Sorenstam Surprises at Skins
So much for the theory that inviting the world's best female golfer to this otherwise all-male, made-for-TV event was merely a gimmick to bring attention since Woods opted out this year.
'I've played with a lot of fine players,' said Mark O'Meara, Woods' close friend, 'and I'd have to put Annika at the top of the list.'
With her parents and husband among those watching, Sorenstam won five skins and $225,000, finishing second to Mr. Skins himself, Fred Couples, who earned $605,000 in winning the game for a record fourth time.
'I think she played terrific golf. I certainly didn't play better than Annika,' Couples said. 'I just made a few more putts and a couple of lucky shots.'
Phil Mickelson was third after Sunday's final nine holes of the 18-hole competition with $170,000. O'Meara, the defending champion, wound up with nothing after winning $405,000 in the event a year ago.
Despite her success, Sorenstam thought an invitation to return next year was unlikely.
'I would definitely accept it, but I don't expect one,' she said. 'I was just flattered to get an invitation to be here this year. There's a lot of people who deserve to be here, but obviously I'm very thankful to have a chance to experience this, because it's been wonderful.'
Sorenstam impressed her competitors with her unfailingly accurate drives off the tee.
'I was surprised at how far she hit the golf ball,' Mickelson said. 'I think if she were to attempt to play the men's tour full-time - not that she would, but if she were going to - I don't think distance would be a hindrance for her. She hits the ball plenty long.'
The 18-hole competition brought an end to Sorenstam's long season.
She led the LPGA Tour with six wins, won her sixth money title and was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame. In May, she became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event in 58 years, playing two solid rounds at The Colonial but missing the cut.
Her season ended with a skins competition in Singapore, the LPGA finale at the ADT Championship in Florida, and a cross-country flight to California for the Skins Game.
Now it's time for 'a long break,' she said, before she begins practicing for what she expects to be another triumphant year.
'It's majors I want to win. I've been fortunate to win six of them, but I believe inside that I can win more than that,' Sorenstam said. 'Next year I'm going to go out and try to win four in one year. Therefore, I need all the experience and all the education I can get.'
Sorenstam provided one of the most memorable moments in the Skins Game's 21-year history.
The 39-yard bunker shot for an eagle to win $175,000 on the ninth and final hole Saturday brought the sagging event to life. She started Sunday's play with another skin, a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole.
'I was happy to make another skin other than that fluke shot, the bunker shot I hit,' Sorenstam said.
Couples won $580,000 on Sunday, the second-largest earnings on the final nine holes in the event's 21-year history. Only Greg Norman's $1 million sweep in 2001 was larger. Couples' $605,000 is the third-largest total.
In his 10 Skins Game appearances, Couples has won a record $2.875 million. He birdied the par-3 17th hole three times on Sunday, the first one with a 55-foot putt. The other two came as part of the four playoff holes that finally resulted in Couples winning the $200,000 'Super Skin.'
'It's a fish bowl and pot luck,' Couples said of the format. 'I feel like I can pull off any shot at any time, and if I don't it doesn't take me three holes to figure my swing out. And I think the best thing that I do, I don't get flustered.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup
The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.
Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.
"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.
Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.
Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3
Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up
Match 3 — Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)
Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2
Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2
Match 6 — Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1
Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up
Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up
Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1
Match 10 — Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1
Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)
Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up
TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018
ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).
Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).
Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).
Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.
This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.
-NBC Sports Group-
Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf
Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.
He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.
The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.
He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.
“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.
It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.
For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.
Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.
In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.
Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.
For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.
“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”
But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.
“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”
In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.
His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.
As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.
“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.
“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.
It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.
Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.
“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”
If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.
Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.
Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.