Tags: annika | sorenstam

Golf Talk: Swedes Rule For a Day

Friday, 29 Aug 2008 01:49 PM

By Anthony Pioppi

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• Swedes Rule For a Day

• Tseng Folds, Hull Wins

• Wie Still Undecided

• Els Focused on FedEx

• Phil Fires 'Em Up

• Clarke Earns His Stripes

• Lee Eclipses Tiger's Record

• Kerr Keeps a Perspective

Swedes Rule For a Day

It was a big week for Swedish golf recently and, surprisingly, it had nothing to do with Annika Sorenstam.

Peter Hanson shot 1-over-par 71 in cold, windy, and wet conditions to win the European PGA Tour's SAS Masters for his second career European PGA Tour victory.

Hanson and Jesper Parnevik are now the only Swedes to take home the title, played over the Arlandastad course north of Stockholm.

Fellow countryman Pelle Edberg, who was paired with Hanson in the final group, tied for second with Nick Doughtery of England.

"Hopefully, this will mean a lot for Swedish golf. For me, it has been difficult to get that second title. It's been a long wait," Hanson said.

A few hours later, Swede Carl Pettersson — who moved to Greensboro, N.C. as a teen, played at N.C. State, and lives a 90-minute drive away in Raleigh from the Wyndham Championship — won that event with a two-shot victory over Scott McCarron.

Pettersson is on the board of directors of the championship and was all for the tournament's move to Sedgefield Country Club, a Donald Ross classic design, figuring the traditional layout would attract more quality players.

Angered by a bogey on the 11th hole that briefly dropped him into second place, Pettersson came back with three birdies over the next four holes to seal up his third PGA Tour title.

"Not getting it up and down on 11 kind of (ticked) me off. "I kind of told myself, 'I'm letting the tournament get away from me again. That was where the tournament was won for me," Pettersson said.

Tseng Folds, Hull Wins

Yani Tseng, 19, who won the McDonald's LPGA Championship earlier in the year, melted down in the final round of the Canadian Women's Open.

Katherine Hull took advantage of Tseng's situation and went on to win her first LPGA title.

The 26-year-old Australian started the final day six strokes behind Tseng, then shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 11-under 277.

Se Ri Pak shot 72 to finish second, while Tseng's 77 left her two strokes behind at nine-under.

"This is something we all dream about as kids, and to have it actually happen is amazing," Hull said.

"I was thinking this might be the year I broke through and got a win."

Tseng refused to talk to the press after the round, but Pak, a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame, did, offering Tseng some advice.

"That will happen, not only to her," Pak said.

"It's happened to me and whoever. In golf, there are no guarantees. You're leading by seven strokes, five strokes, it doesn't matter. She played well, and I know she was expecting a great situation. But she's 19-years-old. This will probably be a great experience for her."

Wie Still Undecided

Michelle Wie, using the last of her six LPGA Tour exemptions this year, tied for 12th at the Canadian Women's Open, which means she has to go back to Q School if she intends to play full-time on the LPGA tour in 2009.

But Wie hasn't decided on her plans.

Tour player Alena Sharp said Wie needs some breathing room when it comes to her parents.

"I think she's a great kid. People don't realize it's hard when your parents are with you all the time. She's going to be a really good player once she figures out what she needs to do for herself," Sharp said.

In 2007, Sharp was paired with Wie in the controversial round at the Ginn Tribute. Wie was two bogeys away from shooting 88 when she withdrew after 16 holes, citing a sore wrist and flirting with "Rule 88," which states any non-LPGA player who shoots 88 is banned from the tour for the rest of the year.

Sharp told Golf Digest after the round: "I think she withdrew because of the high score, definitely," and added Wie didn't show any signs during the round that her wrist hurt.

Wie made the cut in four of seven LPGA events this year earning $62,763 dollars, which would have been good for 114th on the money list.

Els Focused on FedEx

Ernie Els is making the FedEx Cup a priority this year when it begins at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.

"To be honest, I felt like last year's FedEx Cup came and went without me making much of an impression on things. Obviously, I'm very keen to do a lot better this time around," he wrote on his Web site.

"I certainly like the revised schedule, giving the players a break between the penultimate event, the BMW Championship, and the Tour Championship. That's a welcome respite, especially for those of us who are not involved in the Ryder Cup at Valhalla. It's a two-week break for us guys, and for me personally that's no bad thing."

Even though he finished tied for fourth at last year's Barclay's when it was held at Westchester Country Club in N.Y., Els wrote he is looking forward to Ridgewood.

"I haven't played here, but I've seen some photographs of the course, and I like the look of it. I've also heard some positive comments from a few guys who have played it and clearly it's a wonderful golf course."

Els said the course is an A.W. Tillinghast design and apparently has a similar look and feel to golf courses such as Baltusrol and Winged Foot.

"They are two of my favorite golf courses in America, so I think I'm going to like Ridgewood," he said.

Phil Fires 'Em Up

It looks as if Phil Mickelson is ramping up the intensity of the Ryder Cup, at least according to Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who already is a lock for the European team.

McDowell told the Irish Independent newspaper that at a recent tournament Mickelson tried to intimidate him by suggesting that the golf fans at Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, site of the biannual match, will have no regard for golf decorum or Europeans.

"They're going to be noisy. And do you know what? We're going to be egging them on," McDowell said Mickelson told him.

During their time together while paired at the PGA Championship, McDowell said Mickelson told him: "These guys (Valhalla galleries) won't be golf fans. These guys are NASCAR fans. They're going to be drinking beer."

McDowell brushed aside the idea Mickelson was just chatting.

"I played with Phil before a couple of times and found he wasn't a chatty guy on the golf course. In fact, he's pretty quiet. Which made this the most prolonged conversation I've ever had with the guy," he said.

Clarke Earns His Stripes

Darren Clarke is doing everything he can to make his way onto the European Ryder Cup team, thanks in large part to his recent convincing victory at the KLM Open at Kennemer Golf and Country Club outside of Amsterdam.

It was Clarke's second title this season. Finishing second was Paul McGinley, who played with Clarke for Europe in the last three matches.

Clarke, of Northern Ireland, shot a final-round 66 for the four-stroke victory.

He cannot play his way into an automatic Ryder Cup spot, but he surely makes himself an enticing pick to team captain Nick Faldo.

"It's nice to win knowing that I had to play well and then actually doing it," Clark said.

"I had two weeks to try to impress Nick. The first is out of the way, and I seem to have done that. I don't know if I have done enough, but I'm going to Gleneagles (for the Johnnie Walker Championship) in better shape and hopefully he will take notice."

Lee Eclipses Tiger's Record

The No. 2 Course at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina has a distinctive New Zealand feel to it since Danny Lee captured the U.S. Amateur Championship.

The 18-year old Lee, who is six months and 29 days younger than Tiger Woods, became the youngest player to win the championship, eclipsing Woods' mark by five months.

Lee was also the 2007 New Zealand Amateur champion.

It was at the same course in 2005 that Lee's countryman Michael Campbell took home the U.S. Open.

"I think this golf course likes New Zealand people.That's why I have played so well this week," Lee says.

Lee moved to New Zealand with his family from Korea nine years ago. He has been playing golf since the age of eight, practicing 40 hours a week.

Lee now can copy Campbell's triumph. His victory automatically gets Lee into the U.S. Open and the Open Championship and a possible invitation to the Masters.

"I can't wait to get to next year," Lee says. "I'm so ready to play in those great events."

At the U.S. Open, the traditional pairing for the first two rounds puts the Amateur Champion with the defending U.S. Open winner. In this case, that is Tiger Woods.

Kerr Keeps a Perspective

Cristie Kerr was having one heck of a year but was getting comfortable with the fact she might not make the trip to the winner's circle. That is until the Safeway Classic.

Kerr fired a tournament-best 65 in the final round. Then she dropped a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole and defeated Swedes Helen Alfredsson and Sophie Gustafson.

Kerr's last victory was the 2007 U.S. Women's Open. So far in 2008, she's had seven top-10 finishes.

"I've put so much work into my game this year," Kerr said.

"I've put a lot of work into the mental side of it to be able to contend more often and to give myself every opportunity to not get in my own way," she said.

"It definitely puts things in perspective because you can put too much emphasis on results and, 'Oh, I have to do this, and I have to do that.' Instead, my approach now is to focus on the process I have to go through. The results will take care of themselves."

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