Sorenstam broke her own scoring record by averaging 68.70. Actually, make that 68.6969. She had set the record in 2002 with 68.6973. Second place was Grace Park, who still had a very good year at 69.99. Parks average, incidentally, was only the fourth time an LPGA player other than Sorenstam had shot better than 70 over the course of a season. Annika has done it five times.
Alas, though, the LPGA wont recognize the fact that Sorenstam was having the best season from a scoring standpoint. It recognizes Park. The reason? Seems the LPGA requires 70 rounds to qualify for the Vare Trophy, and Annika had just 66.
Yes, she played the necessary number of tournaments. The ADT Championship, which she won for her eighth victory, was her 18th. That was plenty to make her eight wins another full season ' 10 if you count a couple of overseas wins. But 66 doesnt qualify by LPGA standards for the Vare. She finished four short of the required 70.
This, of course, is blatantly unfair to Sorenstam. And it doesnt seem fair to Park. She is listed as the winner of the Vare Trophy in a year in which she won just one-fourth as often as Annika ' two times. Someday when she is retired from an active playing career, Park will still have her name on the trophy for the year 2004. But Grace will know that in 2004 she did not have the best season.
But it is unfair to Park because she had an outstanding season this year, and the mention of the Vare subject will always be paired with whispers of, 'Yes, but Annika ...' The only thing Grace did wrong was she did not have an out-of-this-world season such as Sorenstam. But, outside of Vijay Singh, who did?
Actually, this is the second year it has happened to Annika. The same thing occurred last year, and the LPGA stoically sat on its hands and did nothing about the slap. Last year Se Ri Pak was given Annikas trophy because Sorenstam did not, by the LPGAs standards, play enough. That was particularly painful, she said ' especially when she didnt realize until September that she wouldnt qualify.
Its something Ive got to deal with, Sorenstam said philosophically. I always considered the Vare Trophy one of the highest awards to win throughout the year.
She, of course, knew this was going to happen - this year she did. Last year she played 17 times. Unfortunately, 17 ' or 18 in the case of 2004 ' dont add up when you are only playing three-round tournaments, which most LPGA events are. But ' I know the rules, said Annika. Got to deal with them.
Will the LPGA review the qualifications? Its doubtful, even though everything about the prestigious trophy screams review.
Definitely needs to be looked because we're going into more three-day events, Sorenstam said last November. Also, we're starting in March where we used to start in January, and you know, you are taking two months of tournament golf off like that. So you have to cram in that many tournaments, adding every other year a tournament like Solheim Cup, etc. ' it is just very tough.
I have always been for quality and not quantity. If it is a question of how much you play, then I am not going to compete in that. I like to focus on quality and win tournaments. It's sad because I think it is a very prestigious award.
Ostensibly, the award is for excellence during a season, playing to such a high standard that you score the best in the LPGA. What it comes down to is really something else ' it comes down to playing a lot of tournaments AND scoring. Somehow, that cheapens the award a little.
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