Sorenstam Dreams of Beating Men at Golf

By Associated PressApril 29, 2003, 4:00 pm
WEST NYACK, N.Y. -- The dreamer in Annika Sorenstam says she can beat the men.
The realist in her says she has no idea if she can even make the cut when she plays the Colonial next month, becoming the first woman in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945.
I'm pulling for the dreamer.
Imagine this slender Swede, all 5-foot-6 of her, driving past some of the men, outthinking others, holding the trophy at the end. Oh, the shattered egos, the jokes, the revolutions in the country clubs and board rooms.
Martha Burk's assault on the grass ceiling at Augusta National would be minuscule compared to what Sorenstam could do by beating the men at their own game from their own tees. It would be bigger than Billie Jean King over Bobby Riggs.
No, it won't happen, but you've got to admire Sorenstam's spunk, her polite rebuff of chauvinists who want to see her crushed for intruding on the men's playground.
'Arnold Palmer told me to think about it,' she said with a laugh Monday when asked if anybody has tried to talk her out of playing. 'I told him I thought about it. He said it's a word from an old man. Obviously, I respect Mr. Palmer. It's funny how everyone has an opinion.'
Nancy Lopez called her and wished her good luck.
'She said that she wishes she had this chance 25 years ago,' Sorenstam said.
Sorenstam, who spoke after an exhibition at the Manhattan Woods Golf Club, knows she's going into hostile territory, wearing pants instead of shorts, changing in a locker room of her own.
'I don't know if I get my own Porta-loos where it says, 'Men only' and 'Annika only,' she said.
Critics have dissected her game and suggested she'll be severely embarrassed. She doesn't hit long enough - though her average of 275 yards on drives this year is better than a lot of men. She doesn't have the power to spin the ball like the men on approach shots - though maybe she won't have to the way she plays. She leaves long putts short, flubs chips, gets jumpy under pressure, wild in the wind. Gosh, how did she ever win 43 tournaments with flaws like that? Of course, they weren't against men.
'I don't think I'd be a professional today if I was afraid of embarrassing myself,' she said. 'If I was afraid of that I never would have left Sweden.'
She played a practice round on the Colonial course in Texas in early March with David Frost. The grass was brown, the rough hadn't grown out and she didn't keep score, but she got a feel for the course's length. She came away thinking she could play par there, and would be pleased with that no matter what the men do.
'If I'm playing well, it should be a piece of cake,' she said.
She's not bulking up or changing her game. Her plan is to take what the course offers.
'On 95 percent of the courses, where strength and power are so important, I don't have a chance,' she said. 'This course is more about placing the shot where you have the best opportunity to approach the green. This is a course-management type of golf course. This is not where you stand with a driver on every tee and just hit it hard.'
She figures she'll take the driver out of her bag only seven or eight times a round, looking to put the ball comfortably in the doglegs and hit approach shots from there. She won't be tempted, like some of the men, to cut corners and play more aggressively.
'I can plod along pretty good,' she said. 'I'll just be playing in the short grass all day long. That's my plan.'
The only problem she sees is that the pressure, the crowds, all the attention will get to her.
'I'm not worried about my golf game, but I'm worried about whether I can keep my mind straight,' she said. 'This is something that I've never experienced. It's a total test.'
And for her, that's all it really is - a personal challenge, not a stand for women or an assault on the men's game.
'But of course if this helps women's sports, I'd be happy,' she said, adding that she plans to call Billie Jean King, who has wanted to talk to her. 'I don't want it to reflect (on women) if I don't do well. It will reflect on me. I'll be upset with myself and I'll be going straight to the practice tee or whatever I need to work on.'
This is a one-and-done deal for Sorenstam, with no other men's tournaments on her agenda. Someday, though, she thinks a woman golfer could truly give the men a run for their money.
'There may be just one, and that could be 20 years from now,' she said. 'One day there might come a lady that's 6-foot-something and hits 300 and wins every (women's) tournament by 10. I could see her wanting to try a tougher challenge. Who knows if that day will come?
'Michelle Wie could be the one maybe. She's already 6-foot and hitting it 290. She is determined to play on the PGA Tour. That's the kind of attitude you need to have.'
Related Links:
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page
  • Full Coverage of the Bank of America Colonial

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    Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 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.

    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    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.

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    Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

    By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

    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.

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    ''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.''

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    Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

    By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

    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.

    Getty Images

    Peterson confirms plans to play Finals

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

    After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming 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.

    Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    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 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.