Annika Ready for Major Test at McDonalds
Now she has her sights set on something major: this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship.
'To come to a tournament with a win, it doesn't get much better than that,' Srenstam said Sunday after winning the Kellogg-Keebler Classic by three strokes, a victory that wasn't nearly as close as it looked.
'Obviously the confidence is high, and I feel like I'm hitting the ball well,' she said. 'So I don't think I could have asked for better preparation for the (LPGA) championship.'
There's no question Srenstam is the best female golfer of her generation and, quite possibly, in history. Playing in just her 10th season, she's already sixth on the career list with 44 LPGA Tour victories. That's halfway to Kathy Whitworth's career record, a mark Whitworth needed 24 seasons to reach.
Srenstam won 11 LPGA Tour events last year and had top-10 finishes in 20 of the 23 she entered. She set or tied 20 records, including shattering the scoring mark with a 68.70 average.
But if there's a knock against her considerable game, it's her record in the majors.
Srenstam has won four major championships; two U.S. Opens and two Kraft Nabisco Championships. That's a fabulous record, if you're anyone else.
'Majors is where the history is, and a lot of people look at somebody's career depending on how they do in the majors,' Srenstam said. 'Obviously I'd like to win more majors. ... I'd like to do better there, and I believe I can.'
In fact, raising her game for the majors was part of the reason she decided to make her historic stop on the PGA Tour.
Because of the men's inherent length and power advantage, Srenstam focused her attention this year on her short game. At Colonial, she paid close attention to what the men did around the green and the shots they took.
'I wanted to see how the guys approach the game,' she said. 'I was there for five days, and I saw a lot and that experience I'm just trying to gather and learn and better myself.'
The hard work, as well as the tips she picked up at the Bank of America Colonial, are showing. When she had a plugged lie in the first round at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic, she knew what kind of shot she needed to make. She didn't execute it as well as she wanted, but the knowledge was there.
Or how about that beautiful flip shot she made out of the rough around the 14th green, putting the ball within 5 feet of the hole.
'Some of the shots I hit around the greens were the result of hard practice and I could really tell,' she said. 'It's coming slowly but surely, and that's all that matters.'
Then, of course, there was the suffocating attention. As the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour, Srenstam probably faced more pressure than any golfer -- any athlete, perhaps -- ever has. Every shot was televised, every move she made analyzed.
In just a matter of days, she became a one-name celebrity like Michael, Tiger and Shaq. But instead of wilting under the burden, Srenstam is thriving. She smiled and waved often to fans at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic, and it wasn't the throw-up-the-hand-with-a-brief-bob-of-the-head that most athletes do. She made eye contact as she looked at the galleries, taking time to scan the faces.
When one little boy yelled, 'Hi, Annika!' as she walked off the first tee Sunday, Srenstam looked directly at him, smiled and waved.
Contending for a major will seem easy after all this.
'To play under extreme pressure with everybody watching, everybody expecting -- well, not everybody. A lot of people didn't expect me to do anything, but some people expected me to do a lot,' she said. 'Everything together is what this is all about. I wanted to test myself, and I did.'
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Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.
Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.
Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.
“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”
Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.
Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.
“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”
The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.
“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.
Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.
On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.
On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.
“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”
A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.
“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.
The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.
The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.
“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”
Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.
Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.
Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech
INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
She refused to let the weather delay get to her.
When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.
''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''
It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.
Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.
But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.
The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.
And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.
She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.
Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.
Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.
''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''
Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.
Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.
Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.
And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.
Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.
Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.
After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.
''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''
Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.
She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''
Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters
GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.
Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''
The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.
Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.
Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.
Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals
After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.
Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.
But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.
Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."
The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.