Dont Forget Who The Woman Is

By George WhiteOctober 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
This week its been Michelle Wie. Last month it was Paula Creamer. U.S. Womens Open week, it was Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang. At the beginning of the year, it was Lorena Ochoa.
But the 30-something woman just smiles and goes about her daily chore of winning golf tournaments. The others are just kids, she realizes ' albeit very talented kids. But Annika Sorenstam, who turned 35 earlier this week, isnt about to give up her throne to the youngsters. She might have given them hope for a brief moment when she didnt win an LPGA event for the better part of three months. But lest the children start celebrating too soon, she DID win a European event in her native Sweden in August. And she DID resume her winning ways on the LPGA with a win just three tournaments ago.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is still the player to beat on the LPGA Tour.
And this week, she goes for win No. 8 this year on the LPGA Tour when she plays in the Samsung World Championship in the Palm Springs area. The Samsung is a select-field event, comprising only 20 women. And ' this is a little intimidating ' she has won the tournament four times in the past, including last year.
Wie is 16, Pressel 17, Lang 19 and Creamer is 19. Ochoa is all of 23. They may be the future of womens golf, but the present is still the same as it was last year, the year before and the year before that. Annika is the name, and if she doesnt quite win six of every eight tournaments she enters ' she did that to start the year, you know ' she will easily win often enough to keep her name No. 1.
I am competitive, really doesn't matter who it is, said Annika, who has turned into an elder stateswoman before our very eyes.
I mean, I love to compete and that's one of the reasons I think I can continue to play at this high level - because I enjoy the challenge. I love the feeling and the adrenaline that pumps when you have a chance to win. Whether it's Paula, whether it's Lorena, whether it's Grace Park or Cristie Kerr - you name it; to me, it's just another player, it's somebody that I like to beat to be able to stay on top.
Creamer has gotten a lot of publicity for her excellent season ' she has 10 top-10 finishes. The other teens ' Wie, Pressel, Lang ' have numerous successes this year, also. Ochoa has either finished second or tied for second four times.
But wins? Forget it. Annika has won seven times, eight if you count the victory in Switzerland. And the next highest winner is hmmm, let me see oh ' Creamer and Kerr. Uh ' they both have two. They, along with the rest of the LPGA field, will have to go a long way before they are as successful as Mother Annika.
How far ahead of everyone is Annika? Light years, as much as a titanium golf ball is to a featherie. Example(s)?
Well, shes No. 1 on the money parade by more than $600,000 ' thats almost as big a difference as between No. 2 Creamer and No. 13 Birdie Kim. Shes No. 1 in scoring average ' by a large margin. Shes No. 1 in greens in regulation ' by a large margin. Shes tied for first in putting. Shes third in driving distance ' better work on that driving, Annika.
She enjoys the youngsters, though. She loves the challenge, loves the fact that, if she doesnt keep up the hard work, she will get trampled from behind.
It's great to be a part of it, Annika said. And for me, obviously I like to stay where I'm at. I love being at the top and a challenge is what I need to continue to get motivated. There are so many great players out here, you've got to work hard all the time to stay on top, and I love the challenge.
The gals better not count on her slowing down anytime soon. Annika had spoken quite often about putting it in the barn someday soon for the last 3-4 years, but a divorce last year derailed those hopes. With plans for starting a family definitely on hold ' maybe forever ' she has plowed straight ahead.
Who knows how long I will continue to play? said Annika. I love what I do and I've always said that if I wake up in the morning and I feel motivated to practice, if I feel excited to go to a golf tournament, then I will do that.
We'll just see. I haven't set a time line or anything like that. I know my limits. I know I can win the Grand Slam. I'm just going to try and figure out how to do it, and that's going to be my next few months, that's what's going to be on my mind, see how I can prepare for 2006.
Sounds like business as usual for the queen ' which is not exactly great news for the youngsters of the LPGA. But its great news for aficionados of golf. Sixty-three victories and still going as strong as she always has been - Annika Forever!
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

Getty Images

'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

Getty Images

Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”