Wish Come True

By Mercer BaggsJune 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
Golf in America
 
Editor's note: This story originally ran Feb. 2, 2008. It kicks off our 'Golf in America' feature.
The on-air series premieres on Golf Channel, Tuesday June 23 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

 
She took barely a second to ponder the question.
 
August, she answered. It hasn't been this hot since then.
 
Molly Esordi is a native of Grosse Ile, Mich., where temperatures peaked at 25 degrees on Thursday. Fortunately for Molly and her family, they weren't home, but in Orlando, Fla., where the mercury pushed over 80.
 
Gray slush and white ice was replaced by reddened skin from a bright yellow sun. And there was the 14-year-old high school freshman, her family ' dad, Thomas; mom, Leslie; sisters Sarah, 12, and Margaret, 10; and little brother Nicholas, 5 ' having the time of their lives.
 
Annika Sorenstam and Molly Esordi
Molly Esordi gets Annika Sorenstam's set of expert eyes on her swing.
This will be a day we, as a family, will long, long remember, said Leslie. And it will be a day Molly will never forget.
 
Molly and family were in Orlando as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In late 2006, Molly discovered a lump underneath her arm. It was quickly diagnosed as Hodgkins lymphoma and on Dec. 8, 2006 she was admitted to the hospital.
 
A couple of days into her treatment, a social worker came by to tell Molly she was able to make a wish. Molly responded quicker than she did when asked about the heat.
 
I knew right away (what I wanted), she said. There was nothing else I wanted to do.
 
Molly wanted to play golf with Annika Sorenstam.
 
Sorenstam has been associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for a year, which made the likelihood of an encounter all-the-more possible. All Sorenstam had to do was say yes.
 
There wasnt a bit of hesitation, said Mike McGee, Sorenstams fianc. She believes in everything the foundation stands for.
 
Im all about dreams, added Annika.
 
The process went smoothly and quickly. Molly was able to meet her idol Thursday at the Ginn Reunion Resort, which houses the ANNIKA Academy. Annika took Molly and her family on a guided tour of the facilities. They then had a little lunch, hit a few practice balls, and made their way out to the course for a round of golf together.
 
Along the way, Molly was presented with some matching Annika attire as well as a new set of Callaway clubs.
 
This is so cool, Molly said of the experience. Its unreal.
 
Molly is a shy girl, at least in front of tape recorders and cameras ' and there were a handful of media out at Reunion this day. She didnt have too much to say about her condition other than, It was hard.
 
Her parents, however, were a little more descriptive concerning the situation, if not still confused.
 
As a parent, still to this day, Leslie and I dont understand it completely, Thomas said. We just focused on Molly and the positive attitude she had.
 
The toughest part for us, her family, was we couldnt help her as much as we wanted. It was her battle.
 
And she was very positive, said Leslie. She was confident she was going to beat it.
 
Starting Day 1,' Thomas continued. 'she made up her mind that it was not going to change her life or ours.'
 
When asked how the disease had affected her life, Molly replied, It really hasnt.
 
Hodgkins lymphoma, according to the National Cancer Society, is characterized by the spread of the disease from one lymph node group to another. It usually affects young people age 15-35, or adults over the age of 55. It is also more prevalent in males than in females.
 
Being a 14-year-old girl, Molly was not in any of the target groups. But the disease found her anyway. Hodgkins, though, is the most curable form of cancer, usually through chemotherapy.
 
Mollys cancer is now in remission. If it stays that way for five years, she will be considered cured, Leslie said.
 
The most common misnomer about the Make-A-Wish Foundation is that it grants wishes to only terminally-ill patients. That is not the case. It does so for those facing life-threatening medical conditions.
 
We want to be able to give kids hope, a reason to keep fighting, said Mike Pressendo, the Director of Brand Communications for Make-A-Wish. This can be the light at the end of the tunnel.
 
The wish can be whatever their hearts desire. We want this to be the best time of their life.
 
Mollys heart desired to play golf with the greatest female player of all-time. Golf, as it turned out, was instrumental in her recovery process.
 
It helped take her mind off everything that was going on, Leslie said.
 
Molly learned the game at the Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club, where her family has a membership and both of her parents play.
 
She started at the very beginning of the junior program, said Dad.
 
This past fall, Molly competed on her high school team as a freshman. She says her low round is 102, which might seem easy to dismiss, but consider that shes 14, successfully battled cancer, lives in a northern state where the sport is shut down months at a time, and that career best came on a cold, wet and windy final day of the State Championship, and its far more impressive.
 
Apparently, Molly performs her best when the stakes are the highest ' in golf and in life.
 
Annika Sorenstam and Molly Esordi
Annika gives Molly a high-five after whopper of a drive. (Photo courtesy: Susan Pankau, Golfotos)
The stakes werent high Thursday, but the nerves were running rampant as she stepped on the Reunion range to hit balls next to a 69-time LPGA winner.
 
After a few indifferent iron shots, Molly grabbed her new Callaway driver. With Annika pausing to watch, she smoked one as straight and true as if it were struck by Annika herself.
 
That one even caught her mom by surprise. Wow! she exclaimed. Annika walked over and gave her a high-five.
 
Molly may live to be 100, but there wont be anything quite like those 10 seconds for the rest of her life.
 
One day Molly hopes to play on the LPGA, though Dad says, Lets focus on college first.
 
Her more immediate goals are: Id really like it if I could win the Miss Golf title when I get to be a senior. Maybe win the State title, too.
 
You certainly cant count out anyone whos already defeated an opponent like cancer.
 
As Molly and Annika headed out to play a round, a small gaggle of reporters and tag-alongs accompanied them. That lasted for two holes before everyone else peeled off and left the two of them alone, with only Mollys mom following from afar.
 
Come Saturday, the whole family is using a one-day Park Hopper pass to bounce around from one theme park to another. Just as the disease affects not only the individual but the entire family, this trip was for everyone as well.
 
We've all been excited about this for a long time, Leslie said.
 
This experience was one of family fun. It was a reward for all of them who had shared in this battle. But most of all, it was a wish made true for a young lady who had beaten back a life-threatening illness.
 
Were not going to think about that today, Annika said when asked about Mollys cancer. This is a day about golf.
 
Email your thoughts and personal stories to Mercer Baggs

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."