All About Annika

By Mercer BaggsMay 25, 2003, 4:00 pm
Shes a great woman player, blah, blah, blah. But I dont walk around being nine months pregnant.
Thats how Fulton Allem (You would think a man with two daughters would be a bit more enlightened.) represented himself, and unfortunately a certain segment of the male population, when asked about Annika Sorenstams participation in the Bank of America Colonial.
Sorenstam didnt make the cut. She didnt finish better than Allem. She showed her short game is woefully inadequate. And she may never again be seen on the PGA Tour.
She also showed that her accuracy was everything we knew it to be, and her power that much more. She showed that her machinations are not personal. That this isn't the robotic Swede were used to seeing on the LPGA Tour. That she has more light in her eyes than the brilliant Texas sun, and a smile equally as radiant. That her bulked-up frame can shoulder immeasurable amounts of pressure. And that victory sometimes lies in the shades of gray between black and white.
Did she justify her appearance? To some that was an impossible task. Her presence alone was without justification.
But cut through the mesh of cynicism and hyperbolic praise and you discover what this week was really all about. It was never male vs. female. It was never a threat to male exclusivity on the PGA Tour. It wasnt one woman representing her gender.
It was all about one woman. It was all about Annika.
It was Sorenstam testing herself, trying to discover the depths of her talent. Trying to expose herself to the masses. Trying to make herself a better player. Trying to make herself stronger.
If some were offended by her presence, so be it. If others were inspired by it, then that was a wonderful side effect, but not the primary intention.
Make no mistake; this was about Annika, and Annika alone. She didn't do it for you, or me, or millions of little girls. She did it for herself. And that's just fine. Because she's the one that took the chance. She's the one that had to live with the success or the failure.
She deserved this opportunity to be selfish. And in the end, she didnt want it to end. Yet she said shed never do it again.
And why should she? What does she have to prove that she hasnt already proven to herself? What more would there be to accomplish other than to simply make the cut ' even if she was welcomed back by a locker-room-whining lot?
We cant play on their tour, why should they play on ours?
She didnt qualify.
Shes taking up a spot in the field from a legitimate player.
These were just some of the excuses ' at least of those that were made public ' some of the PGA Tour players used in rationalizing why the worlds clear-cut No. 1 female player should have played this past week in Corning, N.Y. instead of Ft. Worth, Texas.
And yet to each of those rationales there was an obvious ifying counter-point. All you had to do was open your mind.
The objective in sport is to compete on the highest possible level. A woman competing against men is a test of limits on the extreme high end ' progression. A man competing exclusively against women ' at least on this professional level ' is regression.
No one woman could destroy the competitive fabric of the PGA Tour, but the opposite could rip apart the LPGA.
A man, even one without PGA Tour credentials, could dominate players inferior in mass and might ' on courses up to 1,000 yards inferior in accustomed length.
Even the greatest female in the game today couldnt so much as make the cut ' on a handpicked course ' despite displaying her obvious brilliance.
As for the fact that she was given a sponsors exemption to play instead of qualifying, thats the purpose of a sponsors exemption: To allow a player otherwise ineligible the chance to compete.
Invitational tournaments, like Colonial, are allotted more sponsors exemptions than regular full-field events, which get eight. A sponsor can invite any certified professional or amateur with a verified handicap of 2 or less. Using that criterion, they can invite anyone at their discretion ' from journeyman pros to past champions to local favorites to gate attractions.
Bank of America gave out a dozen exemptions this week. Of those 11 not named Annika, five missed the cut, and none were within five shots of the lead through 36 holes.
Who receives a sponsors exemption shouldnt be a topic of debate anyway ' at least for those already in the field. David Gossett was the last sponsors invitee to win a tour event, at the 2001 John Deere Classic. Its happened only three times in the last seven years.
And in talking about taking up a spot in the field, look no further than Allem himself to void that lack of logic.
Allem, who hasnt so much as made a top-10 since 1998, is still living off the 10-year exemption he earned via his 1993 NEC World Series of Golf victory.
His exemption will run out in 2004, leaving the now 46-year-old South African dependant upon sponsors exemptions in order to continue displaying his ever-increasing dead weight on the PGA Tour.
There are several players every week 'taking up a spot' with no potential of challenging.
Allem may have made it to the weekend, but at least Annika roasted the pig in one round. He opened in 75, four shots higher than the lady he mocked. Perhaps buoyed by ego and trying to avoid the ignominy of being beaten by a girl over two days, he shot 66 Friday, birdieing his final hole to make the cut on the number.
Players today tend to forget the entertainment aspect of their job. The million-dollar paydays theyre afforded come courtesy of fans and sponsors. The sponsor wanted Annika to play ' in fact, nearly 10 offered her an exemption into their tournament ' and the fans loved watching every one of her 145 swings. She provided an economic boost to the tournament, and an extensive supply of memories to the viewers ' both falling in that wonderful side-effect category.
All in all, Annikas early exit left one major question to be answered: Was her venture a successful one? Most would say yes, Annika among them. And thats the ultimate justification ' at least for one.
Because this week was all about Annika.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.