Annika Back in Contention

By George WhiteJuly 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
Theres one day left in the 2006 U.S. Womens Open, and for yet another womens major, the situation is the same as it has been for roughly 10 years ' that is, Annika Sorenstam is solidly in the thick of it.
Sorenstam shadow-boxed with the Newport Country Club Saturday and came out even-steven with the par number. She shot a 71, with two birdies and two bogeys. In case youre wondering, thats pretty solid golf considering the course is soggy, the ball hits the ground and stops, meaning the course is playing very long. Throw in a very healthy breeze blowing constantly, and you have a recipe ready-made for high scores.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is in search of her 10th career major championship title.
Example: Annika has averaged 267 in driving distance throughout the year. However, the sloppy fairways this week have cut down on any roll and she has averaged almost 20 yards less ' 248.8.
This is a tough golf course, declared Sorenstam, especially with the conditions we have. I mean, we're getting no roll whatsoever; it's a really long golf course. The rough is thick, and the pins, I think, are quite tough. You just come here for the biggest challenge that we have throughout the year.
You really have got to drive it well, got to hit your long irons well and you've got to putt well and have a good short game. This is a true test, and all parts of the game have got to work for you to score. Par sometimes is a good (score), especially when we have wind like we did today. It's two to three clubs at times, and it's really a true test.
Sorenstam has hit a speed-bump on her run to the 88-win plateau set by Kathy Whitworth. Shes been stuck on 67 since the first tournament of the year, which she won. She has nine major championships over-all, but none this year. That sounds like a very harsh analysis of Annikas play this year. But, after all, she has set the bar very high, and so much more is expected of her than an average player.
Well, she said, its been a good run for a few years, so I think everybody pushes everybody. I think Im pretty good at setting some goals. I think Im pretty good at pushing myself and trying to reach levels.
If you look at the game today, womens golf is better than its ever been. Im thankful for the people that paved the way early on for me and showed me how its done. And Id like to say Im one of the ones thats done it for the next generation.
She let it be known, though, that she still thinks she can do plenty to keep the present generation aware that she can still play - really play.
I don't think I'm over the hill by any means. I feel like I have a lot more to give and achieve, and that's really what keeps me going, she said.

If you have somebody like Juli (Inkster), when I was around she probably was in the same situation as I am now. You see new generations of young players coming. I think it's really great to see how many young good players there are. It's how good the game is and how much women's golf is growing and how popular the LPGA is growing. I'm happy to be part of it and I'm competitive as ever; whether it's Paula Creamer or Juli Inkster standing with me on the last hole, I have a chance to win and I'll give it my best.
She faces a 36-hole final day Sunday, since heavy fog wiped out the entire first day Thursday. Sorenstam engages in a concentrated physical fitness program, ensuring that she can handle the rigors of a 36-hole tour of duty. Mentally, however, there is that taxing little problem of whether the mind can handle 10 hours of concentration.
For me, its going to be the mental part more than the physical part, said Annika. Its just can you stay focused for all those shots. If its windy, then you have to think so much more about the different shots. So I think that by late in the day well all be exhausted.
The physical aspects of it, though ' rather she is better able to handle a 36-hole day ' do not necessarily mean she is the favorite. Can Annika at 35 years of age be more physically fit than someone who is in her early 20s? She doesnt think about that ' but she DOES know that she is ready at last to win another major.
When I come out tomorrow (Sunday), Im going to feel like Im ready, she said.
I know that its not going to be something that I cant handle. I know that Im not going to have to worry about the physical part. All I have to worry about is hitting good shots, picking the right clubs and making some putts. Thats all Im going to worry about. The other part is just going to come and Ill be fine.
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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open at Carnoustie. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was one of dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even continuing to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

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    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.

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    Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

    There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

    Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.

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    “I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

    In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

    “It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

    “That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”