No 3 Remarkable Just Routine

By Mercer BaggsDecember 29, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #3Editor's note: is counting down the top 10 stories from the 2005 golf season. This is Story No. 3.
Somewhere out there Annika Sorenstam is reflecting on her accomplishments of this past season. Or perhaps shes already done that. Maybe shes already outlining her goals for 2006.
Regardless, she will have a difficult time matching her most recent results, which is just fine with her ' she needs the motivation.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam has won 43 LPGA Tour events over the last five seasons.
You see, achievement is like a drug to Sorenstam. She craves it, she needs it. But shes experienced it so many times now that shes almost built up immunity to it.
She needs more and more, if just to feel the same level of satisfaction shes felt over the last few years. In crude terms, shes an achievement junkie.
For me, its really self-satisfaction, Sorenstam said at this years ADT Championship. Its the contentment I get out it.
Its not enough for her to win the most tournaments each year, or to win a major championship, or the money title, or player of the year honors.
Shes done all of that for five years running now. She needs new experiences, new achievements, new goals ' something to keep her going, something to keep her working as hard as or even harder than she has.
If I just went out there and wasnt specific on my goals, or if I wasnt pushing myself higher, I think it would be tough for me to go out there and practice, she said.
This aint easy. If shes going to keep pushing herself ' her mind and her body, at the age of 35, with all that shes already accomplished, there must be more to be had.
Like winning the single season Grand Slam. Or Kathy Whitworths career wins record.
Sorenstam began this year with the goal of accomplishing the former, and, in the process, working her way closer to the latter.
Her season began promisingly with a victory in her first start, and then another in her second, and yet another in her third. That third triumph was actually her fifth in a row, dating back to last season, which tied her with Nancy Lopez for the most consecutive tournaments won in tour history.
It also came at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Sorenstam won the seasons first major by eight strokes. The Grand Slam was no longer hypothetical; it was possible.
After two more wins in four more starts, Sorenstam entered the McDonalds LPGA Championship as the two-time defending champion. She left as the first player since Patty Berg (1937-39 Titleholders Championship) to win the same major three straight years.
The Grand Slam was no longer possible; it was probable.
Sorenstam was the overwhelming favorite to win the U.S. Womens Open at Cherry Hills. But three closing bogeys in the second round put her out of contention early. She finished at 12 over, in a tie for 23rd place.
There may have been a post-Grand Slam hangover, because she won only once in her next six starts. But, just as she did a year ago, she won three of her final four events, defending her titles in the Samsung World Championship, Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship.
The final numbers: 10 LPGA Tour wins (in 20 starts); two majors; $2,588,240; one money title; one scoring title; one player of the year trophy.
Annika Sorenstam
Sorenstam is only 22 wins behind Kathy Whitworth on the all-time list.
Its not my best year, but its probably top 4 for sure. I dont know; Im so spoiled in years, Sorenstam said.
Yes, I won a lot of tournaments. But I just feels like its been a good year from everything that Ive gone through the last year. Its not just about the victories.
Things have been wonderful, almost too good inside the ropes for Sorenstam over the past few years. Off the course, however, theres been turmoil.
Her marriage was on the rocks most of last season, and she filed for divorce in February.
Last year was a big blur, she said about a season in which she won eight times. I really dont know how I survived a lot of it and how I was able to focus once I was inside the ropes. This year, I had a little more energy.
Golf has been my savior, theres no doubt about it. Its great to have something that you enjoy to fall back on. Ive spent my time thinking about golf. Ive added a few tournaments. Its been very helpful.
As Sorenstam sat and made these statements on the eve of the season finale, it was hard to believe that three years ago, at the same tournament, she was contemplating retirement, talking about her outside interests and the possibility of becoming a mother.
But no longer.
A few years ago, things were looking a little different and I had some different plans and some different goals, she said. Then it took a little bit of a spin and I had to adjust, and here I am a few years later ' a different outlook on life and some different goals at the moment, and right now Im focusing my life on golf. Thats what I have.
Three years ago, Sorenstam was also talking about one day winning 50 tournaments. She now has 66. And now Whitworths all-time record of 88 is within reach.
If you think of the last few years, then its realistic, she said. I dont know if I can keep up the high level of golf. I need to do this for another three, four or five years. I dont know if I could do that. One of the reasons is obviously to push the body so hard. Another reason is, do I want to continue on this pace, that level, week after week?
But continue she will, because, as she stated, golf is her life at the moment.
Next season will likely be much like this one. She will try to win as many events as possible. She will try and win all four major championships. She will try and win everything there is to win.
And she will keep challenging herself and pushing herself and seeing just how great she can be. Because that is who Annika Sorenstam is.
Its not like I have to do this, she said. This is something that I put on myself, and I enjoy the challenge and like to see if I can have a final destination. I like to see if I can do the journey, you know what I mean?
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • Annika Sorenstam's Bio
  • Kraft Nabisco Championship Coverage
  • McDonald's LPGA Championship Coverage
  • U.S. Women's Open Coverage
  • Getty Images

    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?

    Getty Images

    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.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.