Annika the Best but Not Invincible

By Mercer BaggsJuly 26, 2004, 4:00 pm
Annika Sorenstam is vincible. Its actually a word. I looked it up. It means exactly what you think it would mean: the opposite of invincible.
Sorenstam held a three-stroke lead entering the final round of this past weeks Evian Masters in Evian-les-Baines, France. And, for some reason, the rest of the field still decided to wake up and play 18 holes Saturday, the final day of the tournament, instead of hopping on a plane and getting a jump on the upcoming Womens British Open in England.
And, you know what? Annika lost. To Wendy Doolan. Thats unpossible! (OK, thats not a word.) But what was thought to be impossible was just improbable, and in the end quite possible.
Sorenstam is the most fearful figure on any respective tour. Tiger Woods owned that title of intimidation until recently. But players no longer shriek and shrivel when Woods name nears the top of the leaderboard.
That was obvious earlier this year when Woods held the outright 36-hole lead in back-to-back weeks, at the Wachovia Championship and EDS Byron Nelson Championship, and failed to win either.
Time and again, Woods has won by simply being the front-runner. He's posted mediocre scores and not been tackled from behind because others were afraid to get close to him.
But no one backed down from Woods at the Wachovia ' even though they were well aware that he had won 18 consecutive PGA Tour events when holding at least a share of the midway lead.
This time, he wasn't able to get away with mediocrity.
And after seeing him finally fail to close, it had to be a little easier to stare him down in Dallas the following weekend.
Yet despite Tigers failures this season, he has yet to blow a 54-hole lead. Yet. That may be because he has yet to hold a 54-hole lead this season. And if he were to do that ' stumble as a pacesetter on Sunday, that would surely be the surest sign that Superman has entered his Fortress of Solitude and become mortal ' that Tiger, too, is vincible.
Woods has had some quite memorable and dramatic come-from-behind performances in his career ' just ask Steve Scott or Matt Gogel. But he became golfs Intimidator by consistently, opportunity after opportunity sealing the deal on Sunday. Thirty-two times on the PGA Tour he has held at least a share of the lead entering the final round; 30 times he has won.
Sorenstam, on the other hand, isnt as surefire a bet to finish what she started.
She has 55 times (according to taken at least a share of the lead into the final round on the LPGA Tour and 34 times come out victorious.
Fifty-five times?!? Thats a staggering amount, but you have to consider this includes 18 times when she held the lead heading into the final round in a 54-hole event and 37 times when she did the same in a 72-hole event.
The key to finishing ahead of the Mighty Annika, when shes nearing the summit, ready to plant her flag, is to extend the race to the top.
At least thats the story the statistics tell.
You might think that the longer the event ' 72 holes as opposed to 54 holes, the greater the advantage it would be to Annika. After all, there is less likelihood for an upset with an additional 18 holes tacked on at the end.
But Sorenstam seems to fare better in the 800 meters than in the mile.
She has won 12 of the last 13 ' and eight straight ' when holding at least of share of the lead heading into the final round of a 54-hole tournament. For her career, she is 13-for-18 in converting such leads into victory.
By contrast, she has won only six of the last 13 tournaments when taking at least a share of the lead into the final round of a 72-hole event. She is 21-for-37 under this scenario.
What does it all say? Well, it says that Annika has put herself in position to win an unbelievable amount of times. It says that 34 of her 52 career LPGA Tour victories have come when setting the final-round pace. That means she has 18 come-from-behind victories on the LPGA Tour. Woods, by comparison, has 38 career stroke-play victories (and two Match Play titles) on the PGA Tour, and only eight have been by way of comeback.
It says that you should be fearful of Annika when she lurks behind you, and hopeful when shes ahead.
And it says that, amazingly, she could have many more titles to her credit.
Yes, Annika Sorenstam is better ' and more intimidating to her peers ' than anyone on any tour. But she is vincible, as well.
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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”