Plenty of Winners Last Week Starting with LPGA Tour
The trick is getting it to last.
Sorenstam goes back to where she belongs this week -- those are her words, not Vijay Singh's -- when she defends her title in the Kellogg-Keebler Classic outside Chicago.
Media requests have doubled. Advance ticket sales are up 50 percent.
The ripple effect from Colonial is not quite the tidal wave that Tiger Woods creates whenever he wins majors, but at least it's visible.
The more significant test is next week in Wilmington, Del., when the LPGA Championship goes head-to-head with the Senior PGA Championship about 30 miles away at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa.
This is the second time in nine months that the PGA of America has shown little regard for women's golf by staging a big event in the same neighborhood. It took the 2002 PGA Championship to Hazeltine, just one month before the Solheim Cup was played down the road at Interlachen.
This time, however, LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw might be holding the trump card in Sorenstam, one of the hottest properties in golf.
Whom to watch?
A group of aging men at least a dozen years past their prime? Or a woman who captured the imagination of millions worldwide with a gutsy performance in the Colonial?
'Her name recognition has never been higher,' Votaw said.
Sorenstam was never in this for the LPGA Tour.
Some feared she could bring irreparable harm to women's golf if she embarrassed herself at Colonial. That camp included Louise Suggs, an LPGA founder who said, 'I hope to hell she plays well. This could mean trouble for her and the LPGA Tour.'
Not to worry.
Even though Sorenstam missed the cut by four shots, she left an indelible mark on golf by the way she handled more pressure than any other player has faced, and held her own on the toughest course she has played against the best competition she has ever seen.
'I think it was an overall positive,' Lee Janzen said. 'It brought a lot of attention to the tournament, a lot of attention to both tours. I think a lot of people have a little more respect for the women's tour than they did, from a player's perspective.'
Considering all Sorenstam accomplished the last two years, that respect was lacking.
She won four straight times early in the 2001 season, which included a 59 in Phoenix, a 10-stroke comeback in Los Angeles and a major championship. Last year, she won 13 times in 25 tournaments worldwide, the most by any golfer -- male or female -- in 39 years.
Still, it took a missed cut on the PGA Tour for anyone to notice.
That Sorenstam was willing to risk failure before such an enormous audience has made her one of the biggest stars ever in women's sports.
What remains to be seen is whether that alone is enough to spike television ratings and attendance at LPGA Tour events.
'Success is going to be an evolutionary formula,' Votaw said. 'By any standard, you could judge what she has done as a success for golf, the LPGA Tour and for herself.'
The only thing that could dent her success would be a repeat performance.
Woods was among those who thought Sorenstam should play at least four or five PGA Tour events to give herself a fighting chance.
Sorenstam said once was enough, and she stood her ground after her emotional exit from the Colonial.
Colonial was such an overwhelming success that Sorenstam has nowhere to go but down. While her rounds of 71-74 were respectable, the fabled course played as easy as ever and she didn't come particularly close to making the cut.
If she played a few more times and made the cut, what would that prove? Kenny Perry won the Colonial with a record 19 under par. Sorenstam made two birdies in two rounds.
The pressure now shifts to Suzy Whaley, who earned the right to play in the Greater Hartford Open in July by winning a tournament for club pros while playing from a shorter set of tees (another double bogey for the PGA of America).
'I hope people are educated enough to know that she's a teacher,' Sorenstam said earlier this year. 'It's different.'
No other woman will make the same impact as Sorenstam at Colonial, until there comes a time -- if there comes a time -- that a woman is capable of winning on the PGA Tour.
She can only hope that more people start paying attention to her when she wins on the LPGA Tour, and also notice the capable women who beat her.
'We'll see what happens,' Sorenstam said as she left Colonial. 'Hopefully with this week ... we'll take women's golf to a different level, and hopefully way higher.'
Sorenstam certainly did her part.
Watch: Reed races in 40-footer to put away Spieth
Three up with three holes to play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Patrick Reed missed an opportunity to close out his match with Jordan Spieth when Spieth won the 16th hole with a birdie.
But Reed wouldn't let the match move to 18. Putting for birdie from the apron, 40 feet from the hole, at the par-3 17th, Reed raced in this putt to end the match.
With the win, Reed moved to 3-0-0 for the week and advanced to the weekend at Austin Country Club.
Garcia's win-win situation: Move on or baby time
AUSTIN, Texas – Given his status as one of Europe’s preeminent Ryder Cup players, Sergio Garcia’s record at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is nothing short of inexplicable.
In 15 starts at the event, the Spaniard has played the weekend just once – in 2010 when he lost in the semifinals to Ian Poulter – and since the event pivoted to round-robin play he’s never made it out of the group stages.
His fortunes have changed dramatically this year, with Garcia going undefeated in pool play and cruising to the Sweet 16 following a 3-and-1 victory over Xander Schauffele on Friday.
“I would love to have done a little better than I have,” said Garcia, who will play Kyle Stanley in the Round of 16 early Saturday. “I have had some good weeks here. But not probably as good as I should have. So hopefully this week it will be better.”
Garcia made no secret of the source of his turnaround following the birth of his first child last Wednesday, a girl named Azalea. Even on Friday when he found himself 2 down through 11 holes and in danger of not advancing he kept an upbeat attitude.
“The way I looked at it, when I was 2 down, we're going to try to turn it around, but if we don't, it means that I get to spend more time with [his wife] Angela and Azalea for the weekend,” Garcia said. “I tried to look at it in a good way.”
DeLaet: WGC's robin-robin format 'sucks'
Graham DeLaet isn't teeing it up at Austin Country Club this week because he didn't qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but that doesn't mean he lacks an opinion on the event's format.
DeLaet hopped on social media Friday during Day 3 of the WGC-Match Play to torch the round-robin format that's been in place for three years, saying he much preferred the single elimination that was in place when he played in 2014.
"Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home, he tweeted. "That’s a good format. This one sucks."
Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home. That’s a good format. This one sucks.— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) March 23, 2018
DeLeat's comments may be the strongest to date, but he's not alone in his opposition to pool play. Several players lamented Friday's "meaningless" matches earlier this week, and Henrik Stenson cited the lack of a do-or-die atmosphere as his reason for skipping the event.
Watch: Kuchar makes ace at WGC-Dell Match Play
In his bid to advance to the weekend at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Matt Kuchar aced the par-3 seventh hole Friday at Austin Country Club.
With an 8-iron from 181 yards, Kuchar landed his ball short of the flag and watched it roll and roll ... and drop.
Golly gee Matty, let's raise the roof.— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 23, 2018
Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuch with a hole-in-one! pic.twitter.com/EnolkLxlqw
The hole-in-one moved Kuchar 3 Up in match against Ross Fisher.
The last hole-in-one at the Match Play came in Sunday's consolation match last year, when Hideto Tanihara aced the same hole before later losing to Bill Haas.