Annika The Best Says Mallon

By George WhiteNovember 25, 2002, 5:00 pm
Meg Mallon was already an established LPGA veteran by the time Annika Sorenstam joined the tour. Mallon had been a pro almost seven years, in fact, by the time the Swede got around to playing professionally in America. And what Meg saw back then was light years away from what she sees now.
You know, she was a good collegiate player (at the University of Arizona), starts Mallon, very diplomatically. Sorenstam, like Mallon, didnt qualify for the LPGA immediately, having to spend a year in Europe before she could make it in the U.S. I told her, Dont worry, you can make it as a conditional player, dont worry about it, youll get in tournaments.
What she is doing now, I never would have predicted that, but certainly I knew she would be a very good player out here.
Translation: Mallon had seen about a hundred rookies come ' and go ' in her career up to that point. Sorenstam had a pretty good college career, but she hadnt done it yet in the pros. Meg didnt know if Sorenstam would make a splash on the pro scene as she had in college. A nice person ' thats Mallon ' said all the right things (Dont worry, you can make it as conditional player.) But she never, ever suspected Annika would absolutely have the LPGA as a personal plaything.
She got a hint at the 1995 Open. Sorenstam was playing in her second season and, predictably, hadnt won yet. This was the year that Mallon should have won the Open, going into the final day with a two-stroke lead on the field. But Sorenstam timidly hung tough, poking her nose out front on 13, and despite two bogeys coming in (Ive never been that nervous, she said), outdistanced Mallon to the finish line.
Yeah, I was five shots ahead of her at the U.S. Open, and - it's a good memory, Mallon said at last weeks ADT Championship. I had a putt on the last hole to tie her, but Jerry Potter (of USA Today newspaper) said I'm the one that kick-started her career (Mallon missed the birdie try). So I guess I'll take credit for that. That's the one that sticks out in my mind.
Annika, of course, doesnt get nervous much anymore. She has become the epitome of the Little Golfer That Could, whacking tee balls on line and far off into the distance, striping irons right at the flagpole, outthinking opponent after opponent. Its enough to give the LPGA cause for a shudder or two.
Certainly, you know she's not going to make a mistake, said Mallon. That's why it's hard to play her. She minimizes her mistakes better than any player in golf - all of golf. She hardly makes a mistake. So that means that you need to go out and be mistake-free or make a ton of birdies.
You know she's going to bring her best, which is why she's No. 1, and you would have to go out and play really solid golf. She's had bad days sometimes, but you can't count on that. So your mindset would be to go out and be aggressive and make birdies, definitely.
Mallon has had plenty of time to view Sorenstam up close in their nine years together now on tour. And like all Annikas opponents, Mallon has come to realize that she has a front-row seat to a slice of history. Annika is different from any other hot-shot collegian ' in fact, different from any other pro.
You know, people go out and set goals to be No. 1, said Meg. She is, I think, gone beyond her expectations. It's pretty exciting to see in this era.
I've studied our history and know what Mickey Wright did and what Kathy Whitworth did, and those years where they won, 10,11, 13 times in a year, but they were playing against 20, 30 people. That's pretty impressive, what she's doing.

Sorenstam is impressive, indeed. What shes doing is making a career out of being nearly unstoppable.
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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

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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.

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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.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”