Sorenstam Flying High in the Desert

By Sports NetworkMarch 25, 2005, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam posted a 3-under 69 to grab a share of the lead after the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Friday. Sorenstam finished 36 holes at 5-under-par 139 along with Rosie Jones.
Mi Hyun Kim, who was part of a three-way tie for first with Jones and Karen Stupples after round one, carded a 71 to finish one shot off the pace at 4-under-par 140. Defending champion Grace Park and Reilley Rankin shot matching rounds of 68 to share fourth place at 3-under-par 141.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam tries a little body english to coax in a birdie putt in Round 2.
Sorenstam has dominated throughout her career and has enjoyed the spotlight with seven career major titles. The Swede was on fire heading into the season's first major on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills with victories in each of her last four starts on the LPGA Tour dating back to the end of 2004.
'I'm just happy the way I'm hitting the ball and happy the way I'm putting,' said Sorenstam, who won this event in 2001 and 2002. 'I'm right where I want to be and excited about that.'
Sorenstam struggled early with a three-putt bogey at the first but she answered at the par-4 seventh after her second shot stopped within 20 feet of the hole. She ran home the birdie try but missed the green off the tee at the par-3 eighth.
Sorenstam calmly chipped in for a birdie from the sand and dropped her third shot inside 13 feet at the par-5 ninth. She drained the birdie putt to make it three in a row and reach 4 under around the turn.
The Swede continued her fine play on the inward half and chipped her third shot to 3 feet for a birdie at the par-5 11th. Sorenstam then birdied the par-4 12th but played her second shot in a bunker at the par-4 15th.
Sorenstam hit out to 10 feet but was unable to save par. She then parred her remaining holes to secure a share of the lead heading into the weekend.
'I'm very happy with how I'm playing,' said Sorenstam. 'You're not always going to get good bounces and not always going to make every putt. It's 72 holes. It's a long ways to go.'
Amateur sensation Michelle Wie had a strong start with back-to-back birdies from the second. She struggled to a bogey at the fourth, however, and dropped back to 1 under with a double bogey at the seventh.
The 15-year-old came back with a birdie at the ninth but found trouble again with a bogey at the 14th. Wie countered with a birdie at the 15th but double bogeyed the 16th for a 74.
Wie was joined by Juli Inkster, Laura Davies, Natalie Gulbis and Laura Diaz at even-par 144.
Jones' career on the LPGA Tour is winding down and the 45-year-old, a 13-time winner, is still in search of her first major championship.
'I've fared well in a lot of majors, especially this one. I've done really well here,' said Jones. 'I'm going to do my best to get my first.'
She picked up an early birdie at the par-5 second but found trouble with a bogey at the fifth. Jones then hit her second shot to 5 feet for a birdie at the par-4 seventh.
Jones landed her third shot within 6 feet for a birdie at the 11th to grab a share of the lead. She fell off the pace with a bogey at the par-4 15th but closed with a birdie at last to join Sorenstam atop the leaderboard.
Kim, who is trying to win for the first time since 2002, parred each of her first 16 holes before she birdied the par-3 17th. Kim then parred the closing hole for a round of 71.
'I didn't make a lot of putts, but I'm still happy with my score and I'm happy with my play,' said Kim.
Park was forced to withdraw from last week's Safeway International with a back problem but she gutted it out on Thursday to finish within four of the leaders. On Friday, Park ran off three birdies and a bogey over her first nine holes to make the turn at 1 under.
The 26-year-old then birdied the 11th and rolled in a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 16th.
'My back felt better today,' said Park. 'I'm just glad that I'm out here playing, not sitting on my couch watching it wishing I was out here.'
Rankin mixed six birdies with two bogeys to join Park two shots behind the leaders.
Cristie Kerr carded a 70 to finish alone in sixth place at 2-under-par 142. Carin Koch, Dorothy Delasin, Liselotte Neumann, Sherri Steinhauer, Wendy Doolan, Brandie Burton and amateur Morgan Pressel were one shot further back at 1-under-par 143.
The 36-hole cut came at 9-over-par 153 and 75 players are safe for the weekend.
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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.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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.