event featuring players from his native Trinidad and Tobago and his adopted home in Canada. He didn't take the bait.
Ames, to his credit, took the high road. While he thought he was a legitimate pick, he wished Weir, Player and the rest of the International team well in Montreal and said he planned to make it to the next Presidents Cup.
 
Huh? Who is that imposter? Bland is usually not an adjective used to describe Stephen Ames, but he was truly being a gentleman and his mood was upbeat in the conference and out on the golf course.
 
It would make no sense to rip into a decision that was good for Weir, the golden golfer of Canada since his Masters win, and that wouldn't have been Ames' intention anyway, despite his disappointment at not being picked. It could be taken that way, though.
Weir, despite his struggles, could very well be a great choice by Player with his experience of three Presidents Cups and an overall 8-6 record in that event, so any argument on Ames' behalf should not be taken as Weir-bashing, but that's how some people set it up.
 
He knows only too well how a seemingly innocent remark can leave the words '9-and-8' ringing in his ears, so why tempt fate? Diplomacy isn't an entirely foreign talent for him, after all.
 

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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x