Annika on Top by Two

By Sports NetworkMarch 20, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Safeway InternationalSUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Annika Sorenstam posted a 4-under 68 Saturday to take a two-shot lead through three rounds of the Safeway International at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. Sorenstam completed 54 holes at 16-under-par 200.
 
Shi Hyun Ahn, an LPGA Tour rookie, carded a 6-under 66 to climb into second place at 14-under-par 202. Cristie Kerr is one stroke further back at minus-13.
 
Laura Davies and Grace Park posted rounds of 68 to move into a share of fourth place at 11-under-par 205. They were joined there by defending champion Se Ri (70) and Lorena Ochoa (69).
 
Sorenstam opened with a one-stroke lead and quickly extended that as she chipped in for eagle at the second. She cruised around the turn with nine straight pars.
 
'I was happy with the start,' Sorenstam said. 'I made eagle on the second hole to kind of get me going a little bit. Then in the middle of the round I was struggling a little bit with my shots, but I hung in there.'
 
The Swede faltered to a bogey at the 12th after missing the green at the par-3. It was then that she was briefly tied atop the leaderboard by Kerr at 13 under.
 
However, Sorenstam, who won this event in 2001, reclaimed the lead with an up- and-down birdie at the 14th. At No. 17, she drained a 13-foot birdie try and closed her round in style as she rolled in a five-footer for birdie at the last.
 
'I thought I made good par putts when I needed to and obviously to finish birdie-birdie helps,' said Sorenstam, who tied for third here last year. 'I feel better about my game now.'
 
Ahn, who won the CJ Nine Bridges Classic last year to gain status on the tour, was four shots back to start her round. She fell further back when she bogeyed the first but came right back with a birdie at the next.
 
The Korean birdied the sixth, then converted back-to-back birdies from the ninth to get to 11 under. Ahn birdied Nos. 14, 16 and 18 down the stretch to claim second place.
 
'I want to take it step-by-step,' said Ahn through a translator. 'I'm looking for a lucky first year.'
 
Kerr opened one shot behind Sorenstam and picked up a birdie at the third. She dropped a shot at the ninth, but fought back to grab a share of the lead with back-to-back birdies from the 10th.
 
Kerr kept pace with Sorenstam, who had moved ahead of her, with a birdie at the 16th. However, Kerr dropped a shot at the last to finish three back heading to the final round.
 
'I didn't play as well as I would have wanted today, but I made some birdies,' Kerr said. 'I made some putts, and really the only bad thing about my round was my drive on 18.'
 
Heather Bowie posted a 3-under 69 to move to 10-under-par 206.
 
Teenage amateur sensation Michelle Wie continued her solid play as she shot a 2-under 70. She stands alone in ninth place at 7-under-par 209.
 
'I think today was the hardest of the three rounds I've played,' Wie said. 'I went into the rough a lot. I didn't really hit my driver as good today and got some bad lies in the rough.'
 
Wendy Ward posted a 4-under 68 to climb to 6-under-par 210. She is joined there by Rosie Jones, Lorie Kane, Michele Redman and Donna Andrews.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.