A Wonderful Day
I was ambivalent towards yesterday when the two terrorists woke me up at o' dark thirty. Sunday morning/middle of the night, is not exactly filled with tons of things to do. TV is overloaded with informercials or reruns. Even the Olympics puts their terrible sports on during the early morning hours, so nothing there to see.
You can only play so much cards on the computer before getting bored, and once you've read the news highlights, that takes care of that option. I tried napping but the beasts were not going to be deterred from keeping me up so now what?
I somehow managed to hang on until the final round of the U.S. Senior Women's Open came on to finally give me something worth watching. I was not surprised to see that my all time favorite golfer was leading after three rounds.
Annika Sorenstam was, and is, the greatest golfer of all time. We could argue for days about this and in the end you would still all be wrong and I would still be correct. I would politely point out that there were some other great golfers indeed.
Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, and Tiger Woods, on the men's side, certainly could have cases made for their achievements. You would also be able to make cases for Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias on the ladies side. Two of the most popular golfers of all time were Arnold Palmer and Nancy Lopez who also had fabulous careers.
Here is the thing though, the only one that comes kind of close to being on the level of Annika is Jack. When Jack was on his game, he would show up to a tournament and the other players would start talking about who would finish second that week. The same with Annika. The difference is, that Jack had many off weeks and years, Annika didn't.
Here is a stat that will blow you away. She finished in the top three in 46 percent of her events she entered. For her career, not for a year, or a month, but her career. Oh, and she finished in the top ten in 68% of her events. She entered 308 events and missed the cut in only ten of them. In 2005, she won 10 of the 20 events she entered.
I could go on but you get the point. Her total dominance of the golfing world is indisputable and unmatched. What she did Sunday, after not playing competitive golf for more than 12 years, sums up her career.
Even though she hasn't played a competitive round forever, she was expected to win the U.S. Senior Women's Open this past week. Would anyone else have that expectation on them? I think not. Yet she goes out and does just that, and not just wins, but destroys the field.
Only five players finished under par. Annika won at twelve under. If you add the scores, under par, of the other four, it equals only eleven under, so she actually won with a lower score then the other four combined. Crazy.
What makes her the best is what she did Sunday to win. Liselotte Neuman eagled the first hole to tie Annika. Annika then made her birdie putt to regain the lead by one stroke. For the next seventeen holes Annika beat back everybody to win by eight shots. This is what she did each week when she played full time.
Being able to close out tournaments is an art, and involves great skill, and a strong mind. How many weeks do we see a leader fritter away a big lead? Sometimes they hang on to win, many times they end up losing. When she has the lead the tournament is over. As the great Laura Davies said Sunday, "when I saw her score on Thursday I knew we were in trouble."
I have chronicled my path crossings with her in a previous column, so I won't bore you again here, but not only is she the greatest golfer of all time, but she is the nicest person you will ever meet. I would defy you to find one person that will say anything bad about her. While she has walked away from competitive golf, she is still very active in the golfing world.
Her foundation helps young people get started golfing. She is involved with the Olympics golf movement. She still gets involved with the Solheim Cup, and has been a captain for team Europe. Many current LPGA players go to her for advice on golf and life.
So while it was exciting, and emotional, for me to see her play, and win again, it was even more inspiring for me to see her enjoy the moment in her favorite role. Mother and wife.