With Winning Streak Over Annika Refocuses
Sorenstam's bid for a record sixth consecutive win fell apart in one hole Sunday afternoon. But there's another tournament this week, and her game is so strong she could start another streak any time she plays.
'I was ready to play, it just didn't happen unfortunately,' she said after ending her streak with a tie for 12th at the Michelob Ultra Open on Sunday. 'I am a little sad about that. But I will dig deep and come back next week and play well.'
The rest of the LPGA Tour should consider itself warned.
Sorenstam has long dominated the tour, winning 59 tournaments and seven player of the year awards in 11-plus seasons. But her run over the last six months has been particularly spectacular.
She arrived at the Michelob Ultra Open having won five straight tournaments, matching Nancy Lopez's record that had stood since 1978. She'd won running away and coming from behind. One of the victories was at a major championship.
She had played 43 straight rounds at par or better, and hadn't finished a tournament above par in almost two years.
But she was stymied by the rebuilt greens on Kingsmill's River Course. She finished 10 shots behind winner Cristie Kerr, giving up at least a dozen strokes on missed putts, most only a few inches off. She averaged 30 putts per round.
'I'm not going to find any excuses for it. It was totally me,' said Sorenstam, who took a longer-than-normal five-week break after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship. 'I just didn't putt very well.'
If she had, the talk this week might be about making a run at Byron Nelson's record of 11 straight victories, not starting over.
'I am disappointed, there is no doubt about it,' she said. 'I just have to start over and maybe I can do another streak.'
She certainly has the game for one. She leads the tour in greens in regulation, and is second in driving distance. At Kingsmill, her tee shots were routinely 10 or 15 yards ahead of her playing partners, and she had one that carried 300 yards.
Nothing rattles her, either. While other players struggled with winds that gusted up to 25 mph Sunday morning, Sorenstam was one of 11 players to shoot under par (69). That put her in a tie for fifth place - a pretty good leap for someone who was in danger of missing the cut after the first round.
'There is a lot of good things out there,' she said of her game. 'It's just that I couldn't really put it together. I thought I drove it well at times. I am hitting it further. I always play aggressive.
'It's gonna work, I know it will,' she added. 'It's just a matter of patience and hanging in there.'
Especially since, no offense to the rest of the tour, no one's presented much of a challenge. Old foes Karrie Webb, Grace Park and Se Ri Pak haven't been much of a factor lately. Youngsters like Natalie Gulbis are improving, but have yet to show they can stand up to Sorenstam week after week.
Kerr might be the one to make things interesting. She's made it clear she wants to be not just the best in the United States, but among the best in the world. She's second to Sorenstam on the money list and in the player of the year rankings, and the Michelob Ultra Open was her fifth career victory, fourth since the start of 2004.
And now she's finally shown she can beat Sorenstam. Her other victories came when the Swede was out of the field, and she failed in two previous chances to end Sorenstam's winning streak.
'To know that you can play that well and beat the best players in the world - perhaps be one of the best players in the world - is a great feeling,' Kerr said. 'I feel like I reached a new level in my game.'
She'll get plenty of chances to test that out in the coming weeks. Though Sorenstam refused to blame her extended break for her poor showing, she's entering a stretch where she'll be playing a lot and that can only help her game.
Plus, there are those two majors looming next month. The streak Sorenstam really wants is the grand slam, and she's already won one.
'Just because I didn't win here, I am not going to take all that away from me,' she said. 'I did win five times. I won Nabisco, which is what I wanted to do. I'm not complaining by any means. I'm just a little frustrated about the last few days. But life goes on.
'It's a new tournament next week, and hopefully I can read those greens.'
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”