Wish Come True

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 2, 2008, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: If you have a story of inspiration, or how golf and life have intertwined, e-mail Mercer Baggs at mbaggs@golfchannelclub.com
 
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.
 
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    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.