Annika Wie Just One Back at Nabisco

By Sports NetworkMarch 24, 2005, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Rosie Jones carded a 3-under-par 69 on Thursday to join Karen Stupples and Mi Hyun Kim in the lead after the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Annika Sorenstam, who is seeking her fifth consecutive victory on the LPGA Tour, posted a 2-under-par 70 to share fourth place with Carin Koch, Juli Inkster and amateurs Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel.
Jones, a 13-time winner on the LPGA Tour who has never captured a major championship, played a sandwedge inside 5 feet for a birdie at the par-5 second. She coasted around the turn with a string of pars as the wind picked up before her approach to the par-4 15th landed within 15 feet of the cup.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is eyeing her fifth straight LPGA win.
The 45-year-old drained the birdie putt and knocked her third shot to 2 feet for a tap-in birdie at the par-5 18th.
'Fortunately I didn't make any bogeys today, but it's the type of golf course you know that you're going to make them, so you want to take advantage of every birdie that you can,' said Jones. 'I felt that I had to be really patient having missed a few opportunities. Last thing you want to do is get a little bit frustrated.'
Jones has come close several times in her hunt for a major title, including a couple of top-3 finishes on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club. She has stated that she will retire at the end of this season, and the time is running out for her to taste major glory.
'I'm trying to have fun,' said Jones. 'I'm trying to enjoy every tournament that I go to because I know this is probably going to be the last. Except for here, I may come back, I may come back to play a couple majors or something like that, but I don't really want to take on the magnitude of what you have to do every year.'
Stupples ran off a pair of birdies and a bogey over her first nine holes. She picked up a birdie at the par-5 11th and moved to 3 under with a birdie at the par-4 13th. Stupples found trouble with a bogey at the 14th, however, but rolled in a 14-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 16th to grab her share of the lead.
'I enjoy the majors,' said Stupples, who won last year's Women's British Open. 'I like them for the challenge the courses bring. I know that you have to fight for every single shot out there, so it helps me concentrate a little better.'
Kim bogeyed the first but recovered with a birdie at the par-4 third. She then birdied the par-5 ninth and added a birdie at the par-5 11th.
The Korean tallied another birdie at the par-4 15th for her piece of first.
Sorenstam has won her last four starts on the LPGA Tour dating back to the end of the 2004 season. She knocked off Lorena Ochoa in a playoff last week at the Safeway International and looked to carry her momentum into the season's first major with an eagle at the par-5 second.
The Swede then birdied the fourth but gave a shot back with a bogey at the par-3 eighth. Sorenstam dropped another shot at the par-4 12th after she missed the green with her approach but she responded with back-to-back birdies from the 13th to climb to 3 under.
Sorenstam was unable to find the green at the par-3 17th and chipped her second shot 8 feet from the hole. She was unable to convert en route to another bogey to finish one shot behind the leaders.
'Not a bad start,' said Sorenstam, who won this event in 2001 and 2002. 'You cannot take anything for granted around here. I had some good holes and had some bogeys and couldn't really rebound with too many birdies.'
Wie dazzled the crowds early on with a birdie at the second. She then hit her third shot to 4 feet for a birdie at the par-5 ninth and converted a 5-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 10th to make it two in a row.
The 15-year-old, who has a pair of top-10 finishes at this event, parred her next six holes but missed the green at the par-3 17th. Wie chipped to 6 feet but was unable to save par.
'I just have to again move that one step ahead,' Wie said of challenging on the LPGA Tour. 'I think that I'm getting there. I just have to work on it a little bit harder.'
Jennifer Rosales, Liselotte Neumann, Sophie Gustafson, Lorie Kane, Pat Hurst, Donna Andrews, Dorothy Delasin, Sherri Steinhauer and Michelle Estill share ninth place at 1-under-par 71.
Defending champion Grace Park, who is suffering from a bad back, collected a birdie and two bogeys to finish four shots off the lead in a group at one- over-par 73.
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    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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    Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

    After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

    With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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    “Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

    “I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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    Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    “I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

    “I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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    On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

    Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

    Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

    “We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.”