Annika Ups Lead to Five at Nabisco

By Sports NetworkMarch 26, 2005, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam kicked it into high gear on Saturday with a 6-under 66 to open a five-shot lead through three rounds of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Sorenstam, who is trying to win this event for the third time, finished at 11-under-par 205.
 
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is one round away from her fifth straight victory.
Rosie Jones, who shared the 36-hole lead with Sorenstam, managed a 1-under 71 to finish alone in second place at 6-under-par 210. Cristie Kerr and Mi Hyun Kim were two shots further back at 4-under-par 212.
 
Sorenstam played herself out of this event last year, but the top player in the world has been on fire this season and the momentum has carried into Mission Hills Country Club. A win on Sunday would give her five victories in her last five starts. Nancy Lopez is the only player to accomplish this feat to date.
 
'Tomorrow I want to have a day like I did today,' said Sorenstam. 'I'm going to keep reminding myself there's a long way to go and I don't want to take anything for granted. I'm happy the way I played so far the last three days.'
 
Sorenstam birdied the par-5 second and made it two in a row with a birdie at the par-4 third. She added back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 seventh to open a four-shot advantage at 9 under par.
 
At the par-4 12th, Sorenstam knocked her approach inside 13 feet and converted the birdie putt to move to minus-10. She ran a putt from off the green 5 feet past the hole at the 13th, but converted the putt coming back to save par.
 
Sorenstam played her second shot to 7 feet at the par-4 15th and drained the birdie putt to increase her edge to six strokes. Sorenstam hit her second shot through the green at the 16th and chipped her third from the rough to 8 feet. She rolled in the par putt and added pars on the two remaining holes to give herself a serious lead in search of her eighth major title.
 
'I like when my plan comes together,' said Sorenstam. 'Every day is a new day, you go out there and play the best you can. You never know what it's going to give you. I'm going to go out there and play my own game. I really don't want to change much.'
 
While Sorenstam looks to add to her list of major accomplishments, Jones is simply looking to pick up a first. The 45-year-old, a 13-time winner on the LPGA Tour, has never captured a major and time is running out with a planned retirement after this season.
 
Jones tallied a birdie at the second, but gave that shot back with a bogey at the very next hole. She countered with a birdie at the sixth, but found trouble again with a bogey at the par-3 eighth.
 
Jones ran home a 16-foot putt for a birdie at the par-5 11th to reach 6 under. She stumbled to a bogey at the par-4 13th, however, but converted a 15-footer for a birdie at the last to finish within five of Sorenstam.
 
'I was not happy with the way I hit it,' said Jones. 'I wasn't really comfortable all day with my execution and my putting was okay. On the opposite, Annika executed everything.'
 
Kerr had a birdie and a bogey over her first nine holes to make the turn at 2 under. She picked up a birdie at the 11th and kept on rolling with birdies at 13 and 15. Kerr struggled to a bogey at the par-3 17th and parred the last for her second straight round of 70.
 
Kim mixed two birdies with two bogeys for a round of 72 to join Kerr in a tie for third.
 
Laura Davies, Beth Daniel, Laura Diaz, Kim Saiki, Brandie Burton, Reilley Rankin and amateur Morgan Pressel share fifth place at 1-under-par 215.
 
Natalie Gulbis, Juli Inkster, Dorothy Delasin, Hee-Won Han, Lorie Kane, Dorothy Delasin, Wendy Doolan, Young Kim and amateur Julieta Granada followed at even-par 216.
 
Amateur sensation Michelle Wie, who has finished in the top 10 at this event in each of the last two years, collected two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine. The 15-year-old left an eagle try on the edge of the hole at the par-5 11th, but walked away with a birdie.
 
Wie then birdied the 12th and landed her second shot inside 6 feet at the 13th to make it three in a row. Wie's round came apart down the stretch, however, with a bogey at the 15th and another bogey at the 17th. Things got even worse on the closing hole and Wie completed her day with a double bogey.
 
She was joined by Se Ri Pak and defending champion Grace Park at 1-over-par 217.
 
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



    FALLING

    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions.