Annika Gets the Hardware Wie Gets the Hype
All she did at the Samsung World Championship was remind anyone watching why she rules her world. Despite a double bogey on the last hole, she won by eight shots. And her eighth victory of the season -- no one else has won more than twice -- ensured Sorenstam will be the LPGA Tour player of the year for a record eighth time.
But she will have to settle for the hardware, not the hype.
Because even after one of her most dominant victories of the year, Sorenstam was a forgotten figure before the champagne was chilled.
The buzz at Bighorn was -- and still is -- about Michelle Wie.
Sorenstam walked quietly into the desert night with her 64th career victory.
Wie was surrounded by her parents, sponsors, family friends, security and tournament officials who ushered her past a dozen photographers into a golf cart after getting disqualified for taking a bad drop.
Sorenstam can understand getting ignored because of Tiger Woods, simply because people pay more attention to the PGA Tour and Woods has become the most famous athlete in the world.
The star power in women's golf now belongs to a teenager whose legend is built around power, potential and big dreams, with a marketing appeal that required a signature on two endorsement contracts to become the highest-paid woman in golf.
With the crystal trophy at her side, Sorenstam dropped subtle hints Sunday evening that winning the Samsung World Championship was important ``for many reasons,'' not the least of which was upstaging Wie. The 35-year-old Swede is comfortable with who she is and what she has done.
But every superstar has an ego, and Sorenstam is no different.
``I'm very competitive,'' she said. ``I want to play well when everyone is talking about someone else.''
Sorenstam is used to hearing her name mentioned when people talk about golf stardom, especially during her incomparable success over the last five years -- seven majors, 41 victories, nearly $12 million in earnings. And perhaps the most impressive statistic of all is finishing in the top three 63 percent of the time.
It's not always about her, of course.
``Tiger is the only one I can think of,'' Sorenstam said when asked the last time she wasn't part of the conversation. ``Maybe because this is the LPGA, it seems like it's been more about Michelle than Tiger.''
Wie brings notoriety, no matter what she does or where she goes.
People want to watch her.
The crowds at Bighorn typically are sparse because of the searing desert heat and a hilly course designed for golf carts, yet Wie had the largest galleries throughout the week. Even though she already had played 24 times on the LPGA Tour since she was 12, her professional debut was accompanied by the kind of hype Woods got when he turned pro.
She was on the cover of Fortune magazine. More than 225 media credentials were issued, so many that tournament officials had to expand the press tent. The room was packed whenever she was in there, especially late Sunday evening when she pulled off her most impressive feat at Bighorn -- standing firm about her drop while showing respect for the rule that got her disqualified.
Wie had to forfeit her fourth-place finish and first tournament paycheck of $53,126, although the money doesn't mean anything. She already has contract endorsements worth $8 million to $10 million, and it's not like Wie needs the LPGA earnings to get her card. She doesn't plan to join the LPGA Tour for two more years.
What she gained from her loss was even more exposure.
And that pushed Sorenstam further into the background of a sport that, for the moment, is all about Wie.
About the only people who truly appreciate Sorenstam are her peers.
``When Annika comes to play, Annika comes to win,'' Lorie Kane said after she finished her round Sunday, the scoreboard behind her on the 18th showing Sorenstam up by 10 shots early on the back nine. ``It doesn't matter who else is playing. When she tees it up, she means business. That's why she is one step ahead of all of us.''
Sorenstam insisted there was no message sent at Samsung, although 19-year-old Paula Creamer thought otherwise. Creamer already has taken some of the Swede's spotlight because of her moxie, her good looks, her stellar play at the Solheim Cup and the American flag next to her name.
She was a footnote at Bighorn, eight shots behind in second place.
``Annika was just probably sending a statement to the world saying, 'I'm still here. I'm still the best player,''' Creamer said.
Sorenstam says she is motivated when the sun rises, that no one pushes her harder than herself. Even so, she has noticed the strongest youth movement on the LPGA Tour in 25 years, and it has her attention.
``I know the young ones are going to take over eventually, there is no doubt about it,'' Sorenstam said. ``I love the position I'm in, and I'm not going to let it go too easily.''
It might keep her on the LPGA Tour long enough to break Kathy Whitworth's record of 88 career victories. Sorenstam is at No. 64, and at this rate could break the record in three years.
Whether anyone would notice remains to be seen.
Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88
MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.
Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.
Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.
The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.
On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.
Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.
He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.
In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.
Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.
Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M
In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.
This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.
Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.
Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.
The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.
Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout
CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.
Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.
Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.
“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”
Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.
“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”
Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break
Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.
Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.
Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.
“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”
Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.
“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”
Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.