Sorenstam focused on hosting tournament helping kids
She’s going to return to the LPGA ... as a tournament founder and host.
Sorenstam is determined to host her own LPGA event in Orlando to benefit her new children’s wellness foundation at Florida Hospital. She’s just beginning talks with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan about structuring a tournament and finding a sponsor.
“I will make it happen,” said Sorenstam, a Hall of Famer with 72 LPGA titles. “It’s just a matter of when, and how we’re going to set it up. Is it going to be full field? I don’t know.”
Sorenstam’s made almost all her dreams come true, so who’s going to bet against her? She was, after all, undaunted after retiring in a recession. She launched a clothing line, a wine business and her own perfume in the toughest of times. Sorenstam says she’s driven to use her passion for golf and the LPGA to benefit children at the new Annika Foundation Wellness Center at Florida Hospital. Sorenstam makes her home in Orlando with her Annika Academy based at Reunion Resort.
“I want to do something like what Arnold Palmer’s done here in Orlando,” Sorenstam said. “I think that’s been fantastic.”
Sorenstam knows she can’t get a tournament started earlier than 2012, but she’s seeking Whan’s help in accelerating the process.
“I want an event that will last,” said Sorenstam, who will be one of the legendary player instructors in Golf Channel’s upcoming “12 Nights at the Academy” series. “I don’t want a tournament for two or three years. I’m looking for something with a solid base and long-term partnerships. It doesn’t have to start big.
“It’s different than me just saying I’m having an event and inviting three players. I can do that on any day. That’s why I’m talking to the LPGA. This would be a little different. It’s all about space in the schedule. There are so many pieces to an event.”
The series “12 Nights at the Academy” begins Nov. 29. Sorenstam will appear on Dec. 1 (7:30 p.m. ET). Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Greg Norman are among the headliners. In Sorenstam’s appearance, she details to host Kelly Tilghman the best lesson she’s ever received, a lesson from her father that was as much about life as golf. Tilghman also draws out how Sorenstam hit nerve-racking tee shots, like the opening drive Sorenstam struck when she played against PGA Tour pros at the Colonial in 2003, and how Sorenstam overcame nerves to become the only player to shoot 59 in an LPGA event.
While Sorenstam, 40, showed she can still make a bunch of birdies tying for 15th in the mixed men’s and women’s Pebble Beach Invitational last weekend, she insists she has no desire to return to the LPGA as a player. She told Tilghman she’s focused on expanding her family with husband Mike McGee and wants a second child. The couple’s first, Ava Madelyn McGee, turned 1 in September.
Sorenstam’s desire to improve children’s health is manifest in the Annika Foundation Wellness Center. The center opened in April with a Sorenstam gift of $350,000. The center’s aimed at curbing the problems caused by obesity. A team that includes a medical doctor, psychologist, nutritionist and fitness expert treat struggling children. The center opened with five children enrolled and has grown to 40.
“There’s a long line of families who want to apply,” Sorenstam said. “It’s just that we’re not big enough to take them all yet. We are just in this temporary building right now, but our goal is to have a state-of-the-art facility right by Florida Hospital. Kids work with the team. It’s not just about eating right. It’s about exercise, the whole thing. Some of these kids have diabetes, so they have to work with a doctor, some have psychological issues.”
If Sorenstam has her way, they'll all have help.
Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut
Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.
Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.
Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.
Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.
While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:
No prob Doug. I’m +11 now and tweeting during my round. I’m playing as hard as I can. I have 8 holes left if you want to come out and kiss my ass. https://t.co/UMeFWFKLVP— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) May 24, 2018
New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead
After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.
The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.
"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."
The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.
"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."
Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.
Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.
"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."
McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead
VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.
Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.
The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.
McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).
''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.
''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''
McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.
After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.
Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.
Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.
Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain
After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.
The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.
"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."
Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.
"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."
Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.
Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.
"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."