Sorenstam to Begin Her Climb

By Lpga News ReleaseMarch 15, 2004, 5:00 pm
LPGA logo for LeaderboardsSUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. ' In many ways, golf is a lot like climbing a mountain. Hours of preparation, honed skills and sharp mental focus are needed to reach the summit or winners circle.
One mistake and everything can be lost' there is not much glory reserved for the person who almost makes it to the top of the mountain, or the player who finishes second in a golf tournament.
Its that determination and will that 144 of the worlds best women golfers will bring to the Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola this week. All will showcase extreme talent and grit, but at the end of 72 holes, only one will reach her personal summit and leave the $1.2 million event with a weighty $180,000 first-place check.
The event, now in its 25th year, has been a staple on the LPGA Tour, but for 16 of the past 17 years it was staged at Moon Valley Country Club. This year marks the first occasion the immaculate and equally challenging Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club will host the Tour.
The field at the Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola is always one of the strongest of the year. And again this year, all the big names are in town. Twenty-one-time LPGA champion Se Ri Pak, fresh off a season- opening top-10 finish at the Welchs/Frys Championship, is the defending champion. A win clinches future enshrinement into the prestigious LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame, as she would have earned the required 27 points needed for entry and would just have to wait until 2007 to satisfy the 10-year membership criteria.
It is not going to be easy for Pak though, as making her 2004 LPGA debut is the worlds most dominant player ' Annika Sorenstam. The 48-time winner skipped the first event of the year, but should show no signs of rust as just two weeks ago she stormed to victory at the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia with a pair of weekend 65s.
Sorenstam, who has accomplished almost everything imaginable in golf, has clearly stated that her goal for 2004 is to sweep all four majors'with the first being next week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
One of her playing partners during the final round of the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship is also in the field this week. The much-ballyhooed Michelle Wie will bring her booming 300-yard drives from Hawaii to the mainland to compete in her first of many LPGA events in 2004. The 14-year-old, who stands at 6 feet, has competed in 10 LPGA events'making the cut in six' over the last two years. Her best finish was a tie for ninth at the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Last years LPGA stop in Phoenix was an instant classic, as Pak erased a three-shot, final-round deficit with an 8-under-par 64 on Sunday. It was good enough to outlast Phoenix resident Grace Park by a single shot. Park needed to eagle the 72nd hole to force a playoff, but her approach shot stopped three feet in front of the hole and gave Pak her 19th career victory. Pak ended the event at 23-under-par, which was the second-lowest total in the history of the event.
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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.