Perfect Start to Annikas Season

By Mercer BaggsMarch 12, 2006, 5:00 pm
I received my Media Gate Pass, which gets me on the grounds and initial parking at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, thus allowing me to collect my full set of credentials for the upcoming Invitational tournament.
 
Since tournament officials mailed out the pass, I can only assume that they are going ahead as scheduled with this weeks event.
 
I guess they have to dole out $4.6 million to the 70-odd players who make the cut, and then let them bat it around to see who gets what.
 
The actual purse for the Bay Hill Invitational is $5.5 million. But we already know who is taking 900-grand off the top.
 
At least thats the way it seems if you listen to all the little voices in and around the world of golf.
 
Apparently, Tiger Woods will never lose another golf tournament. People are wondering if he can be stopped. People are declaring 2006 a revival of a season six years prior. People are not only ready to hand him the green jacket, but give him sole possession of all four major trophies.
 
People are going a bit overboard. Just a bit.
 
I consider myself a Tiger fan. Not the kind of person who paints orange and black stripes on his face and roots for him over everyone else, but the kind of person who has great admiration for the way he performs on the course and the way he handles himself off of it.
 
Still, I dont think that Tiger is invincible. At least not just yet. There are still a few crooked parts in his game that he needs to straighten out. And when he does ' and I believe whole heartedly that he will ' then Ill drink the Tiger Woods Kool-Aid.
 
Woods has played five times this year and has won on three occasions. I wasnt a math major, but I think that means that he has lost twice this season. And he will lose again.
 
As for Annika Sorenstam, Im not so certain.
 
I realize that there is no way Annika can go 20-for-20 this year. But every time I watch her play, I just cant see any possible way that she can lose.
 
Shes longer and straighter than just about every other woman and girl. Shes definitely tougher mentally than the rest of them. And if she has just an average week on the greens, shes damn-near unbeatable.
 
She just won her 67th career LPGA Tour event this past week in Mexico. And, for the fourth time in her last six victories, she did so by making bogey or worse on her final hole. That just shows that shes so good that she rarely needs late heroics to win.
 
She reminds me of Tiger Woods 2000, in that every time she competes I believe that she will win. Only this feeling is nothing new; it has been lingering for years.
 
When I was at last years Corning Classic, Sorenstam stood on the far left side of the range ' actually in the rough on the adjacent ninth hole because the practice area was so small.
 
But watching her hit alongside her peers was an eye-opening experience. The ball just made a different sound coming off the face of her driver; it traveled in an almost majestic trajectory.
 
It looked like ' and I mean this as a true compliment ' that she was a man hitting next to a bunch of girls.
 
Its almost a shame that shes not a man; then Woods would have a true rival. Or perhaps I should wish Woods to be a woman.
 
Or perhaps I should stop thinking of either scenario, because it's just too weird and I can't afford therapy.
 
But imagine if Woods and Sorenstam ' in slacks or skirts ' competed against one another, year-in and year-out, on a level playing field ' at least in terms of length.
 
It would be among the greatest rivalries in any sport of any era.
 
Of course, that will never happen. Not unless we see one hell of an episode of 'Extreme Makeover.'
 
Instead, we have to settle for Woods beating up on his PGA TOUR brethren on a fairly regular basis, and Sorenstam doing the same to the gals on the LPGA ' but on an even more frequent basis.
 
While Woods returns to action at Bay Hill following a bye week, Sorenstam will try and continue her bullying tactics at the Safeway International, a tournament that she has won three times, including two straight. She will then compete in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a tournament that she has also won three times, including last year. After that, its likely the Atlanta Charity Championship, a tournament shes twice won, including last year.
 
She may very well win all three of those tournaments yet again.
 
But it's not like she's going to go undefeated this season. Right?
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


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    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

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    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm