Sorenstam Seeking Sixth Straight Title

By Lpga Tour MediaMay 2, 2005, 4:00 pm
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- After a five-week hiatus, Annika Sorenstam returns to action at this week's Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill riding a five tournament-winning streak and with an opportunity to do something that no LPGA player has ever done before.
 
Sorenstam's name is everywhere in the LPGA records book, but now she has her sights set on one more this week. The 34-year-old Swede tied Nancy Lopez's
1978 record of five-consecutive wins in tournament starts with an eight-shot victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and a win this week would be her sixth in a row in as many tournament starts giving her sole possession of the record.
 
A $2.2 million purse, first-class hospitality and a top-flight golf course have attracted the best players in the game to the par-71 River Course at the Kingsmill Resort & Spa in Williamsburg, Va., making Sorenstam's attempt that more challenging.
 
Sorenstam has played well, but not great, in the first two years of the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill, finishing sixth in 2003 and tying for eighth last year. But with 59 career wins, Sorenstam has proven time and again that she is the one to beat every time she puts a tee in the ground.
 
Her winning streak dates back to the end of the 2004 season when she won the Mizuno Classic and the season-ending ADT Championship. This year she won the MasterCard Classic honoring Alejo Peralta, the Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola and the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the season.
 
She has earned more than $1 million during the streak, which is even more impressive when you consider that only 10 LPGA players have eclipsed the $1 million mark in a single season since the LPGA was established in 1950.
Sorenstam, who is third on the all-times wins list, has also won seven of the last nine events she has competed in. She finished tied for second and tied for fourth in the other two.
 
Sorenstam also brings an impressive 43 straight rounds at par or better to the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill this week. Her last round over par was June 27, 2004, at the Wegmans Rochester LPGA Presented by Lincoln Mercury, where she shot a one-over-par 73. Sorenstam has recorded par or better in all eight rounds she has played at the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill.
 
Se Ri Pak is the defending champion this week and has fond memories of winning here last year, as the victory gave her the requisite 27 points needed to gain entry into the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame. She must now meet the 10-year membership requirement (2007) before achieving Hall of Fame status. Pak erased a four-shot deficit with a final-round 65 to win by two over Lorena Ochoa and Juli Inkster.
 
Perhaps 2005 will prove to be Ochoa's year in the colonial city. She has finished tied for second in both previous stops the Tour has made in Williamsburg. Standing from the steps to the scoring trailer by the 18th green she watched Grace Park roll in a birdie putt on 18 to win in 2003, and last year, as the final-round leader she was caught and passed by Pak's final-round 65.
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill
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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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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?