Notes Annika Kang Davies Set Slew of Records
Annika Sorenstam has now played her last 11 rounds in the 60s, tying her own LPGA record, which she set in 2002. Sorenstam's current streak includes the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez (67-64-67-67), the LPGA Corning Classic (69-68-69-69) and the ShopRite LPGA Classic (67-65-64).
She won both the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez and the ShopRite LPGA Classic, while finishing tied for second at the LPGA Corning Classic. Her scoring average during the 11 rounds is an impressive 66.91.
Sorenstam lowers scoring average
After shooting 17-under-par 196 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Annika Sorenstam lowered her season scoring average to 68.5. Sorenstam came into this week's tournament with a 68.91 average. Her 68.69696 scoring average last year set an LPGA record.
Sorenstam adds ShopRite LPGA Classic to impressive list
Annika Sorenstam has won 61 tournaments during her LPGA career and has a history of winning the same tournament multiple times. This was the case at last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic, as it was the third time Sorenstam has won that event. She has won 17 tournaments at least twice, but has also won eight tournaments at least three times. This year, in addition to the ShopRite LPGA Classic, she added the Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola and the Kraft Nabisco Championship to the list of tournaments she has won three times.
Sorenstam knows what to do with final-round lead
In her 11-year career, Annika Sorenstam has carried the lead into the final round 61 times. She has won 41 of those tournaments, including the last six. Since the beginning of 2004, Sorenstam has had the final-round lead 10 times, winning nine of those events.
Kang follows up win with top-10 finish, sets LPGA record
Fresh off becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner and earning a spot in The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions, Jimin Kang turned in an encore performance for the record books. She tied for seventh at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, but played her final nine holes of the final round at a staggering 8-under-par 27, setting an LPGA record for lowest nine-hole raw score. Ten players had previously shot 28 with the most recent being Shi Hyun Ahn at the 2004 Welch's/Fry's Championship. Kang's 8-under-par 27 also tied an LPGA record for lowest nine-hole score in relation to par, but hers is the first to happen on a par 35.
Davies, Kang set 18-hole tournament record
Laura Davies and Jimin Kang each shot 9-under-par 62 to set a tournament record at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. The old record of 63 was previously held by Se Ri Pak (1999), Maria Hjorth (2000), Pat Hurst (2001) and Patricia Meunier-Lebouc (2003).
Davies recorded her 62 in the second round and did it by logging an eagle, seven birdies and 10 pars. Kang's 62 came in the final round and she had to work a bit harder than Davies, as she bogeyed two of her first three holes.
From there she caught fire registering an eagle, nine birdies and five pars over her last 15 holes. Kang ended her round going birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie.
Three is lucky number for Matthew
Catriona Matthew tied for third place for the fourth time this season with a 12-under-par 201 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Earlier this year, Matthew tied for third three-straight weeks at the Corona Morelia Championship, Franklin American Mortgage Championship and the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill. It also marks the fourth time in her last six tournaments that she tied for third. Matthew tied for 58th at the Chick-Fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez and did not make the cut at the LPGA Corning Classic.
Sorenstam regains lead in State Farm LPGA Series standings
With her win at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Annika Sorenstam moved from second to first in the State Farm LPGA Series standings with 318 points. Cristie Kerr is second with 306 points, while Catriona Matthew is third with 180 points.
The State Farm LPGA Series bonus pool features a $250,000 purse, with players earning bonus pool points at the 10 State Farm LPGA Series events on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. The next event in the series is the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger, July 7-10.
DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.
The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.
''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''
In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.
''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''
The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.
''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.
Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member
Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.
Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:
Matt Kuchar— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 17, 2018
"It's been a passion of mine to explore & see the world, and I'll now be joining the European Tour as an Affiliate Member, which is very exciting." pic.twitter.com/7wDbuGXz8j
As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.
Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.
Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early
The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...
Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy
McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.
McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.
Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.
“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.
And that was an offseason event.
“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.
As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.
So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.
“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”
Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson
Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.
His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.
It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.
There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.
There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.
While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.
There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.
Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth
Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.
He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.
Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.
CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.
How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):
Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)
Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.
Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.
Notables in the field
* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.
* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.
* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.
* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.
* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.
* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.
* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.
* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.
* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.
* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.
* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.
* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.
* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.
* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.
* This is his first start of 2018.
* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.
(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)