Sorenstam Sizzling at Safeway

By Sports NetworkMarch 22, 2003, 5:00 pm
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Annika Sorenstam shot a 7-under 65 Saturday to take the outright lead after the third round of the Safeway PING. Sorenstam finished 54 holes at 18-under-par 198, two shots clear of Patricia Meunier-Lebouc.
'I'm very happy and I think my scores are going in the right direction,' said Sorenstam. 'I feel more comfortable every day. I'm very, very pleased.'
Sorenstam has shown no signs of rust in her return to the LPGA Tour this week. The Swede was part of a four-way tie for the lead after the second round and jumped out of the gate on Saturday with three birdies over the first four holes at the Championship Course at Moon Valley Country Club.
She found trouble with a bogey at the fifth but recovered with a birdie at the very next hole and reached 15-under with a birdie at the eighth.
Sorenstam bogeyed the 10th but countered again with a birdie at the par-3 11th after her tee shot stopped nine feet from the cup. She birdied the 13th and hit her tee shot to five feet for birdie at the par-3 15th to take sole possession of first.
The 32-year-old padded her advantage with a birdie at the 17th and stands 18 holes away from redemption. Last year at this event, Sorenstam carried the lead into the final round but struggled with a 76 and lost an eventual playoff to Rachel Teske.
'I feel very good about my game,' said Sorenstam, who fired a 59 in the second round here in 2001 en route to a victory. 'I'm going to have positive thoughts tomorrow and try to play the best I can and not going to obviously change too much because I'm happy the way I'm playing.'
Meunier-Lebouc held her own while competing alongside the top player in the world. She opened with four birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 15-under and took the lead with a birdie at the 10th.
The 30-year-old held a two-shot edge over the field after a birdie at the 12th but struggled down the stretch. Meunier-Lebouc bogeyed the 14th and dropped another shot at the 17th. She ended her round on a bright note, however, with a birdie at the last for a 67.
'I knew I had to make this one to be in the last group again,' Meunier-Lebouc said of the birdie at 18. 'I quite enjoy playing with Annika. She's so good to play with, you know.'
Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb, who shared the second-round lead with Sorenstam and Meunier-Lebouc, each carded rounds of 68 to finish at 15-under-par 201 along with Grace Park.
Hee-Won Han fired a 6-under 66 to finish five shots off the lead at 13-under-par 203. Beth Daniel was one stroke further back at 12-under-par 204.
LPGA Tour rookie Lorena Ochoa collected eight birdies on her round for a 64. The 21-year-old was joined by four-time Safeway PING winner Laura Davies, Dorothy Delasin and Catriona Matthew at 11-under-par 205.
Laura Diaz and Sherri Turner share 12th place at 10-under-par 206.
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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.