LPGA Must Pray for Annika to Hang Em Up


The news is getting about as clichd as dog bites man. Annika Sorenstam wins for the sixth time this year (in just 15 starts). Oh ' it was the 54th time in her career that she did it ' 54 times that she broke the heart of the second-place finisher.
The LPGA rank and file must be longing for that day when Sorenstam finally hangs em up. She keeps hinting that that day may be soon, though she just turned 34 on Oct. 10. The sisterhood keeps silently waiting - at least that is what I would do if I were in their spikes.
All the right things keep coming from their mouths ' Were so fortunate to have her; Shes such a credit to the LPGA, etc, etc. You know what they want to say? How about, For Petes sake, when is she going to retire? Someone trot out the cake and lets have the going-away party tomorrow, already!!
You wonder if Annika hasnt broken the spirits of some of these promising debutants. For so long they play such exceptional golf. Then along comes Sorenstam, for one, two, three holes ' whoop whoop, a little lucky break here, a solid shot there, and what do ya know, shes done it again! Thirty-six times in the last five years shes done something very similar, and the women are flat getting tired of it.
Grace Park was the latest unfortunate. She had a wonderful round of 62 the first day of the Samsung World Championship, reserved for the LPGAs best players. She backed that up with a 67 the next day and was still ahead by three shots on the back nine Sunday.
But just as certainly as death, taxes and falsehoods in a presidential campaign, here comes Annika. She plodded along slowly but surely, never quite catching up, but never falling too far behind, either.
Then it happened so quickly ' she chipped in for an eagle on 15, followed with a gorgeous 4-iron for birdie for 17 ' and before anyone could say the LPGAs greatest player, she had won another.
Park, who had played an exceptional tournament, sounded as if she had just about had it. Shes 25 now, but she has seen this act all too often in her young career. You get ahead ' far, far ahead ' but it is seldom enough. Seems like you have to go lights out until the very end ' the final putt on the final hole of the final round. Sixty-eight holes of excellence, she already knows too well, just wont cut it.
I just knew that, you know, when you got the No. 1 player just behind you, you expect her to come back, said a downcast Park. You expect her to hang in there. And she did what she had to do, and I didn't.
Downcast? Disappointed? Disheartened? That doesnt begin to tell the story when youre trying to match up to the strengths of a Sorenstam. Park looked deep inside, and she could only come up with one descriptive phrase, one harsh reality that the whole tour has had to face when compared to Annika.
That I'm the biggest loser, said Park.
Loser? Yes, loser, she said ' capital L. Actually she has enjoyed an excellent year. But Sorenstam, it must be rememered, makes a lot of people feel that way. Annika is extremely polite, courteous to a fault ' but her golf game has a peculiar way of making a lot of womenfolk start grousing under their breaths.
This year has been very frustrating because I've come so close, Park said. Obviously, I'm very frustrated and upset with myself and disappointed. You know, I haven't felt this badly in a long time. I'm playing good golf, but just not getting it done. I don't know how many runner ups this is. It's getting a little frustrating.
For the record, Park finished second five times in 2003 ' one a playoff loss to Sorenstam in a major, the McDonalds LPGA Classic. This year the runnerup finishes have now stretched to six. Some day all those seconds may turn into wins - but that may be after Annika is gone.
Sorenstam has finished second three times herself, four times in 2003 ' but she has 12 wins to offset that. Park has two ' and 11 seconds.
Park doesnt do a very good job of hiding her feelings. Really - no comment. I don't have a comment. I fell apart and didn't get it done, and that's it, she said. She might well have been speaking for the whole womens tour.
Poor Annika ' she tries her best to win, she usually succeeds ' but she knows what she is doing is quite irksome to the ladies who must be content with second place. And she wishes she could be a bit tidier with her wins. But sometimes she just cant help but do it late on the final day.
You know, I didn't wait until the end on purpose, Sorenstam offered Sunday. I mean, I tried to get off to a hot start. It really didn't happen.
Poor Grace must silently be praying for the day ' and in the near future, if at all possible ' when this woman stashes the clubs and gets on with child-bearing or cooking or traveling or whatever. Annika has said numerous times that she doesnt plan on playing forever, you know. The rest of the ladies must wish she would stick to that promise.
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