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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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.