Sorenstam Quietly Goes About Win Business

By George WhiteJune 4, 2002, 4:00 pm
One hundred years from now, people may be looking back at the year 2002 and say, That was when the greatest golfer in history was playing. Most people assume they will be talking about Tiger Woods. That may very well be ' but then again, they may be talking about Annika Sorenstam.
 
Sorenstam tied another all-time record last week. She shot 21-under in a 54-hole tournament. She missed a 15-foot putt on the last hole for 22-under. Records, though, have become so pass for her, though her modesty confounds most of the people who are expecting an athletic blunderbuss when they meet her.
 
There are those who believe Nancy Lopez was the greatest woman golfer ever. Some say Mickey Wright. Others believe it was Kathy Whitworth or Babe Zaharias, maybe Patty Berg. And they may be right. But it may well be Annika Sorenstam, who is just 31 years old but has won 35 times going into this weeks LPGA Championship.
 
There is no way of computing the greatest according to wins alone because, according to Beth Daniel, winning is so much more difficult today. Whitworth won 88 times, but would she have won that much if she played today? Wright won 82 times, Lopez 48 times, but would each been just as successful if they were trying to carve out victories today? Maybe ' but maybe not.
 
I think its much more difficult now, because I think the depth of players that are capable of winning is much greater, said Daniel. This is not to say that those players werent great ' only that Sorenstam deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. Daniel herself has 32 wins in a career that started back in 1979, certainly another generation.
 
Sorenstam, though, is a victim of Tiger. She happened to come into her own just as he did. Tiger has won 31 times on the PGA Tour since he turned pro late in 1996. It just so happens that Sorenstam has won ' surprise! ' 31 times over the exact same timespan. Tiger has won by some pretty audacious margins ' 15 in a U.S. Open, 12 in a Masters. But Sorenstam shot a 59 ' an LPGA record ' and has set or tied 31 records. And last week she won by 11 while shooting her record-tying 21-under.
 
Sorenstam is neither particularly long (she ranked 26th in driving last year) nor a particularly good putter (she finished 100th last year.) But she is such a deadly iron player. She hit nearly 80 percent of the greens last season, and that was five percent better than the second-place player ' Karrie Webb.
 
It was Webb who, just a couple of years ago, was considered the best player in the LPGA. But people underestimated Sorenstam, who deep inside has a smoldering to be The Best. She never was a particularly strong putter, but she made up for it by being the greatest iron player the LPGA has ever seen. She wants it so badly that she stayed in the gym, she went on a strict diet, and she has become an exercise maven in her own home. Today, she is No. 1, not because Webb is necessarily worse, but because Sorenstam has gotten appreciably better.
 
Im happy for her because shes really, really put in a lot of hard work, said Webb. And its paid off for her.
 
A lot of us have put in a lot of hard work, and some of us arent as fortunate as others. You know, she really wanted to be the best. She went out and did it. I mean, Im happy for anyone that puts in that amount of work and does what she has done.
 
Annika won eight times last year alone. For anyone outside of Tiger, thats phenomenal. She has won four times already this year. Webb is one of the players who is trying to keep her from winning eight in 2002, and she realizes that if Sorenstam reaches that number again, there wont be that many left for Webb herself.
 
Shes not going to try any less, said Webb. Shes not going to be any less determined, I dont think. I can tell you now, I will eat my hat if she wins eight tournaments from now on. I knew I wasnt going to do it. Im pretty sure shes not counting on winning eight tournaments.
 
Well, Sorenstam may be thinking of it now. She has four at the halfway point. She could easily win four more the second half. Doesnt that make eight for the second year in a row?
 
At 31, Sorenstam is just rounding into her prime. And she has never played better for three rounds than she played last week.
 
The combination of everything, this is probably the best Ive played, she said at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic in Chicago last week. Earlier in the year, I hit the ball really well. A month, I was putting well but not hitting it well.
 
This week, the way I hit it was as good as I have in a long time.
 
Danielle Ammaccapane was her playing partner Sunday when Sorenstam, leading by five after Saturday, shot a 65 to wind it up. She admitted she was awestruck as she watched the precision in Sorenstams shots.
 
Shes every bit as good as they say she is, Ammaccapane said. She leaves herself good angles to the green and doesnt mishit a lot of shots. She has everything.
 
Everything except the respect a player should have whos mentioned in the same sentence as the greatest in the game. Its about time for that to change, dont you think?
 

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DJ, McIlroy, Spieth listed as PGA betting favorites

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 1:38 pm

Three majors are in the books, but there's still one more trophy up for grabs in two weeks' time.

While next year The Open will signal the end of the 2019 major season amid a revamped calendar, this is the final year that the PGA Championship will be held in August. The tournament returns next month to Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis, which last hosted the PGA when Nick Price won in 1992 and hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since Camilo Villegas won the 2008 BMW Championship.

Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published PGA betting odds shortly after the final putt dropped at Carnoustie and Francesco Molinari left with the claret jug. Topping the board are a trio of major champions: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all listed at 12/1.

McIlroy won the PGA in both 2012 and 2014, while Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to round out the career Grand Slam. Johnson has recorded four top-10s in the PGA, notably a T-5 finish at Whistling Straits in 2010 when a few grains of sand kept him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

Fresh off a T-6 finish in Scotland, Tiger Woods headlines the group listed at 16/1, behind only the three co-favorites as he looks to win a 15th career major.

Here's a look at the betting odds for a number of contenders, with the opening round of the PGA just 17 days away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth

16/1: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

18/1: Justin Rose

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day

30/1: Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Paul Casey

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson

80/1: Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner

100/1: Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman

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Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:31 pm

After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.

The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.

A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.

The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.

That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.

Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.

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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

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Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.