88 a Definite Possibility Now

By George WhiteNovember 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
Oh, Annika! She won early this year (six of her first eight), and late this year (two of her last three). She won by big margins (eight shots at Kraft Nabisco, 10 shots at Chick-Fil-A, eight at Samsung) and close margins (one at the John Q. Hammons). She won by coming from hopelessly behind (four down with three to go in the Safeway), she won half the majors, she won all seven times when she had the lead going into the final day.
But mostly, she just kept on winning. And when it was finally over Sunday at the ADT Championship, you total them up and it was the second best season of her career ' 10 wins in 20 attempts, 11 if you count a win in her native Sweden.
It gives her a career record of 66 wins, 22 behind Kathy Whitworths record of 88. But more importantly, this is where Annika enters uncharted territory for the LPGA.
Sorenstam just completed her 12th season. Whitworths last big-win season came in her 12th year. So did Mickey Wright, who stands second with 82 victories. Whitworth had 73 wins after her 12th, though she played on and actually won the final time when she was 56 years of age. Wright had 80 wins at 12 years, but shut it down abruptly and only won twice more.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is just 22 wins shy of matching Kathy Whitworth's magic number of 88 career wins.
Both Whitworth and Wright suffered near-breakdowns in their 12th year because of the tremendous pressure put on them to continually play. Not Annika, though. She is seemingly at peace with herself, fortified by a steely disposition and, at age 35, looking ahead to many more years of fulltime play.
I mean, I am working as hard in the gym as ever, said Sorenstam, and I feel as strong as ever. And - knock on the wood - I haven't had any injuries.
I think most of it, I have learned so much the last few years. I think I've learned how to control my temper. I still get a little upset at times, but I'm better at converting it. I don't throw away shots as much as I used to. So I guess in a way, I matured a little bit and putting things in the right perspective when I'm out there
Actually, although Sorenstam now has 66 LPGA victories after 12 years, she has 13 more wins around the world ' mostly in Europe. That would give her 79 if all were to count ' nearly even with Wright and six ahead of Whitworth. Whitworth had no other medal-play wins and Wright had only a couple. The womens European tour wasnt formed yet.
Thats not to belittle Wright and Whitworth in the least ' their victory totals are indeed awesome. But it does show the enormity of Annikas win record, were she given credit for all she has accomplished.
Still, though, 88 wins is difficult for even Sorenstam to imagine. She tends to shy from any comparisons of her vs. Kathy, knowing the deficit is still imposing indeed.
Again, it's just so much, she says. But then again, I'm on my way.
You know, I started great; I finished great this season; I'm going to come out next year and see what happens.
She says her only goal is to win all four majors in one season. She presently has nine, including the Kraft Nabisco and the McDonalds this year. Sorenstam is still six behind Patty Berg, who has 15.
Twenty-two wins, when you think about it, still seems so far away, especially when you are already 35. A Hall-of-Famer such as Donna Caponi only had 24 her entire career, Judy Rankin 26. Laura Davies has only 20, Meg Mallon 18.
Previously, 22 more would have been out of the question. Now, though, it is definitely out there on the horizon. Her marriage ended last year, scuttling her talk of impending retirement to start a family. Annika has won 24 times in the last three years alone, compiling six in 2003 and eight in 2004 in addition to 10 this year.
Can she continue on the torrid streak for another 3-4 years? Well, this year was the second-best campaign of her career, following 2002 (when she was 32) when she won 11 times. On the other hand, more good young American talent is coming up through the ranks, and the South Koreans are beginning to emerge. Sorenstam will face that competition.
The entire world, though, has tremendous respect for Annika. Sorenstam wants to be remembered as a person who loved what she does and who is admired as a good person, more than she hopes to be remembered as a person who won many tournaments. And, she feels like she has succeeded.
Yes, I think I have, yes, Annika said. No, I do. I mean to me, I guess you can only alter your goals so many times, and I have done that. There is no doubt.

But I've also felt like the goals have to come from within. 88 wins is something that is out here and it's just, I've just never felt like that was reachable, and I guess that's why I'm saying or I'm not so driven to get there. It has not been a natural goal of mine.
So she has achieved her real goal. Her secondary goals are still out there ' both the four-majors-in-one-year and the 88 wins.
Can she do it? Well . why not?
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

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

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

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.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

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.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

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.

Full coverage of the 147th Open 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.”