Sports Outside the Beltway

Annika Sorenstam delays ‘retirement’

It’s just a pro-am scheduled by her management company. From Golf 365-

Annika Sorenstam has confirmed that she will take a temporary step back from retirement and play in a Annika bonanza in February.

“It’s called the Annika Celebration,” said the Swede, who is generally regarded as the greatest womens golfer for much of the two decades spanning the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.

“It’s really an event that IMG (her management company) is putting together to help me raise some money for my foundation to help me get it off to a little more than a kick-start. “But it’s also their (IMG’s) way of celebrating my career and what I’ve achieved.

It’s a three-day event we’ll be starting with a Pro-Am and then we have a – what would you call, like an exhibition match with Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and I think Natalie Gulbis and myself. “It will take place at Reunion in Orlando, just where my academy is. Again, it’s something that IMG is putting together; all of my sponsors are involved. We are tying it in with a Super Bowl party, so it should be little bit more on the lighter side than it has been in the past.

Did playing in events mean Sorenstam was keeping the door open for a full time return to tournament golf?

“Well, that’s the beauty of it, I suppose. I have the option to do that, and maybe that’s why I feel even more that I won’t. Never say never, but on the other hand, I feel great right now. This is what I’ve been waiting for (stepping away from the never-ending grind of professional circuits).

I honestly don’t think Annika’s retirement ‘stepping away’ from professional golf will last very long. Three years at the most.


Annika Sorenstam finishes 7th in farewell tournament

The Super Swede played in Dubai this weekend. From AP-

A teary eyed Annika Sorenstam birdied the last hole of her playing career amid thunderous applause to finish tied for seventh in the Dubai Ladies Masters on Sunday.

The Swede, greeted at the 18th by a huge banner saying “Dubai salutes Annika Sorenstam”, holed from 6 feet before watching Anja Monke, playing four groups behind, complete a comfortable three-shot victory over Italy’s Veronica Zorzi.

Annika Sorenstam, watching her putt on the eighth hole Sunday, closed the Dubai Ladies Masters with a 71 for a 6-under 282.

“I felt at peace walking up the 18th hole. I really felt very content,” the former world No. 1, who closed with a 71 for a 6-under 282, told reporters.

“I saw some players standing behind the 18th green; that gave me a tear. I saw my parents and my family and that gave me a tear.”

“Life goes on. I am very happy about my decision to move on,” said Sorenstam, who won 90 titles worldwide including the last two years in Dubai during a amazing spanning 15 years.

“I feel very happy [with my achievements] and at the same time if you think about 15 years and all of the things that I have achieved, it’s sad.

“But you close the door and you open another one. I am glad that I have a chance to do that,” said the 38-year-old who has, however, left the door slightly ajar should she wish to return.

“Well’s, that’s the beauty. I have the option to do that. Never say never. But, on the other hand, I feel great right now. This is what I have been waiting for,” said Sorenstam, whose last competitive round contained three bogeys and four birdies.

“There is a lot of talent out there. I feel very good about women’s golf, in general. It’s on the rise and it will continue to grow. I think stepping away at this time is very appropriate.”

Germany’s Monke closed with successive 68s for a 13-under-par score of 275 to add the Dubai Ladies Masters title to her victory in the French Open earlier this year.

Good luck Annika as you retire step away from the game and thank you for all the memories. Some how, I think you will be back in a few years.


The outrage- Annika Sorenstam’s ADT drug test

Today at the ADT is causing a stir. Ron Sirak wrote about it. Steve Elling had the following to say.

“I’m serious and I was tested two weeks ago, so I don’t really know what’s going on,” she said testily.

Guess they hadn’t heard that she was retiring.

“I have no idea, but they’re not going to let me go,” she said, forcing a laugh. “Yeah, I guess you get tested every other week now.”


Even for an organization known for making head-shaking decisions over the years, this ranks at the bottom of the latrine in terms of asinine, idiotic developments.

I’m not going to get into whether this is an insult or not. Annika has flouted rules or broke them in the past, and I’ve never been willing to give her a free pass just because she’s a golf superstar.

When was she tested before by the LPGA? Two weeks ago the LPGA was in Japan, Annika wasn’t in the field. Three weeks ago the LPGA was in South Korea, Annika was playing a LET event in China. Four weeks ago, Annika played a LPGA event in China. Here’s Annika’s LPGA results for 2008.

Annika played in Mexico last week. Did Annika mean Mexico or the LPGA China event? Or did she mixup the LET and the LPGA? I don’t know if the LET has a drug testing policy. Or did Annika make it up? I don’t believe that.

No member of the media at the ADT noted the discrepancy, just Annika’s anger. Did they give Annika a free pass or did no one know how LPGA schedule? Probably the later, which shows we golf bloggers know this tour better than the old fashioned media that covers the sport.


ADT Championship Day two- The Carnage

The news out of the LPGA event in West Palm Beach isn’t who made the 36 hole cut or Annika Sorenstam having to take a drug test after play ended or led at the end of the second day(IT don’t matter, all scores reset before play begins again tomorrow) but who missed the cut. Here’s a sampling-

#1 Lorena Ochoa
#2 Yani Tseng
3-time ADT Championship winner Annika Sorenstam
2007 Major Champions and South Floridians- Morgan Pressel and Cristie Kerr

I picked Kerr, and Ochoa to be around on Sunday. So they missing the cut comes as a complete surprise.

So who’s left- Katherine Hull, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, Paula Creamer, In Kyung Kim, Jeong Jang, Angela Park, Seon Hwa Lee, Ji Yai Shin, Helen Alfredsson, Eun hee Ji, Jee Young Lee, Suzann Pettersen, Sun Young Yoo, Karen Stupples, Karrie Webb.

Unlike in earlier years, no playoff was needed to narrow the field down to 16.

That’s 7 South Koreans(IK Kim, Jang, Lee, Shin, Ji, Lee, and Yoo) plus two Korean-Americans(Park and C Kim). If we go by the South of the Border factor, this week’s winner will be Angela Park. The 2006 ADT champ was Julieta Granada born in Paraguay, In 2007 it was Lorena Ochoa born in Mexico. Angela Park was born in Brazil. If Natalie Gulbis was around and got paired with Angela on Sunday, her winning the one million dollar grand prize would be all but certain. Gulbis played with Granada and Ochoa on Sunday when they won.

The only thing keeping the golf media from being dismayed over those players not around on the weekend, is probably the presence of media darling Paula Creamer, and part-time Florida resident Karrie Webb. Creamer would pass Ochoa for #1 on the money list with a win on Sunday, but I’m sticking with my original pick. Ji Yai Shin.

Others blogging on today’s play- Ryan, Hound Dog, and The Constructivist


ADT Championship Day Two

Play begins today at 9:30 when Cristie Kerr tees off. Kerr will be playing by herself because Inbee Park withdrew after 14 holes yesterday. Inbee must be either sick or injured, for she was 13 over par for the round.

Katherine Hull has the first round lead after a first round 68. She leads Ji Yai Shin and In Kyung Kim by one shot. Was I ever on target with my pre-tournament predictions for Shin, Hull, and Inbee(Though I was far off with Kerr but so was Greg Stoda at the Palm Beach Post)

Here are all the first round scores-


68 Katherine Hull
69 Ji-Yai Shin, In-Kyung Kim
70 Na Yeon Choi, Eun-Hee Ji, Ji Young Oh
71 Paula Creamer, Christina Kim, Karen Stupples
72 Yani Tseng, Suzann Pettersen, Seon Hwa Lee, Maria Hjorth Jee Young Lee, Candie Kung, Morgan Pressel
73 Angela Stanford, Jeong Jang, Helen Alfredsson Karrie Webb, Nicole Castrale, Angela Park
74 Annika Sorenstam, Hee-Won Han, Sun Young Yoo
75 Lorena Ochoa, Song-Hee Kim, Laura Diaz
78 Cristie Kerr, Shanshan Feng, Meena Lee
WD Inbee Park

Oh no 5 of the top 6 are South Korean and only one white American in the top nine and two in the top 16. Someone must be done to fix this inequity, maybe a foreign player quota but only for non-blondes.(Rolling my eyes)

Since scores reset after both Friday’s and Saturday’s play, the goal is to survive the cut after 36 and 54 holes. The big news yesterday is how Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, struggled. Ochoa and Sorenstam are in no way out of the picture for the weekend but they will have to play very good golf today.

The two best LPGA bloggers around, Hound Dog and The Constructivist, are also commenting on yesterday’s play.


The ADT Championship starts today

In West Palm Beach Florida. The 32 player field will start competing at Trump International when Ji-Yai Shin and Shanshan Feng go off the tee at 9:30.

That’s a interesting first pairing for a tournament, even for a limited field event. Shin is the defending British Open champion, ranked #6 in the world, and just 11 days off winning the LPGA Tour stop in Japan. Shin has to be considered one of the favorites this week. The probable reason for this early pairing is Shin not being a LPGA Tour member yet.

The ADT has a interesting playoff format. 32 players begin the tournament, but 16 are eliminated after Friday’s play ends. If there are any ties, a playoff takes place to eliminate any excess players. Then scores reset for Saturday play. At the end of Saturday, the top 8 only qualify for Sunday’s final round where the winner takes home a million dollar check. Julieta Granada won the ADT in 2006 and Lorena Ochoa won in 2007. Their good luck charm final round playing partner, Natalie Gulbis, is not in this year’s field.

How do I handicap the field. First I’ll give the Palm Beach Post’s picks for the final 8. As you can imagine, I got a bone to pick with the newspaper.

The Post in order of finish- Ochoa, Yani Tseng, Christina Kim, Paula Creamer, Inbee Park, Cristie Kerr, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb
My picks- Shin, Ochoa, Kerr, Feng, Helen Alfredsson, Sun Young Yoo, Katherine Hull, Creamer
Post picks to make it 54 holes- Jeong Jang, In Kyung Kim, Candie Kung, Song-Hee Kim, Angela Park, Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel, Yoo
My picks- Pressel, IK Kim, Kung, Webb, Pettersen, Tseng, C Kim, Ji Young Oh

My main gripes with the Post selections

1- Only South Korean player chosen.(Christina Kim) Two made it in 2006, two made it in 2007. The player who made it both years, Mi Hyun Kim, is not in this year’s field.

Inbee Park has played terrible since winning the US Open. Out of the 13 South Koreans in the field, she may well be my last choice this week. One surprise Korean player has made the final round both previous year. Last year it was Sarah Lee. I think we’ll have one this weekend too. Sun Young Yoo has been quietly been playing excellent golf for about two months.

Angela Park also was selected to make play on Saturday and she has been playing almost as poorly as In bee. The Post picked the wrong Korean major champion to be around Sunday, I’d bet Greg Stoda ten dollars its Shin over Inbee.

2- The selection of Karrie Webb. Webb made the final 8 both times, but she has been erratic at best in 2008 and isn’t playing the best golf of any Australian right now. That designation goes to Katherine Hull, who I picked to make the final 8.

We’ll have to wait till Sunday to see who is right.

Some other notes

*- Much has been made about Annika Sorenstam’s ‘retirement‘. While Annika won’t play the tour in 2009, I bet she comes back to compete 10-15 times in a year before 2013 comes and this won’t be her last ever Tour Championship. We’ll see who is right in 5 years.

*- Randall Mell of the Sun-Sentinel writes that ADT company didn’t want to end its sponsorship but the renewal price the LPGA was asking for was too high.

Also up with previews of the ADT Championship- Hound Dog and The Constructivist


Stick a fork in it- The LPGA’s Ginn Tribute is dead

Commissioner Bivens looks more than ever like the fool considering she sacrificed the Atlantic City LPGA tour stop by giving their dates on the schedule to the Ginn Tribute. From Golf World-

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — The Ginn Tribute which, along with the Ginn Open, has a $2.6 million purse, the richest of any U.S.-based LPGA event except the U.S. Women’s Open, will not return in 2009, multiple sources told Golf World. While neither the LPGA nor Ginn would confirm the demise of the Tribute, which is played at RiverTowne CC near Charleston, S.C., neither expressed optimism about its future.

“The [Ginn sur Mer] Classic [on the PGA Tour], the [Ginn] Championship [on the Champions Tour] and the Ginn Open are happening this year and next,” said Ginn spokesman Ryan Julison. “After we get past the Ginn Open we don’t know what the future holds.”

The Ginn Open is played in April and the Ginn Tribute comes after it, in May. Sources involved in broadcasting, tournament ownership and the LPGA said Ginn has pulled the plug on the Charleston event. The uncertainty expressed about the future after the Ginn Open also raises questions about the existence of all the Ginn tournaments after 2009.

“We have all those tournaments and no sponsors and in this economy it’s like a perfect storm,” Julison said. Ginn, which does its business in real estate, the hardest-hit sector in the downturn of the American economy, is said by insiders familiar with the cost of running tournaments to be on the hook for $25 million annually for the four events, one of the most ambitious investments by any company in tournament sponsorship. Late last summer, Robert Gidel, an expert operations man, was brought by investors to run the day-to-day business of the Ginn Company with Bobby Ginn remaining chairman and CEO.

“If I had to handicap the situation right now I would say that it is less than 50-50 that the Ginn Tribute will happen in 2009,” LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens told Golf World at the Evian Masters. “That said, we will have a tournament to replace it.”

Ginn has contractual obligations both to the LPGA and to NBC, which broadcasts the Ginn Tribute, for two more years. “We’re having ongoing conversations with the Ginn organization and we hope to work things out amicably,” Bivens said. “We also hope our broadcast partners, in this case NBC, are respected.”

Annika Sorenstam, who runs her Annika Golf Academy out of the Ginn Reunion Resort near Orlando, where the Ginn Open is played, hosts the Ginn Tribute. One possibility is the Ginn Open would become the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika. Sorenstam said she was unaware of the future of the Ginn Tribute.

The news is unconfirmed, and Sirak has serious limitations as a LPGA commentator, but he is usually dead on target when reporting straight news. Like his reporting a new LPGA tour stop in China months before it was officially announced.

There were rumors in April that Ginn tried to buy their way out of the 2008 event. I’m betting the rumors were true.

Update- Just thought of this. Seon Hwa Lee won the last Shoprite in 2006 and in 2008 she also won what appears to be the last Ginn, the tournament that replaced the Shoprite. Seon Hwa is quite a tournament wrecker, the HSBC Matchplay is also defunct. Will the NW Arkansas tournament be around in 2009?

The same thing used to be said about Lou Graham over 30 years ago. His first two wins on the PGA Tour were defunct already when Lou took home the 1975 US Open.


Will Golfweek’s Rex Hoggard please pick up the red courtesy phone

Another clueless idiot writing about golf. In an article about Michelle Wie playing in next week’s Reno-Tahoe Open, Hoggard exclaims-

If Reno officials wanted to be real creative, they could have offered the spot to Annika Sorenstam who made history a few years back at Colonial. She has a resume that would justify the offer, the respect of the other players in the field and even a vacation home close to Montreux.

Instead, with apologies to Wie, they went with the bearded lady.

Comparing Wie to a circus freak is really beneath most of Wie’s detractors. The real freaks are Hoggard and his employer Golfweek. If either had three brain cells working, they’d know Annika Sorenstam is only playing in a major championship the same time as the Reno tournament. The Women’s British Open. She is unavailable to play in Nevada.

If Hoggard answers the page, I’ll recommend he see a good proctologist. That in order to get his head out of his ass.


Is golfer Annika Sorenstam pregnant?

Tiger Woods made some interesting remarks at a press conference yesterday-

Q. What was your reaction when you heard Annika, that she would retire at the end of the season? And have you spoken with her since then? And, if so, what have you spoken about?

TIGER WOODS: I knew that was going to happen. She’s done it all. She’s been through it all. For men and women, it is two totally different things. Who knows, she might come back or not. I doubt it. I don’t see Annika ever doing anything half-ass. The time she is going to spend with her child and her family, I don’t ever see her ever wanting to come back to the game of golf in that capacity. What it takes to do that, I don’t foresee her doing it. We talked quite a bit after that.

Based on these comments, golf bloggers Ryan and Geoff have begun the speculation. That the reason Annika announced her retirement is due to her being pregnant. Could Annika of been pregnant at the time of the press conference? I don’t remember what movie it was said in, but here’s my three word reply-

Not bloody likely.

Here’s why-

Annika stated at her May 13th press conference that her last event would be the Dubai Ladies Masters . That tournament ends on December 13th 2008.

If Annika knew she was pregnant at the press conference, she would have to be at the very least four weeks pregnant.(An HPT finding out that very day she is having a baby). If Annika was 4 weeks at the time of her conference, I used an online pregnancy calculator to determine-

Her due date would be January 20, 2009

Therefore she would be 34.4 weeks pregnant minimum the day the Dubai tournament ends.

All of you raise your hands if you know a professional lady golfer who competed in a pro golf tournament at that time in her pregnancy?

Not too many hands up in the air, eh?

Therefore I hypothesize that Annika was probably not pregnant at the time of her May 13th press conference.

Other circumstantial evidence in favor of my opinion-

1- A doctor would likely tell Annika to stop playing

2- Annika would likely not want to risk both her and her first child’s health by competing.

3- Fellow Swede Carin Koch is an LPGA pro in addition to being mother to two and she and Annika know one another well. Annika would likely of known when Carin stopped playing.

A woman can play golf if she wants up to birth, but the Vicky Hurst story notwithstanding, it isn’t the most comfortable of things to do. An amateur golfer also can use a golf cart, Annika would have no such thing in Dubai.

Could Annika be pregnant? Yes. If she is, I wish Annika well.

Would she play Dubai next December if she was 34 weeks pregnant at the time? No.


Annika Sorenstam announces her retirement

She will play the remainder of the 2008 LPGA season and then make her final competitive appearance in Dubai. From AP-

Annika Sorenstam will retire after the season, ending an LPGA Tour career in which she has won 72 tournaments to date and delivered a defining moment when she teed it up against the men on the PGA Tour.

“I think I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I could,” she said during a news conference Tuesday at the Sybase Classic in Clifton, N.J. “I have given it all, and it’s been fun.”

The 37-year-old Sorenstam has hinted at retirement the past several seasons, saying she wanted to devote more time to her growing business and to start a family. She is engaged to Mike McGee, son of former PGA Tour player Jerry McGee.

“This would be very much like Annika to get on top and then quit,” said Judy Rankin, a Hall of Famer and television analyst.

Sorenstam said her final event would be the Dubai Ladies Masters after the LPGA Tour season ends.

“I’m leaving the game on my terms,” she said.

The decision comes two days after Sorenstam won the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill by seven shots for her third victory of the season, and first against a field that included Lorena Ochoa.

Playing the tour and successfully raising a family aren’t simple things to do. Just look at the list of LPGA golfers who are Moms and won on tour. Other than Juli Inkster, there isn’t a player/Mom with wins in double figures. Note- Nancy Lopez is a Hall of Famer like Juli, but Nancy’s best days are behind her. She has trouble breaking 80 now.

Annika has never been a favorite of mine. Partly because some of her conduct makes it look as if she thinks rules don’t apply to her.(I did give her credit for turning down an invite to the Samsung last year) Another reason is that I’m always partial to underdogs. Annika when playing at the top of game, runs away from the field in a LPGA tournament. I like watching golf, but seeing someone win by 8 shots is just boring to me. If you say Annika was the greatest golfer to ever play the LPGA Tour, you won’t get an argument out of me.

I wish Annika happiness off the course. She will be missed.


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