Annika Finds Ways to Motivate

By Associated PressJune 8, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 McDonaldWILMINGTON, Del. -- Goals are still hard to find for Annika Sorenstam.
Challengers are not.
The LPGA Championship was supposed to be the second stop on her way to the Grand Slam. Having accomplished just about everything else in women's golf, Sorenstam went searching for motivation and settled on a goal of winning all four majors in the same year. No professional, male or female, had ever done that.
Instead, Sorenstam had her worst tournament of the year in the first major. She tied for 13th in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which only raised more questions about how soon the 33-year-old Swede would call it a career.
But since that crushing loss, a familiar motivation has returned. With so many young faces starting to emerge on the LPGA Tour, Sorenstam still wants to show everyone who's the boss.
'Yes. You got it,' she agreed Tuesday before a practice round at DuPont Country Club.
It appears - for now, anyway - that she has some serious competition.
The winner at the Kraft Nabisco was Grace Park, a 25-year-old who has threatened to become a star the last five years and is just now starting to play to her potential.
Park closed with a 67 in the final round last year at the McDonald's LPGA Championship and lost in a playoff to Sorenstam. Along with winning her first major, Park has three other runner-up finishes and a third this year.
Se Ri Pak, who has been trying to keep up with Sorenstam the last three years, won the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill and earned enough points for the Hall of Fame, despite being only 26.
Lorena Ochoa, the 22-year-old from Mexico, won her first LPGA event this year and has finished out of the top 10 only twice in nine tournaments. And a victory last week by Karrie Webb, the 30th of her career, might be a sign that she is ready to renew her rivalry with Sorenstam.
That's something Sorenstam has been lacking - a rival.
As the LPGA Tour heads into the heart of its schedule - three majors in the next eight weeks, along with the $2.1 million Evian Masters in France - Sorenstam no longer has such a firm grip on the top.
She has a $135,000 lead over Park on the money list, a slim margin considering Sorenstam won't play nearly as many tournaments this year. She leads Park by a mere 2.58 points in the Player of the Year race.
'When you get close on the money list, player of the year, I want to be the best,' Sorenstam said.
She is still driven by the majors.
Despite 51 career victories, Sorenstam has won only six majors - as many as Webb, one fewer than Juli Inkster. She would like to finish with 10 majors, although that would be five short of the record held by Patty Berg.
'If I'm still playing and I continue to feel good, maybe I'll try that,' she said. 'But those records to me, I just find it very hard to compare golf 20, 30, 40 years ago to what it is today because the competition is so different. These are my personal goals. If I turn out to be in one of the record books, I'll be happy.
'But it's not something that keeps me going.'
The LPGA Tour will have its own world ranking at the start of next season, and Sorenstam will almost certainly be No. 1. As Tiger Woods has shown on the PGA Tour, players don't give that up without a fight.
Even though her focus is more squarely on the majors than ever before, Sorenstam was asked if she would settle for two majors but not winning the money title or player of the year.
'Well,' she said with a smile, 'I am very competitive. I do want to win the money list, too. I'm greedy.'
The next two months will determine if Sorenstam remains the most dominant player in golf, or whether Pak, Park, or anyone else can start closing the gap.
Sorenstam has won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average the last three years. The last two seasons, she finished a full stroke better than Pak.
The Swede has surpassed $2 million in earnings the last three years - no one else has broken that benchmark - and finished more than $1 million higher than Pak two years ago.
The question now is how long she can keep it up?
'I always felt I had a challenge to find new goals and keep me motivated and keep me practicing, because I'm getting to the point in my career where I feel very, very satisfied with what I've achieved,' she said. 'Therefore, the majors are what I want.'
The majors are what everyone remembers, so that's an appropriate goal. After failing to win the Nabisco, Sorenstam set her sights on winning three majors this year. She has never won more than two in a single season.
Still, there is nothing that motivates an athlete more than hearing footsteps.
Park not only is neck-and-neck with Sorenstam for player of the year, she is the only woman capable of achieving Sorenstam's goal - winning the Grand Slam.
'I love to see if I can win when I want to win, especially this week,' Sorenstam said. 'That's what keeps me motivated nowadays is a challenge.'
She might finally have one.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - McDonald's LPGA Championship

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    Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

    In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

    “I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

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    Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

    After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

    “I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”

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    Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

    PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

    Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

    ''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

    Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

    A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

    Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

    ''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

    The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Tour.

    ''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

    Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

    ''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

    McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

    ''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

    Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.

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    Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 10:33 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.

    “I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’

    “Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”

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    Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.

    “I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”

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    Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

    “I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

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    By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

    “I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

    Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.