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Annika Duval and Open Thoughts

Annika Sorenstam
  • If you are starting to get tired of the 'Annika' story, you shouldn't. By playing respectably against the men in Texas, beating the women in Chicago and capturing her fifth major in Delaware, she has had a great career in the last three weeks.
    She will rest now. The men will play the U.S. Open and the Annika Sorenstam story will subside from the news. But here's a flash: If they voted on Player of the Year (male or female) right now, it wouldn't be close. Sorenstam would win hands down and that would be as it should.
    Also, if Annika had birdied the 18th hole in her second round at the McDonald's LPGA, she would have shot 62. No man or woman has ever shot lower than 63 in a major championship.
  • Talk about a round coming our of nowhere. David Duval's 62 in the second round at the TPC at Avenel could not have been foreseen. He had carded 74 the day before and would shoot 73 the day after. He had missed nine of his previous 12 cuts and his world ranking had plummeted to No. 82.
    David DuvalThrough all of this vicious slump Duval has kept working. After shooting 83 at the Masters earlier this year he repaired to the practice range and hit balls for two and a half hours. Does that sound like a player who doesn't care?
    A lot of things have happened to Duval on and off the golf course in the past two years. The 62 proves there is a player inside his mind and body trying desperately to find a way out. It says here he will succeed in escaping from golf hell. Don't expect that to happen this week at the U.S. Open near Chicago at Olympia Fields. But don't be surprised if it does.
  • Speaking of Olympia Fields, for all the talk about it being too short for a U.S. Open, its yardage will play barely 40 yards less than Bethpage Black, the monster site of last year's Open. Both courses play to a par 70.
    Olympia FieldsOlympia Fields is a wonderful old Willie Park Jr. (he designed Western Gailes in Scotland and Maidstone out on Long Island) track and the bunkers are cavernous. The routing is marked by variety.
    My biggest concern is pace of play. There are several areas that threaten to slow players because of crowd congestion. Nobody wants six hour rounds. I will stay with my early contrarian pick: Phil Mickelson to win. He was driving wildly while missing the cut at Avenel last week. Maybe that's good. Maybe he will win his first major when everybody is looking the other way.
  • Finally, I loved the style with which 58-year-old John Jacobs won the Senior PGA at Aronimink over the weekend. A massive talent since his early teens, Jacobs squandered a career as a young man. He hung out with horseplayers and pro football jocks. Golf wasn't his top priority. But ability was never the problem. Focus was.
    He knows that now and don't tell him he can't win one of these things again.