SAY IT AIN'T SO...: In a press conference last Tuesday, Annika Sorenstam announced that she would be retiring at the end of the 2008 season. Widely regarded as the greatest women's golfer of all-time, the Hall of Famer's resume includes 72 LPGA Tour victories to date, including 10 majors and the career grand slam.
It was a shocking announcement from the 37-year-old Swede, who stated she is looking forward to focusing more on her business and personal life. Yes, it would have been great to see Annika battle with Lorena for a few more years, but she is leaving on her terms - something very few athletes get to do. On the bright side, she won't be retired until the end of the season, so enjoy her while you still can. We sure will.
...AND BACK TO THE GOLF COURSE: World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa won her sixth title of the year Sunday, firing a 1-under par 71 to capture the LPGA Sybase Classic for the third consecutive year. Bad weather shortened play to just 54 holes, as Ochoa had to grind out the victory, winning by just one stroke over five other players.
In a week that began with all the talk focused on Sorenstam's retirement, the 26-year-old Mexican star stole back the spotlight. Last week in this space, we said the ball was in Lorena's court, and Ochoa responded by topping Sorenstam by five strokes, cementing her spot atop the women's game just when Annika looked to be building momentum. Expect this back-and-forth battle between these two superstars to only get better as summer rolls on.
A WIN IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE: Ryuji Imada grabbed his first PGA TOUR victory in a playoff Sunday at the AT&T Classic, after Kenny Perry found the water on the 73rd hole of play. The 32-year-old Imada has been a runner-up three times on the PGA TOUR, including twice already this season and once at this very event a year ago when he found the water in sudden death.
It had to feel good to grab his first TOUR win in the same state he attended college. The University of Georgia alum was perhaps most excited afterwards, knowing the win would bring an invite to an even more prestigious tournament held in Georgia each spring, saying, 'I know I get invited to the Masters now. I always dreamed of playing there since I was a kid. I cant wait to see what its like.' Two childhood dreams realized in one day - not bad.
PLAYERS HANGOVER: It was a relatively quiet week on the PGA TOUR. Just one week removed from THE PLAYERS Championship, many of the big names in golf took the week off. The highest ranked player in the AT&T Classic field this past week was 15th-ranked Stewart Cink.
Despite the lack of the 'big names,' the weekend was not lacking in interesting storylines. Fan favorites like Camilo Villegas and Kenny Perry were in contention late; there was even a Shark sighting, as Greg Norman made a rare PGA TOUR start (missed the cut, though, after an opening-round 80); heck, even Matt Kuchar made an appearance on the leaderboard with a T-25 finish. That said, we eagerly anticipate the return of some star power. Like say, I guy named Lefty this week.
BEAN THERE, DONE THAT: Andy Bean, winless since the 2006 season on the Champions Tour, hung on for victory at the Regions Charity Classic in Alabama. Loren Roberts finished just one stroke back.
Bean's win, while newsworthy, was just an appetizer for this week's Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. Some of the top names on the senior circuit - Bernhard Langer, Scott Hoch, Tom Watson, Fred Funk - have already won this season and should provide for a great start for the first major of the year on the Champions Tour.
BEAM ME UP!: David Mathis claimed the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greer, S.C., winning by three strokes over Roger Tambellini. It was the 34-year-old Mathis' first Nationwide Tour title.
At one of the more noteworthy events on the Nationwide Tour, Mathis' victory - along with the $121,500 first-place check - all but guarantees his PGA TOUR card for next season. Said the obviously thrilled Mathis, 'It's awesome. Man, I'm just so thankful.' Oh, and he also picked up the keys to a brand new BMW X5.
ANTE UP: Next year's World Series of Golf, to be held in Las Vegas, will have a $200,000 entry fee, with a $1.5 million payout for the winner.
This event evokes images of the closing scene from the classic golf flick Caddyshack. No word yet on whether or not they will hold the tournament at Bushwood Country Club or if Ty Webb, Al Czervik, Danny Noonan or Judge Smails will be entering the field.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: A fellow by the name of Wayne Gretzky won the pro-am portion of the BMW Charity Pro-Am, partnering with professional Chris Nallen to shoot scores of 59-59-60-62; The USGA announced another corporate partnership - the fourth it has signed in the past 18 months, after going 113 years without one.
You would think this would be big news in the Gretzky household, but hardly. The Great One's wife, Janet Jones-Gretzky, has already been the low celebrity in this event - twice!; Pete Bevacqua, the USGA's chief business officer, vowed, however, the following, 'When you walk on site (Torrey Pines), it is pure. It is logo-free, other than the USGA logo and our championship logo.