Creamer Annika Try to Find Groove

By Mercer BaggsApril 26, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Ginn OpenREUNION, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam has one official LPGA Tour win this season. She also teamed with fellow Swede Liselotte Neumann to capture the Womens World Cup in January. Shes currently fifth on the money list, despite having played fewer tournaments than anyone else in the top 35.
By most standards, Sorenstam has gotten off to a great start in 2006.
Just not by hers.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is still trying to find her groove this season.
I wouldnt say Im very satisfied, she said Wednesday on the eve of the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open.
Ive played, what, four events and Ive won twice, including the (World Cup). I have to put things in perspective.
That can be a difficult thing to do when youve won 44 times on tour since 2001. Last year, one she considers to be perhaps her best ever, she won 10 of 20 starts on the LPGA and once more on the Ladies European Tour.
Well, Ive gotten a little spoiled, she said.
I got off to a good start in Mexico, thought I played pretty solid. The last two events its been a little bit up and down. Im playing some really good golf and then Im mixing it with some not-so-good golf.
To further showcase Sorenstams remarkable record, her first four starts this season have all been title defenses.
Her season began rather nicely with a repeat victory in the MasterCard Classic south of the border. But she then finished outside the top 10 at the Safeway International, a tournament she had won three of the past five years; and in the seasons first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, an event shes also won three times, she finished a disappointing tie for sixth, thus putting a premature end to her Grand Slam hopes.
Last week, she led through 54 holes of the Floridas Natural Charity Championship, but double bogeyed the penultimate hole on her way to a 75 and a tie for second.
I was very disappointed with the way I played on Sunday. I mean, I was in great shape, she said.
I think, you know, this just gives me a little bit more fire and maybe thats what I need for the rest of the season.
Sorenstam added that shes looking for more consistency in her game, beginning at this weeks inaugural event.
Despite her frustrations with her game, her comfort level should be quite high.
Not only will she be commuting from her home in Lake Nona, she is sponsored by Ginn Clubs & Resorts, and is about to put her name on a golf and fitness academy at the tournament host site, Reunion Resort and Club.
The womens world No. 1 will be teeing off Thursday morning alongside No. 3, Paula Creamer ' someone who knows exactly what Sorenstam is feeling at the moment.
Creamer, like Sorenstam, isnt overly pleased with her start to the season, having yet to win in seven events.
It seems like Ive had three good days, and every tournament Ive always had one bad round or something didnt work properly, she said.
I get anxious out there and I want to win, and I miss that feeling of winning and I think that has a little to do with it.
At the moment, the 19-year-old is dealing with the burden of expectation ' not just her own, but the expectations of others in relation to her. Shes no longer a teenage rookie fresh out of high school; shes a 19-year-old, multiple tour winner, who expects and is expected to challenge every week.
The pressure was more from myself last year. Its a little different now, she said. People have their expectations of what they expect me to do, and I think that I have to just forget about that and do what I want to do.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer has three top-10 finishes in seven starts this season.
I expect myself to do well. If I did it last year, no reason why I cant do it again this year. I worked as hard in the off-season as the year before, if not harder. At the same time, I cant force things and I have to just let it happen. I think that, you know, once I get on a roll, I think its going to be for a long stretch.
Creamer didnt compete in Wednesdays pro-am, citing dehydration as the reason for her withdrawal. Its easy to see why she may feel a bit rundown at times. Shes one of the most marketable players on tour, as evidenced by the fact that she shares the cover of this years tour media guide with Sorenstam. There is much demand on her time off the course, with countless interviews and photo shoots.
Creamer accepts and appreciates all of the outside interest. But she tries to make sure that it doesnt interfere with her job.
I think everything revolves around how you play. If you dont play good and dont post a score, then those things are not going to be happening, she said. Lately I havent been playing that great, but I dont think its because of what I do off the course. I know its very important to practice and get my time in with my golf. If that becomes a problem with stuff off the course then well take care of that.
Creamer is beginning a six-week stretch of golf that will take her next week to Japan, where she twice won a year ago, and where she has a calendar coming out next year.
She hopes to get some momentum going this week. She believes her grouping with Sorenstam over the first two days will only help that cause.
I think when I get paired with Annika, I definitely focus a lot harder. I dont know what it is. Its not like I dont focus hard when Im without her, but its Annika, and you want to play well when youre playing with her, Creamer said.
Sorenstam, likewise, has said that she enjoys the challenge of competing head-on against Creamer. But she knows that just by beating the player who may be her chief rival over the coming years doesnt guarantee victory.
You have to remember that there are a lot of good players out here. The depth is there and the talent is there, and you cant forget that, Sorenstam said.
Even though you write more things about certain players doesnt mean they are better players. Its tough out here.
And as for the fact that this is ' remarkably so ' just the second time in the last six years that she has played four tournaments to start a season without netting multiple victories, Sorenstam isnt about to hit the panic button just yet.
'Right now its too early in the season I think, for me, to even think about it,' she said. After 20, 30 tournaments, maybe then we can look at it and evaluate a little bit.'
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''

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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.

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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”

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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.