Annika Needing Big Finish

By Associated PressOctober 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Samsung World ChampionshipPALM DESERT, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam used to own a home at Bighorn. In some respects, she owns the course.
Sorenstam is the two-time defending champion at the Samsung World Championship, delivering a strong reminder who rules women's golf. With all the attention on Michelle Wie making her professional debut, Sorenstam opened with a 66 and buried the so-called competition to win by eight shots.
The year before, she turned a three-shot deficit into a three-shot victory over Grace Park by closing with a 67.
And while her debut at this desert course at the base of the Santa Rosa mountains. It wasn't her best golf, but Sorenstam delivered the clutch shot by making a 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole to force extra holes, where Sorenstam and Tiger Woods defeated Karrie Webb and David Duval in the 'Battle at Bighorn.'
'This is a wonderful place, as you can see,' she said Wednesday. 'Wonderful memories.'
Sorenstam is eager to make more when the Samsung Championship begins Thursday, not only to etch her name in the record books but to keep alive her hopes of winning the LPGA Tour player of the year.
'I haven't really been in that situation,' Sorenstam said. 'It's kind of been locked in by this time of the year.'
So much has changed this year.
Wie has completed her first year as a professional with mixed reviews -- a whisker away from winning three majors, a flop against the men on the PGA and European tours -- but still no trophies.
Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak, two of the best in LPGA history, are back in the 20-player field after winning majors.
Perhaps the biggest difference of all is that Sorenstam is feeling some heat.
She set a record last year by winning the points-based Player of the Year for the fifth straight season and eighth time in her career, and it's usually decided when the LPGA season reaches its limited-field events this time of the year.
By her standards, 2006 has been a struggle.
Sorenstam has won only three times, although one of those was the U.S. Women's Open for her 10th career major. Lorena Ochoa of Mexico has four victories, leads the money list and is closing in on the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. Webb has won four times, including a major, and is second to Ochoa in the race for Player of the Year.
And Sorenstam?
'I know I have to play well,' she said.
Along with the Samsung, which has turned into an annuity for the 36-year-old Swede, Sorenstam is defending champion in Mizuno Classic and the season-ending ADT Championship.
'If I play well in these three, I think I have a very, very good chance,' she said. 'I'm motivated about that. I want to finish strong, and that's why my schedule is quite busy.'
Ochoa is in control. While she didn't win a major this year, it felt like one last week in Mexico where she won before her home crowd for the first time and went past $2 million in earnings this year.
'I can only tell you that if Annika is not going to finish in the top, it would be nice that a Mexican takes that position,' Ochoa said. 'I'm trying very hard. I'm doing my best. The tour doesn't finish until November, and then we can see what happens.'
The LPGA season ends this week for Wie, who celebrated her 17th birthday on Wednesday, with an anniversary on Thursday.
It was a year ago at the Samsung that the teenager from Hawaii made her professional debut with high expectations and scrutiny that no other newcomer in golf has faced since Tiger Woods turned pro.
Woods won in his fifth start as a pro on the PGA Tour.
This is Wie's eighth try as a pro on the LPGA Tour, and has reason to believe it's been an astounding year. While she didn't win, Wie got into contention for the first time and came close to winning the first three majors. She had at least a share of the lead at some point over the final six holes in the Kraft Nabisco, LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open until she made a mistake or someone played better.
Wie isn't an LPGA Tour member, so she is limited to eight starts. Otherwise, she would be 14th on the money list in only seven events, and she joins Webb and Sorenstam as the only players this year to average more than $100,000 per start.
'I guess I'm taking it patiently,' Wie said. 'But I feel like being in contention this year, really getting the feel for what it's like to be in contention on the Sunday in a major, I learned a lot from that. That's the way I'm learning how to win, and I feel like it's going to happen.'
She has mixed memories from her debut.
Wie was tied for the lead through two rounds, stumbled in the third round and wound up in fourth place, 10 shots behind Sorenstam. But she was disqualified for taking an improper drop in the third round, a violation that wasn't point out until the fourth round, meaning she had signed for the wrong score and was disqualified.
Strangely enough, the tournament with no cut was her only LPGA event that she failed to cash a check.
Money isn't the object for a player likely to earn close to $20 million on and off the course this year. It's the trophies. And as she starts her second year as a pro, her hopes remain high.
'Every week I go into, I want to win,' Wie said. 'I'm not going to force it to happen, because it will happen.'
  • Leaderboard - Samsung World Championship
  • Full Coverage - Samsung World Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

    Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

    Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

    Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

    He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

    "I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

    Getty Images

    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

    Getty Images

    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.