Annika Back to Business in Georgia

By Lpga Tour MediaApril 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
Annika Sorenstam returns to Eagle's Landing Country Club this week, the site of her most lopsided victory of 2005.
 
A year ago, she had a six-shot lead after two rounds and then she saw that margin swell to 10 shots after 54 holes. The final round was merely a formality as the story quickly became whether Sorenstam could break the LPGA's record for largest margin of victory (14 strokes).
 
A final-round 67 made her a winner by 10 shots, four shy of the record, but she gets another chance at history this week at the Florida's Natural Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez.
 
Sorenstam, owner of 67 LPGA wins, is a two-time winner of this event, having earned the crown last year and also in 2001. After a two-week break, her quest for win No. 68 begins this week, and she is clearly the favorite. Sorenstam has not shot above par at the Florida's Natural Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez since 2002, when the tournament was shortened to 36 holes because of inclement weather.
 
This is the fourth of 10 title defenses for Sorenstam this season. To date, she is one-for-three, having successfully defended the MasterCard Classic honoring Alejo Peralta. She came up short in her bid for repeat victories at the Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola and the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She wants nothing more than to increase her title defense average to .500 this week.
 
Still, it would be sophomoric to think that Sorenstam, even with her stellar track record at the event, will not have plenty of competition for the $210,000 first-place paycheck.
 
Seven past champions are in the field and all know how to navigate their way to a win over the tricky Eagle's Landing layout: Jennifer Rosales (2004); Se Ri Pak (2003); Juli Inkster (2002); Sophie Gustafson (2000); Rachel Hetherington (1999); Barb Kolb (1996); and Laura Davies (1995).
 
Inkster won the Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola this year, denying Sorenstam a coveted three-peat, and would like to take another trophy from the Swede's mantle. After going winless in 2004 and 2005, Inkster, 45, reworked her swing in the off-season, and the dividends are paying off. The LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member has shown no signs of slowing down, and in addition to her win this year, she has accumulated three more top-10 finishes in five starts.
 
While worrying about the veteran Inskter, Sorenstam would be wise to keep a keen eye on the youngsters of the LPGA as well. Reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Paula Creamer will be back this year with a chip on her shoulder. Out of 25 tournaments last year, Creamer missed only one cut and it took place at this event, so she comes in with something to prove. Morgan Pressel, winner of the 2006 Nancy Lopez Award, is also in the field this week and is looking to improve on her tie for 23rd she recorded last year as an amateur. Seon-Hwa Lee, who currently leads the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race with 360 points, is also looking for her first LPGA win to go along with her three runner-up finishes already this year.
 
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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.