Sorenstam Repeats Creamer Fades

By Sports NetworkMarch 12, 2006, 5:00 pm
HUIXQUILUCAN, Mexico -- For the second year in a row Annika Sorenstam opened her season with a victory at the MasterCard Classic, shooting a 2-under 70 on Sunday to win by one shot.
 
Sorenstam finished the tournament at 8-under-par 208 for her 67th career title. Her win here last year was the first of 10 on the season, and also the first of three straight.
 
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam won her season debut in Mexico for the second straight year.
'To come here with high expectations to defend a title is always tough, but I thought I played really well and I'm very happy about that,' said Sorenstam. 'This is a great event to start out the season.'
 
Last year's overwhelming money leader, Sorenstam collected $180,000 for this win.
 
'I remember playing well last year, but this year it came down to the last few holes. It was just a loaded leaderboard, so that made it really tough,' said Sorenstam.
 
Helen Alfredsson fired a 5-under 67 to finish tied for second place with Seon Hwa Lee at 7-under-par 209. Lee shot a 70.
 
Still looking for her first LPGA win, Natalie Gulbis held the clubhouse lead for a while after a final-round 66 put her at minus-6. But Gulbis finished tied for fourth place with Paula Creamer (72) and Mi Hyun Kim (72), who had shared the second-round lead with Sorenstam.
 
Gulbis' 66 was tied for the low round of the day with Katie Futcher, who shared seventh place with Suzann Pettersen at 5 under, and Virada Nirapathpongporn, who tied for 15th at minus-1.
 
'I think if I just keep giving myself chances throughout the year, it'll happen for me,' Gulbis said of the prospects of getting her first win.
 
On the other end of the spectrum is Sorenstam.
 
After skipping the first two LPGA events of the season, the dominating Swede hadn't played competitively since the Women's World Cup of Golf in January when she teed it up for her first round Friday.
 
She was less than rusty.
 
Sunday was Sorenstam's third round under par. She survived a bogey on the front nine that dropped her from the top spot, but later regained the lead with consecutive birdies at the 12th and 13th.
 
At 13, she rolled in a 15-foot putt for the birdie.
 
'That was a big putt,' she admitted. 'I really pulled out some clutch shots when I needed to. That is why I love doing this. Coming down the stretch and hitting those shots, there is nothing better.'
 
Another birdie at 15 moved Sorenstam to 9 under. She led by two shots at that point, so a bogey six at the 18th meant nothing.
 
Mexican Lorena Ochoa played in front of a supportive crowd, but struggled to her second 74 and ended tied for 34th place at plus-2.
 
'It's a dream to win here in my country,' Ochoa said as fans chanted her name in the background. 'So, we'll see.'
 
Suzann Pettersen shot a 4-under 68 to tie Futcher for seventh place at minus-5. Cristie Kerr (72) and Tina Barrett (68) were one stroke further back in ninth.
 
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."