Annika Up Against Tough Field

By Lpga Tour MediaNovember 15, 2004, 5:00 pm
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The 2004 LPGA season ends this week with one of the most exclusive events on tour. An elite field will gather at the pristine Trump International Golf Club to compete for $1 million in prize money at the ADT Championship.
 
The best players in the world are competing as the field includes only the top-30 players from the ADT official money list.
 
The name at the top of that list for the fourth consecutive year is Annika Sorenstam, but the 34-year-old is not the defending champion this week. That honor belongs to Meg Mallon, who with three wins this year is looking to put the bow on an already finely wrapped season.
 
During the summer, Mallon went through a stretch of winning three of five events in which she competed. Her streak began at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA, where she played the weekend at 10-under-par to win her second national championship.
 
A week later, Mallon captured the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women's Open, and two weeks after that, she won the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger.
 
A win this week would be Mallon's fourth title of the year, something she has only done once before, 13 years ago in 1991. But of course, a victory at the ADT Championship will be more difficult than just putting a tee in the ground and the ball in the hole, as 29 other players and a difficult golf course will serve as worthy adversaries to Mallon.
 
The first of those 'other' 29 players is Sorenstam, who comes into this week with wins in three of her last five LPGA events played. Sorenstam is a two-time champion of the ADT Championship, and a win this week would be her eighth of the season.
 
Sorenstam is enjoying her second-best season on the LPGA Tour financially, and is aiming to equal her number of wins from 2001. Sorenstam won 11 events in 2002 and amassed more than $2.8 million for her best year on Tour.
 
Grace Park, who is ranked second on the ADT Official Money List, is a multiple winner this year and has been playing some great golf recently. Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March and put the additional bookend on a fine season when she won the CJ Nine Bridges Classic Presented by Sports Today last month in Korea.
 
Park is also locked in a heated battle for the Vare Trophy, which goes to the player with the lowest scoring average with a minimum of 70 rounds played. Park enters the week with a 69.86 scoring average, just .04 less than two-time tournament champion Lorena Ochoa (69.90).
 
In addition to challenging for the Vare Trophy, Ochoa is sure to be a threat for the ADT Championship trophy as well. Ochoa, ranked third on the ADT Official Money List, brings an aggressive style of play that has produced LPGA season records in birdies (417), eagles (20), rounds in the 60s (50) and rounds under par (74) to Trump International. Ochoa is one of the most consistent players on Tour with two wins and an additional 16 top-10 finishes in 2004.
 
There are 18 international players in the field including Shi Hyun Ahn, winner of the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Ahn and Aree Song, also from Korea, are the only two rookies in the field. Other first-timers include Weetabix Women's British Open champion Karen Stupples, Longs Drugs Challenge champion Christina Kim, Wegmans Rochester LPGA Presented by Lincoln Mercury champion Kim Saiki and Stacy Prammanasudh.
 
Prammanasudh, 31st on the ADT Official Money List, and Sherri Steinhauer
(32) are competing this week because Mi Hyun Kim (7) and Se Ri Pak (9) withdrew due to injury.
 
Last year, Mallon entered the final round trailing Sorenstam by three shots.
Sorenstam increased the lead to four on the front nine, but could not withstand a birdie barrage by Mallon coming home. Mallon played the back nine at 5-under-par 31 to surge past Sorenstam and win by one stroke. Sorenstam missed a 10-foot par putt on 18 to force a sudden-death playoff.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.