What to Watch for in 2005

By Lpga Tour MediaFebruary 21, 2005, 5:00 pm
With Japan's dramatic win at the inaugural Women's World Cup of Golf, the2005 LPGA Tour season is off to a smashing start. The season, sure to be one filled with record-breaking putts, Rolex First-Time Winners, tears of joy and the agony of defeat, begins in earnest this week with the SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
 
Before the first full-field event of the season, one record has already been set. This year there will be a record 33 rookies on Tour, all battling for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. The group is headlined by Paula Creamer, who in 2004 grabbed the title at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American Airlines and finished a shot back of Cristie Kerr at the ShopRite LPGA Classic as an amateur.
 
But the youth movement on the Tour is just one of the many stories that will
develop as the season unfolds. If you're looking for drama, the LPGA will
have its share in 2005.
 
The Annika Watch
The name most linked to women's golf the past few years has been Annika
Sorenstam. She's done almost everything that is possible in women's golf.
Almost.
 
What's left for her to accomplish? Last year, she stated publicly that her
goal was to achieve the Grand Slam by winning all four majors in a single
season. Her attempt never really got off the ground after a second-round 76
felled her into an eventual tie for 13th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
She would win the McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola and take second at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA before another tie for 13th at the Weetabix Women's British Open.
 
In 2003, Sorenstam came even closer. She won the McDonald's LPGA
Championship Presented by AIG and the Weetabix Women's British Open, and
finished second by one shot at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and one shot
out of a playoff at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA.
 
Her attempt for the Sorenslam in 2005 begins with the first round of the
Kraft Nabisco Championship on March 24.
 
Sorenstam has seven major championships to her credit and has said she would
like to win at least 10 in her career. With three more majors, she would
become just the fifth player to win 10 major titles and the first since
Mickey Wright in 1961.
 
If those aren't enough accolades, Sorenstam also could make a run at Kathy
Whitworth's record of 88 career victories. Entering the season, Sorenstam
has 56 wins and is just two behind LPGA Founder Louise Suggs for fourth on
the all-time list.
 
The Teen Beat
This year there are five teenagers on the LPGA Tour and all of them are
expected to make some noise this season.
 
The group is led by 18-year-old twins Aree and Naree Song. Aree, who joined
the Tour one year ahead of her sister, burst onto the scene last year and
finished second in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race. Aree
finished second at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and recorded four other
top-10 finishes. This year Naree, who has played in 14 career LPGA events,
joins her sister after tying for 42nd at the 2004 LPGA Final Qualifying
Tournament Presented by American Airlines to gain non-exempt status.
 
Perhaps one of the most heralded players-rookie or not-on Tour this year will be Paula Creamer. The 18-year-old won the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American Airlines by five shots and already has a wealth of LPGA experience in her bag. Creamer has said she wants to make the 2005 U.S. Solheim Cup Team, and if her previous performances can carry into 2005, she has a chance.
 
She made the cut in all seven LPGA events she played in 2004 and flirted
with becoming the first amateur to win an event since 1969 when took second
at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Creamer also tied for 13th at the U.S.
Women's Open conducted by the USGA to share low amateur honors with Michelle Wie.
 
Creamer and Wie received the accolades at the end of the U.S. Women's Open
conducted by the USGA, but it was Brittany Lincicome who stole the show with
a dazzling first-round 5-under-par 66 to not only grab the opening-round
lead, but also match the lowest round by an amateur in tournament history.
She tied for 20th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by
American Airlines for exempt status and is sure to be a fixture at many Tour
events this year.
 
South Korea's 19-year-old sensation Sae-Hee Son joins the Tour after working
her way through the junior golf program in South Korea and finished in a tie
for seventh at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American
Airlines to also gain exempt status. After an opening-round 75, Son played
the final four rounds at 6-under par.
 
The Solheim Cup
The ninth staging of The Solheim Cup, one of the most prestigious events in
professional sports, will take place Sept. 9-11 at the famed Crooked Stick
Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., just outside of Indianapolis. The United States,
captained by LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Nancy Lopez, will attempt to regain the Cup after Europe's decisive 17-1/2 to 10-1/2 win in
Sweden in 2003.
 
The 12-member teams are decided in different ways. The United States
Solheim Cup Team is drawn from the top-10 players in The Solheim Cup points
standings, which are awarded for wins and top-20 finishes over a two-year
period. Lopez will have two captain's picks to round out the team, which
will be announced Aug. 28 after the completion of the Wendy's Championship
for Children.
 
The European Solheim Cup Team, captained by Catrin Nilsmark, qualifies the
top-seven players from the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour points
standings. Nilsmark then has five captain's selections to fill the
remaining slots. The European Solheim Cup Team will be announced after the
Ladies Norwegian Masters, which ends Aug. 21.
 
The United States has never lost a Solheim Cup on home soil; they are a
perfect 4-0 and have won those four Cups by an average of five points. The
Europeans, who lag behind in the overall competition 5-3, will be looking to
end that streak in September.
 
The Challengers
Who's going to step up in 2005 and challenge Annika as the best player on
the LPGA Tour?
 
Sorenstam ran away from the pack last year by winning eight tournaments,
including a major for the fourth straight year. But several players
finished with multiple wins, led by Meg Mallon's three wins. Mallon went on
a tear during the summer, winning the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the
USGA and following it up with a win at the BMO Financial Group Canadian
Women's Open and completed the trio with a win at the Jamie Farr Owens
Corning Classic Presented by Kroger. With the three wins, Mallon placed
fourth on the ADT Official Money List.
 
Joining Mallon as multiple winners in 2004 were Grace Park, Cristie Kerr,
Lorena Ochoa and Karen Stupples. Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship
for her first career major and followed it by winning the CJ Nine Bridges
Classic in South Korea. On the strength of an additional 10 top-10
finishes, including seven runner-ups, she finished second on the ADT
Official Money List with more than $1.5 million.
 
Stupples opened the 2004 season by winning the Welch's/Fry's Championship.
She followed up her first career win with a spectacular homecoming win at
the Weetabix Women's British Open. Stupples didn't just win the Weetabix
Women's British Open, she ran away with it, carding an 8-under-par 64 in the
final round to secure her first major title.
 
Ochoa had a breakthrough season in 2004, winning her first tournament on the
LPGA Tour in Nashville, Tenn., winning the Franklin American Mortgage
Championship benefiting Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. She then followed
that up with a win at the Wachovia LPGA Classic Hosted by Betsy King in
August to top off a banner year. Ochoa set LPGA records for birdies, rounds
under par and round in the 60s, and she finished third on the ADT Official
Money List.
 
Kerr, who was fifth on the season-ending ADT Official Money List, won three
times in 2004 and just missed a fourth title, falling to Sorenstam in a
sudden-death playoff at the season-ending ADT Championship.
 
The 15-year-old
The golf world's most popular 15-year-old looks to build off of a strong
2004 performance in LPGA Tour events, including a fourth-place finish at the
Kraft Nabisco Championship and a tie for 13th at the U.S. Women's Open
conducted by the USGA.
 
Wie has already accepted her six sponsor's exemptions this season, as she
will play in next week's SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Safeway International
Presented by Coca-Cola, Kraft Nabisco Championship, McDonald's LPGA
Championship Presented by Coca-Cola, Evian Masters and the Samsung World
Championship. Wie, by virtue of her finish at the 2004 U.S. Women's Open
conducted by the USGA has already qualified for the 2005 event. She has
also accepted a special invitation to compete in the Weetabix Women's
British Open.
 
The talented teen brings a strong game and mindset to the table and joins
the crop of up and comers who will make an impact on not only women's golf,
but all of professional sports.
 
Related links:
  • 2005 LPGA Tour Schedule
  • Getty Images

    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

    Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.