FRUSTRATING FINISH: Annika Sorenstam’s storied career came to a sudden and frustrating halt Friday when she missed the 36-hole cut at the ADT Championship, her final LPGA event before stepping away from competition.
As if Annika wasn’t mad enough about going out with a whimper instead of a bang, she then had to endure the ignominy of giving a urine sample for a drug test. Sorenstam will have plenty of fond memories when she looks back on her career. None of them, however, will include this past week.
MILLION DOLLAR BABY: In Annika’s absence, Ji-Yai Shin won the $1 million first-place prize at Trump International. She beat seven others over an 18-hole sprint to collect her third victory of the year, which also includes the Women’s British Open.
Good for Shin. Not so much for the LPGA. The tour saw Annika, defending champion Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr and South Florida native Morgan Pressel all miss the first cut. This format is much like match play: it adds excitement and a change of pace, but it is also volatile and can lead to people switching their televisions to bull riding on Sunday.
WHERE IS MY APPENDIX?: Paula Creamer, who with a win could have won the season-long money title, survived to the final day of the ADT Championship and ultimately finished in a tie for third. But she almost didn’t make it to the course on Sunday. Creamer went to a local hospital Saturday after play due to pain similar to appendicitis. Doctors cleared her to play – with an inflamed abdominal wall – even though she still experienced discomfort.
Creamer’s rush to the hospital and back was probably the most exciting part of the ADT weekend. You would think eight players, including Creamer and Karrie Webb, battling from scratch for $1 million would be great excitement. For at least this weekend, you’d be wrong.
BIVENS SPEAKS!: LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens took to the podium on the eve of the her tour's season finale to give her 'State of the Tour' address. Topics discussed were the 2009 schedule, the controversial LPGA language initiative, and the economic challenges it faces next season.
Bivens arrived to the press conference on crutches, which was symbolic of the tour right now. Tournaments will be down next year (34 to 31), as will total prize money (about $5.25 million). And things may get worse before they get better. Unfortunately for the LPGA, they don't have a Tiger Woods to carry them through the lean times.
HONEST HAYES: J.P. Hayes became golf's latest symbol of honesty when it was revealed that he disqualified himself from the second stage of Q-School after he discovered that he used an illegal ball during play.
The best thing about all this isn't that Hayes was honest about not cheating; it's that he was honest in his emotions after the fact. Hayes admitted that he was disappointed, but reminded everyone that he had made over $7 million in his career and would be just fine without playing full time on the PGA Tour in 2009. In fact, he can now spend more time with his family. Don't worry about J.P., because he's not.
WHITE HOUSE WELCOME: President Bush welcomed the victorious U.S Ryder Cup team for a tour of the White House and visit to the Oval Office. Seven of the 12-member team made the trip, along with captain Paul Azinger and assistant captain Raymond Floyd.
A PGA Tour player meeting a Republican president must be like a Trekkie meeting William Shattner. It's hard to believe only seven of the 12 players showed up. Perhaps Bush should have offered up an appearance fee.
HONG KONG PHOOEY: Wen-Tang Lin defeated Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari in sudden death for his first European Tour title at the UBS Hong Kong Open. Molinari was knocked off on the first extra hole, while Lin took out McIlroy with a birdie on the second playoff hole.
McIlroy may not have won, but he was mighty impressive on Sunday. The 19-year-old, who made a splash at the Open Championship two years ago, shot 5-under 65 in the final round. With all of the big names set to star on the European Tour this 2009 season, McIlroy might steal a little limelight himself.
DALY DOINGS: Not to be overlooked in Hong Kong was John Daly’s performance. Daly opened with back-to-back 68s and, after a third-round 73, closed with his best round in years: a bogey-free, 8-under 62.
Hard to figure where this came from. Maybe he got a good night’s sleep Saturday. Daly next heads to Australia for this week’s Aussie Masters. With most of the golf world in hibernation right now another strong performance from Daly would wake up some fans.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: La Paz hospital in Spain released Seve Ballesteros from the intensive care unit this past week. ... Nick Faldo stated that he'd like another shot at captaining the European Ryder Cup team. ... 14-year-old Jason Hak became the youngest player in European Tour history to make the cut, doing so in his native Hong Kong. ... Tommy Armour repeated as champion of the Pebble Beach Invitational.
Seve isn't out of the woods just yet. But if anyone knows how to escape from wooden areas, it's Seve. ... Sure, Nick. Just jump in line – right behind Sir Jack Neveragain and Anthony Areyoukiddingme. ... Hak broke the record of Sergio Garcia, who was 15 years, 46 days. ... Armour started the final round with a five-stroke lead, but after shooting 76, needed a 36-foot birdie in sudden death to win again.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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