Sports Outside the Beltway

Annika vs Pat at the US Open and other notes

*- The US Women’s Golf Open ended in a tie yesterday. Pat Hurst and Annika Sorenstam both finished at 284 even par for four rounds. An 18-hole playoff will begin in a few minutes.

What can be said about this playoff? On paper, it looks like a rout. Annika is the best golfer on tour, and arguably the best player in LPGA history with over 60 career victories including 9 major championships. Pat Hurst is a grinder or journeywoman with 4 tour victories, one of which was a major championship.

These two golfers have some history together. In 1997 Annika beat Pat in a playoff at the ITT LPGA Tour Championship. In 2000 they faced one another in a team match at the Solheim Cup. Annika chipped the ball in on one hole and then was made to do it again when the American team said she played out of turn.

So what is my prediction? My personal favorite is Pat, I don’t want to see the ‘Evil One’ win this one. Pat is one of the Moms on tour, she has two small children. Other than Juli Inkster she is arguably the best playing Mother on tour.

Pat has been a consistent player. She has finished in the top 30 money winners every year from 1996-2005 except 1999 and 2002. Those were the years Pat gave birth to her son and daughter.

Unfortunately both players records make this an easy pick. Not just because Annika has over 60 wins vs Pat’s four, but for Hurst’s record of choking.

She is 0-3 in Playoffs lifetime.

The 2005 Wendy’s Championship saw Pat double bogey the 18th hole to lose after coming to the 18th tee tied for the lead.

The 2003 Longs Drugs saw Pat also double bogey 18 when a par won and a bogey tied. Hurst four putted the last hole from 60 feet.

The 2006 LPGA where if Pat had played the last 28 holes in par she would have won the tournament.

A tournament in 2001(Office Depot in CA?) where Pat blew a big Sunday lead.

That makes it an easy choice- Annika Sorenstam 71 Pat Hurst 75

*- If anyone doubted if Se Ri Pak’s return to form was genuine, the US Open should have expunged these thoughts. Se Ri finished tied for 3rd yesterday. The Queen of South Korean golf is certainly back.

*- Jeong Jang at 18 in yesterday’s 3rd round. She definitely double hit the ball. There is no way that ball turned right without the help of JJ’s golf club. The USGA made the right call.

Update- Annika 70, Pat 74. I had the margin exactly right and only one stroke off the player’s scores. It was no contest, a birdie-bogey start put Hurst in a hole she never got out of.

The playoff went very quickly, finishing in a little over three hours. The 2003 Lunke-Stanford-Robbins playoff took five hours.


Two tied for the lead at The LPGA Championshp

From AP-

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md.· Pat Hurst let everyone back into the LPGA Championship with a four-putt double bogey. Michelle Wie might be tied for the lead if not for missing a par putt from 18 inches.

Not even Annika Sorenstam was immune from a crazy, windsept Saturday at Bulle Rock with a two-shot penalty that sent her spiraling down the leaderboard and likely out of contention for a fourth straight title in this major. When the sun finally set on a long day filled with mistakes and blown putts, the LPGA Championship was up for grabs.

Hurst missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and had to settle for an even-par 72. That left her tied for the lead with Japanese sensation Ai Miyazato, who lost a 54-hole lead a week ago trying to win for the first time on the LPGA Tour, and now gets another chance.

They were at 7-under 209, one shot ahead of a group that includes Wie.

The 16-year-old from Hawaii three-putted for bogey three times, none as shocking as the par-3 17th. Standing over what looked to be a tap-in for par, she caught the left edge of the cup and stood in the fading sunlight with a stunned look on her face. Wie rebounded with a 10-foot birdie on the final hole for a 1-under 71, still believing she can be golf’s youngest major champion.

Sorenstam birdied her first hole and marched confidently down the second fairway, ready to make a charge and silence anyone who has questioned her game over a seven-tournament drought. But she lifted a chunk of sod from a divot hole next to her ball, Karrie Webb had no choice but to call the penalty, and Sorenstam got a two-stroke penalty.

“It was a mistake I made,” Sorenstam said after stumbling to a 75, leaving her six shots behind with 21 players between her and the leaders. “It’s never too late, but things have to change.”

The way this major is shaping up, the leaderboard could change with every shot.

Shi Hyun Ahn and Mi-Hyun Kim, playing alongside Wie, each shot 71 and joined her one shot out of the lead. Mexican star Lorena Ochoa, the hottest player on the LPGA Tour with two victories and five second-place finishes, took a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole for a 71 but was still only two shots behind, along with Jee Young Lee and the resurgent Se Ri Pak.

Webb, the only player with a chance to win the Grand Slam this year, was rattled by having to call the penalty shot on Sorenstam and was sliding out of contention until she rallied to shoot 72, joining the group at 4-under 212.

Twenty players were within five shots of the lead.

Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, the 18-year-old rookie and runner-up at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open, was two shots off the lead after a birdie on the second hole, but that was as good as it got. Tossing clubs in frustration, she collapsed to a 7-over 79 and finished the third round 10 shots out of the lead.

1- A crowded leaderboard with 13 golfers separated by 3 shots. The golf course is playing very difficult I consider 3 shots optimum range for making a comeback under these conditions.

It could be a dramatic final round. Some of the reasons for it I’ll state below. It could be anti-climatic as well. The 1995 Masters and 1986 Men’s US Open saw much more clogged up leaderboards. The later with a 9 way tie for the lead with 10 holes to go! Back nines on Major Championship Sundays have a way of sorting the contenders and pretenders out.

2- Michelle Wie is only one shot out of the lead. A win would be the biggest headline possible for this tournament. I watched yesterday’s play and Michelle was driving it very poorly. She can’t continue to do this and win.

3- The one I may be pulling for more than any is Se Ri Pak. Se Ri hasn’t won in 2 years and saw a dramatic drop off in her play since qualifying for the Hall of Fame in 2004. She sounded and looked confident in a TV interview yesterday. Much like the Se Ri of the past. A win here would be a big comeback and similiar to Karrie Webb’s triumph in 2006′s first major the Nabisco.

4- Talking about Karrie she’s three out going into today. She could win the first two legs of the grand slam.

5- What the @#%^! was Annika thinking yesterday? This article explains what went on better than AP did. She should have known the rules.

Some may note Annika got in a rules dispute with Paula Creamer at last year’s ADT. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. There is a well known cheat on the PGA tour. He is a former major championship winner even. I’ll just say NO ONE is above suspicion.

Why did calling a penalty on Annika rattle Karrie? She was doing what was right. More flakey AP reporting by Doug Ferguson. I’ve questioned some of his writing at my main blog.

6- Morgan Pressel needs to keep her emotions under control better. She is known for displaying them. Bad rounds happen. Time to move on.

7- Meena Lee who is 3 back needs a win to qualify for the US Open. Despite 2 wins since last July, Meena failed to file an entry for this year’s Open.

8- South Koreans could get register 7th tour win of the year so far. Besides Pak and Meena, Mi Hyun ‘Peanut’ Kim, Shi Hyun ‘Cinderella’ Ahn and Jee Young ‘Cinderella II’ Lee are in the top 13 players on the leaderboard. Michelle Wie is Korean-American, I’m not counting her.

A nation of 40 million people without a organized youth or college golf programs keeps rolling out LPGA winners.

9- Out of the leaders only Webb, Pak and Hurst(1998 Nabisco Champ) are former major champs. Other than Juli Inkster, Pat may be the best playing Mother on tour. She has two young children. Only about 30-40 LPGA players are Moms also.

10- Lorena Ochoa currently this year’s leading money winner is in good shape to make a run for her first major victory. She lost in a playoff to Webb earlier this year.

11- Ai Miyazato is playing in the last group for the 3rd time this year. Her two previous experiences were not good ones. She has a big following in Japan, over 100 journalists have come to cover her play in the US. The pressure on Ai this year must be immense. A win would certainly relieve it some.

12- I’ll say something nice about The Golf Channel. With a Nationwide event rained out, the channel will extend their coverage today. Coming on the air at 2:30 p.m. Guess what I’ll be watching today?

Update- With 10 holes to play Webb and Peanut are tied for the lead. Eight golfers are one back including Annika and Se Ri. This could be one incredible finish.

2nd Update- It’s a playoff. Webb vs Pak. The comeback gals.


Annika Sorenstam misses first LPGA cut since 2002

The best female golfer in the world missed the cut yesterday at the Michelob Ultra Open.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Annika Sorenstam had two hours to wait after finishing play to see if the golf course that had frustrated her again would help keep her in the Michelob Ultra Open for the weekend by doing the same to others. “We’ll see. It’s a long day left,” she said.

Not long enough. With a second straight 2-over-par 73 Friday, the top player in women’s golf missed the cut for the first time since 2002. She finished in a tie for 72nd, with the top 71 players continuing into Saturday on the 6,306-yard layout.

Sorenstam had made 68 consecutive cuts before enduring a second straight day with a balky putter, even as playing partners Karrie Webb and Cristie Kerr did well.


For Sorenstam, who had finished no better than sixth in three prior appearances at the $2.2 million event, it marked only the second time in 143 events that she failed to make the cut, dating to June 1999, and the first time in 198 non-major events. The last time she missed the cut in a non-major was the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in July 1994.


Sorenstam had made 74 consecutive cuts before missing at the British Open in 2002, and said she knew it had been a long time, but only pays attention to victories.

That might serve as a warning to everyone else on tour. She followed that missed cut in 2002 with three consecutive victories, and had won 27 of 65 starts since.

Prior to this event there had been talk of a slump by Annika. It may be coming true. Then again look where Annika is on the money list. There are over 100 women on the LPGA who would be satisfied with that ranking and money total.

Is Annika having a slump? By the standard of her 2002-2005 play, yes she is. Then I feel fans and the golf media have set almost impossible expectations for Annika. Her previous track record in this tournament is unspectacular. A few other factors may be involved also. She is at the age even the best golfers start to decline, there is also alot of competition out there on the LPGA every week. Who knows maybe there are off the course considerations. Annika has a new love in her life. Maybe she’d like to have a family. This could be a distraction but a good one for the Super Swede.

Slump or no slump Annika is still formidable. I wouldn’t place wagers against her being number#1 on the money list at year’s end quite yet.

Personal note- This is my first post to OTB sports. I want to thank James Joyner for allowing me to be a contributor here. His OTB main blog is one of my favorites. I also have my own blog here. There I talk about golf, other sports, Florida matters and politics.

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