Annika Bounces Back in Quest for Record

By Associated PressMay 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The only thing Annika Sorenstam has to apologize for is her timing.
 
Thanks to a nifty 31 on the back nine Saturday, Sorenstam still has a chance to put her name in the LPGA record books once again by winning her sixth tournament in a row. For a while, it didn't even look like she would make the cut.
 
Winning six in a row, though, doesn't seem to mean all that much to Sorenstam. If it had, she wouldn't have taken five weeks off at a time she was blowing away the competition to go home to Florida and relax.
 
You could hardly blame Sorenstam, because there is little left that she has to prove.
 
She's shot a 59, won 59 times, wasn't afraid to mix it up with the men, and is a quarter of the way to her audacious goal of winning all four majors in one year.
 
One day, perhaps not too long from now, Sorenstam will become the winningest golfer ever, surpassing Kathy Whitworth's 88 wins. She's only 34 and, frighteningly enough for her competition, her best golf may not be behind her.
 
It's not like Sorenstam needs much else to add to her Hall of Fame plaque. But women's golf sure could have used her at the last three tournaments she decided to skip while taking a vacation from the tour.
 
While Sorenstam practiced with Tiger Woods and was seen watching a tennis tournament with his wife, Elin, tournament directors must have been kicking the furniture and swearing under their breath at her absence.
 
The LPGA tour struggles for recognition almost every week. But when its superstar decides to take such a long break, it diminishes the stature of her record-breaking attempt.
 
Only a handful of national media bothered to show up for this week's tournament, an indication that a streak that began last November wasn't nearly as interesting as the original five-win streak that Nancy Lopez electrified the golf world with as a 21-year-old rookie in 1978.
 
Lopez did hers in six weeks; Sorenstam has taken nearly six months.
 
If Sorenstam thought so little of the record that she skipped three tournaments since her win in March at the Nabisco Championship, it's hard to make a case for anyone else to get too excited about the streak.
 
Sorenstam had her reasons for taking a break after playing three tournaments to begin the year. She's going through a painful divorce, likes to do things other than play golf and wants to make sure she peaks for the majors.
 
Her real goal is winning the Grand Slam, something no woman has ever done and something far more improbable than winning six tournaments in a row.
 
But Sorenstam is the face of women's golf, propping up an LPGA tour filled with insular players who either have no clue on how to relate to fans or no idea that part of their job is to give people outside their immediate families a reason to care whether they make birdies or bogeys.
 
That showed Saturday when about 1,000 fans gathered around the first tee to cheer for Sorenstam. Those who followed her around the course pretty much ignored playing partners Carin Koch and Wendy Ward, but every time Sorenstam hit a nice shot there were big cheers and occasional shouts of 'Go Annika!'
 
Sorenstam has warmed in recent years to fans, partly shedding her natural Swedish reserve to try and relate to them more. She smiles when she hits a good shot, shows emotion when she doesn't and generally seems to make her best effort to be accessible.
 
During the third round of her win at the Nabisco, Sorenstam was on the back nine and making a runaway of the season's first major when she was forced to back off a shot when a marshal issued a loud - and late - command for the crowd to quiet
 
Sorenstam's caddie admonished the marshal, but Sorenstam wasn't bothered.
 
'That's OK,' she told the marshal. 'I'm happy.'
 
On the golf course, she has plenty to be happy about. Before her opening 76 this week, she had played 43 straight rounds of competitive golf at par or better. And she is arguably more intimidating to the women of the LPGA tour than Woods is these days on the men's tour.
 
There was ample proof of that Saturday when Sorenstam began making birdies on the back nine to leapfrog three quarters of the field and move within shouting distance of Cristie Kerr.
 
'I think they know I'm here,' Sorenstam said. 'I just don't know how badly they know I'm here.'
 
They'll find that out Sunday, now that Sorenstam's competitive juices are flowing again. There's nothing she likes better than winning, and you've got to like her chances to at least make a run at it on a 36-hole day when her fitness could make a difference.
 
Still, this record would be only a footnote in Sorenstam's magical career, something she probably already recognizes.
 
Like Woods, she wants to win majors, and win them in bunches. That means a busy summer ahead as she chases a goal no woman has ever accomplished.
 
To Sorenstam, that's more important than just another entry in the LPGA record book.
 
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    Masters champ Reed: 'I definitely had a chance'

    By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:55 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Patrick Reed’s Grand Slam bid made it all the way to the closing stretch of the final round at the U.S. Open.

    Reed had never cracked the top 10 in a major championship before a runner-up finish at last year’s PGA Championship, and he followed that with a convincing victory at the Masters in April. In the U.S. Open, despite starting the final round three shots behind a quartet of co-leaders, he made a concerted effort to add a second major title.

    With Shinnecock Hills declawed in response to third-round conditions that bordered on unplayable, Reed birdied each of his first three holes and five of his first seven to move to 1 over and within a shot of Brooks Koepka’s lead. He could get no closer, though, as three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on Nos. 9-12 effectively ended his title bid.

    Reed finished alone in fourth place at 4 over, three shots behind Koepka after closing with a 2-under 68.


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    “Of course, Grand Slam would have been nice. But you know, I mean honestly, to me, that was really the last thing on my mind,” Reed said. “It was go out, play some solid golf, try to post a number and see if you can get the job done. I had a chance. I definitely had a chance.”

    It’s the third top-15 finish at the U.S. Open in the last four years for Reed, who tied for 13th at Chambers Bay and finished T-14 last year at Erin Hills.

    Reed was bidding to erase a nine-shot deficit after 36 holes, which would have been the second-largest comeback in tournament history. He was also looking to join Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth on the short list of players to capture the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year.

    “Of course it’s disappointing,” Reed said. “But at the same time … To finish in the top 10 my last three majors, and to have a chance to really win all three of them and to close one off, it means a lot.”

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    Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

    By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

    Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

    He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

    Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

    “Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”


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    This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

    “I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

    The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

    And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

    “The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

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    DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

    Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.






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    Firefighter Parziale ties for low am with dad on bag

    By Associated PressJune 17, 2018, 11:07 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Leaning on his club, Matt Parziale crossed one leg over the other and placed the free hand on his hip. His caddie mirrored his position and used Parziale's bag as his source of support. The two looked almost identical, just one older than the other.

    Being related will do that.

    Parziale's dad, Vic Parziale, has been with his son throughout his entire U.S. Open journey, starting Monday and ending Father's Day. Matt finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.

    ''We do stand alike out there,'' Vic said. ''It's funny.''

    Said Matt: ''I don't like it, but that's how life goes.''

    He's kidding. The idea of turning into his dad doesn't scare him.

    ''He's the best guy I know,'' Matt said. ''If I can be half that good, I'll be doing all right.''


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    It's a classic like father, like son relationship.

    Matt, 31, is a full-time firefighter back home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Vic retired from the same station last year after 32 years.

    The two, obviously, also share a love for golf.

    ''He stinks now,'' Matt said. ''I'd have to play pretty bad to let him win. He used to be much better than he is now.''

    Matt says he was 14 the first time he beat his dad. Vic says his son was 15. Either way, once Matt beat Vic's 73 by a stroke as a teenager, it was game over.

    Vic never beat his son again.

    ''Golf skipped a generation for sure,'' Vic said. ''Because I don't play like him.''

    As the first mid-amateur to make a cut at the U.S. Open in 15 years, Matt's second round was his best, carding a 73 with a birdie on No. 18 that guaranteed him a spot in the final rounds.

    On the last day, Matt shot a 75 to end up at 296, the same mark fellow amateur Luis Gagne scored. Will Grimmer was the only other amateur to make the cut, and he finished 23 over at 303. The tournament started with 20 amateurs.

    This was Matt's first U.S. Open. He played at the Masters earlier this year, but did not advance after two rounds. Vic was his caddie there, too.

    ''Mostly, I just carry the bag and keep my mouth shut,'' Vic said.

    His specialty is wind: Matt does go to his dad for advice there. It helped this week.

    ''I don't get paid,'' Vic said. ''I don't want to be, of course. I just love doing it.''

    The two have worked alongside each other for as long as either can remember. After college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, Matt turned pro but called it quits after a couple years when it didn't pay off financially. That's when he became a firefighter.

    But Matt never fully gave up golf, regaining his amateur status and going on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship back in October. Vic caddied, of course.

    ''It's not something that happened over night,'' Vic said. ''He just wasn't lucky getting here. He really worked hard on his game.''

    Being a firefighter actually allows him to practice and compete often. Matt works two 24-hour shifts a week.

    He's not returning straight to his full-time job immediately, though. His upcoming golf schedule is packed. Starting Wednesday, Matt will compete in the Northeast Amateur tournament. Then he'll have the U.S. Amateur - after he gets married on Aug. 3 - and more.

    Wherever and whatever, Vic will be standing nearby.

    ''He's always given me the opportunity to succeed,'' Matt said. ''None of this is possible without his support and his help.''