THE GOLF PAGE
STAR-BULLETIN / 1998
Annika Sorenstam was once a regular at the LPGA events in the islands, but it appears she'll miss the SBS Open for the second straight year.
SBS may be without 2 big stars
Neither Sorenstam nor Wie have signed to play at Turtle Bay
AS POPULAR as Michelle Wie is in her own back yard, not having Annika Sorenstam at the two upcoming LPGA events will be a real loss for Hawaii golf fans.
Sorenstam is not entered in the SBS Open at Turtle Bay or the inaugural Fields Open in Hawaii, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because, like Tiger Woods, Sorenstam is often a last-minute entry.
But word out of the Sorenstam camp is she will be in New York the week of the SBS Open, the first full-field event in 2006 for the women.
TEE IT UP
When: Feb. 16-18
Where: Arnold Palmer Course
Defending champion: Jennifer Rosales
TV: The Golf Channel
Sorenstam passed on this event last year and if she leaves her name off once again in two weeks, she would likely miss the new Fields Open the following week at Ko Olina.
And that's a shame, because Sorenstam was once a regular visitor at LPGA events held throughout the island chain. With little left to accomplish in a spectacular career, Sorenstam's focus is winning the Grand Slam. The first major is the Kraft Nabisco Championship, beginning the last week in March.
There are four LPGA Tour events -- the first two in Hawaii, another in Mexico and then the Safeway International in Arizona -- before the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California. Much like Woods, Sorenstam has a game plan that gives her the best chance of winning all four majors in a single season. And apparently, Hawaii might not fit into that formula, depriving local fans of seeing her in person against many of the tour's best.
WIE, PAULA CREAMER, Natalie Gulbis and Morgan Pressel are admittedly the future of women's golf. In her first year on tour, Creamer finished second on the money list to Sorenstam with $1.53 million in earnings by winning four events on three continents.
She gave the younger players behind her, particularly Wie and Pressel, a good idea of what it takes to be successful at the professional level.
Wie has already committed to the Fields Open -- played on her home course at Ko Olina -- but has still not signed on the dotted line for the SBS Open. On the surface, that seems a strange decision. Wie finished tied for second with Cristie Kerr at this tournament last year.
Granted, as a non-tour member, Wie can play in only so many events. It's understandable that the Wie team may prefer to put her in a prime-time event on the mainland this summer, as opposed to a tournament in Hawaii that won't command as bright a spotlight.
If you believe that Wie's early journey in professional golf is more about the process than winning, then perhaps skipping the SBS Open for a later event makes sense. But if Sorenstam decides to sit this one out, Wie has as good a chance as anyone to tame the Arnold Palmer-designed course.
For some, Wie's reluctance to embrace a trophy is reason enough to criticize her current career path. The risk-reward in trying to make a cut at a men's event has little down side. If she doesn't make it through to the weekend at a PGA Tour event -- and she hasn't in four tries -- it's not really a loss. And if she does, suddenly her name is next to the Babe's, which conjures up images best displayed in a Nike commercial.
Her approach to the LPGA has taken a similar path. When you play in all the major events, winning at that level makes a much bigger splash than mastering a tournament in the middle of the Pacific. Wie has always been more about skipping ahead to the spectacular rather than the mundane and that has served her well -- so far.
THERE IS ALSO the loyalty card to consider. The SBS Open gave Wie one of her free passes last year. The event is designed for live broadcast in South Korea, an important target audience for the Wie team; not to mention going face-to-face with Creamer, Pressel, 2006 U.S. Women's Open winner Birdie Kim and a field of other proven professionals.
Wie may have addressed that issue somewhat by entering another men's event -- this time the SK Telecom Open on the Asian Tour in South Korea, but that doesn't help the SBS Open.
It's bad enough Sorenstam will likely miss the SBS Open, but should Wie decide as well to sit this one out, it leaves a pair of big names off the marquee to start the season. And that's not good for the LPGA by any standard.
1. Chad Campbell $1,381,986
2. Stuart Appleby $1,282,428
3. David Toms $1,048,000
4. Tiger Woods $918,000
5. Vijay Singh $813,600
6. Nathan Green $652,800
7. Rory Sabbatini $628,866
8. Jim Furyk $578,950
1. Nathan Green 67.86
2. Vijay Singh 68.24
3. Chad Campbell 68.59
4. Loren Roberts 68.631
4. Adam Scott 68.631
6. David Toms 68.74
7. Tiger Woods 68.84
8. Jim Furyk 68.87
1. Bubba Watson 324.9
2. Adam Scott 317.9
3. J.B. Holmes 316.0
4. Camilo Villegas 310.9
5. Charles Warren 310.2
6. Robert Garrigus 308.6
7. Tiger Woods 306.3
7. Tag Ridings 306.3
1. Chad Campbell 224
2. Jesper Parnevik 301
3. John Huston 307
4. Bob Estes 310
5. Brandt Jobe 326
5. Rory Sabbatini 326
7. Scott Verplank 348
8. John Rollins 359
>> Feb. 16-18: SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Turtle Bay Resort (Palmer Course), Kahuku
» Feb. 23-25: Fields Open, Ko Olina GC, Kapolei
» March 10-12: MasterCard Classic, Bosque Real CC, Mexico City
» March 16-19: Safeway International, Superstition Mountain G&CC, Superstition Mountain, Ariz.
>> March 30-April 2: Kraft Nabisco Championship, Mission Hills CC (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.
» April 13-15: LPGA Takefuji Classic, The Las Vegas CC, Las Vegas
» April 20-23: Atlanta Charity Championship, Eagle's Landing CC, Stockbridge, Ga.
» April 27-30: Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open, Reunion Resort & Club, Orlando, Fla.
>> May 4-7: Franklin American Mortgage Championship, Vanderbilt Legends Club (Iron Horse Course), Franklin, Tenn.
» May 11-14: Michelob ULTRA Open, Kingsmill Resort & Spa, Williamsburg, Va.
>> May 18-21: Sybase Classic, Wykagyl CC, New Rochelle, N.Y.
» May 25-28: LPGA Corning Classic, Corning CC, Corning, N.Y.
» June 2-4: ShopRite LPGA Classic, Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa (Bay Course), Galloway Township, N.J.
>> June 8-11: McDonald's LPGA Championship, Bulle Rock GC, Havre de Grace, Md.
» June 22-25: Wegmans LPGA, Locust Hill CC, Pittsford, N.Y.
>> June 29-July 2: U.S. Women's Open, Newport CC, Newport, R.I.
>> July 6-9: HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, Hamilton Farm GC, Gladstone, N.J.
» July 13-16: Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, Highland Meadows GC, Sylvania, Ohio
» July 26-29: Evian Masters, Evian Masters GC, Evian-les-Bains, France
>> Aug. 3-6: Weetabix Women's British Open, Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Lytham St. Annes, England
» Aug. 10-13: CN Canadian Women's Open, London Hunt and CC, London, Ontario
» Aug. 18-20: Safeway Classic, Columbia Edgewater CC, Portland, Ore.
>> Aug. 24-27: Wendy's Championship for Children, Tartan Fields GC, Dublin, Ohio
» Aug. 31-Sept. 3: State Farm Classic, The Rail GC, Springfield, Ill.
» Sept. 8-10: John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic, Cedar Ridge CC, Broken Arrow, Okla.
LINK UP IN HAWAII
» 5-6: Champions Skins Game, Wailea Golf Resort Gold Course. 875-7450.
» 7: Hawaii Pearl Open, Tuesday qualifier, Pearl Country Club. 487-3802.
» 10-12: Hawaii Pearl Open Championship, Pearl Country Club. 487-3802.
» 16-18: LPGA SBS Classic, Turtle Bay Palmer Course. 293-8574.
Send aces to email@example.com or call 529-4785
|Frank Pires Jr.
||Hawaii Country Club