Sorenstam on Path to Repeat

By Sports NetworkApril 3, 2004, 5:00 pm
TARZANA, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam carded a 2-under 70 on Saturday to claim a two-stroke lead through two rounds of the Office Depot Championship. Sorenstam stands at 6-under-par 138 as she looks to defend her 2003 title.
 
Rosie Jones notched a 2-under 70 to move into a share of second place at 4-under-par 140. She is joined there by Meg Mallon. Michelle Redman is one stroke further back at minus-3.
 
Sorenstam got off to a hot start as she dropped a sand-wedge within four feet to setup birdie at the first. The Swede was unable to get up-and-down on the fourth at El Caballero Country Club for her first bogey of the round.
 
The top player in the women's game dropped in a 6-foot birdie putt at the ninth to get to minus-5. However, Sorenstam three-putted to a bogey at the very next hole.
 
Things turned around quickly from there. Sorenstam knocked an 8-iron within 8 feet for birdie at the 11th and came right back with a birdie at the next. On 12, she nearly holed her third shot but settled for a kick in birdie.
 
Sorenstam lost her drive left off the par-5 17th tee. After a punch out, she dropped her third shot within 1-foot for birdie. That got her to 7 under, but she bogeyed the last after losing her drive right.
 
'You cannot take anything for granted,' said Sorenstam. 'This course really keeps you on your toes. You have got to stay focused, hit one shot at a time. You are looking at some holes as a birdie hole, and you walk away with a par, and that's what makes it hard here.'
 
Sorenstam, who was inducted into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame last year, is looking for her 50th win on the LPGA Tour. That would tie her with Louise Suggs for fifth on the all-time wins list.
 
'I do think about those things,' said Sorenstam of the records. 'However, once I get to the golf course that particular day, I just let things happen. (On Sunday), I hope to straighten out my swing, try to hit the fairway, try to hit the green and make the putts. The outcome will be whatever it's supposed to be.'
 
Jones opened her round two strokes behind Sorenstam. She began her round by draining a 20-footer for birdie at the second. However, she stumbled to a double bogey at the very next hole to drop off the pace.
 
The six-time Solheim Cup performer bounced back to birdie the sixth from 12 feet out. However, Jones tripped to another bogey at the next.
 
Around the turn, Jones climbed back into contention. She sank a 3-footer for birdie at the 12th. She capped her scoring by holing a 9-iron from 126 yards out for eagle at the 15th. She parred out to finish at minus-4.
 
'It is easier to lose shots here than to pick them up,' said Jones. 'You get on the wrong side of the hole or get a bad read or bad bounce and all of a sudden you are looking at something coming back.'
 
Mallon started her round on the back nine with back-to-back birdies from the 10th to quickly climb to minus-5. She stumbled to a bogey at the 14th before cruising to four straight pars.
 
On the front side, Mallon tripped to a bogey at No. 1. She responded in fine fashion with consecutive birdies from the second. Mallon ended the streak with a bogey at the fourth. She ended with five pars in a row to cap a round of 71.
 
Michelle Ellis fired a 4-under 68, one of just four rounds in the 60s, to move into a tie for fifth at 2-under-par 142. Catriona Matthew (70) and Jill McGill (73) join Ellis at minus-2.
 
Jenny Rosales, Mi Hyun Kim, Betsy King and Carin Koch are one stroke further back at 1-under-par 143.
 
The cut line fell at 7-over-par 151 with 72 players advancing to Sunday's action.
 
Related Links:
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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. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”