Notebook: Stats tell story of Sorenstam

Associated Press
Monday, April 2

When Annika Sorenstam won the Nabisco Championships for her third straight victory -- and first major in five years -- she said it was a dream come true.

World Rankings
  Tiger Woods built on his lead and Vijay Singh moved up three spots with their efforts at Sawgrass. Here are the latest World Rankings:
Player Points
1. Tiger Woods 28.78
2. Phil Mickelson 12.38
3. Ernie Els 10.95
4. Lee Westwood 8.97
5. Vijay Singh 8.86
6. Colin Montgomerie 8.47
7. Davis Love III 8.33
8. David Duval 8.25
9. Hal Sutton 6.61
10. Darren Clarke 6.60
11. Jesper Parnevik 6.34
12. Tom Lehman 6.25
13. Nick Price 6.15
14. Jim Furyk 6.14
15. Thomas Bjorn 5.93
16. Sergio Garcia 5.80
17. Mike Weir 5.74
18. Michael Campbell 5.40
19. Padraig Harrington 5.38
20. Stewart Cink 5.15
21. Mark Calcavecchia 5.01
22. David Toms 4.63
23. Loren Roberts 4.58
24. Robert Allenby 4.52
25. John Huston 4.50
26. Justin Leonard 4.45
27. Bob May 4.41
28. Pierre Fulke 4.38
29. Chris Perry 4.38
30. Carlos Franco 4.15
31. Rocco Mediate 4.05
32. Paul Azinger 4.03
33. Miguel Angel Jimenez 3.98
34. Notah Begay III 3.96
35. Retief Goosen 3.87
36. Jose Maria Olazabal 3.83
37. Stuart Appleby 3.79
38. Brad Faxon 3.74
39. Scott Verplank 3.65
40. Duffy Waldorf 3.58
41. Greg Norman 3.56
42. Angel Cabrera 3.52
43. Dennis Paulson 3.49
44. Eduardo Romero 3.36
45. Steve Stricker 3.30
46. Kirk Triplett 3.28
47. Toshi Izawa 3.24
48. Shingo Katayama 3.23
49. Jose Coceres 3.22
50. Scott Hoch 3.17

"I really don't know why all this is happening to me," she said.

Statistics tell the story.

Sorenstam has not finished worse than second all year. She has hit 88 percent of her fairways and an astounding 84 percent of greens. Tiger Woods hit 75 percent of his greens in regulation last year.

The best statistic? Her scoring average of 68.17 is 1.04 strokes ahead of second-place Se Ri Pak.

Seeing things clearly
Much has been made about Vijay Singh's improved putting with the mid-length shaft that sticks into his belly. He was 99th in putting last year, and now is in the top 10 for putts per hole.

A bigger factor might be the Lasik surgery he had done on his eyes last year. Singh noticed the difference during a recent practice round at Augusta National.

"My glasses were tinted," he said. "I didn't really notice all the details of the green. I read the greens a little bit differently."

Singh says a good stroke is important, but he puts more stock in where the ball is aimed.

"If you have the best stroke and the best speed and you don't read the greens well, you're not going to make a putt," Singh said. "With my eyes changing, I'm lining the ball up differently. They're all a combination of me putting well."

That's not a bad combination to have going into The Masters.

Amateur hour
James Driscoll, the runner-up to Jeff Quinney in the U.S. Amateur, had planned to turned pro but decided to wait until after he played in The Masters.

Now, Driscoll will wait a little longer.

His goal after Augusta is to make the U.S. team for the Walker Cup, to be played in August at Sea Island, Ga., then play the U.S. Amateur at East Lake in Atlanta.

Driscoll has played in one PGA Tour event on a sponsor's exemption, missing the cut at Doral.

A novel idea
Sleeping Bear Press keeps finding unlikely sources for compelling golf novels -- first a lawyer from Louisiana, now a doctor from Oklahoma City.

A year ago, Sleeping Bear released "The Greatest Player Who Never Lived," a story about a promising player wrongly accused of murder who continues to play under a variety of aliases in matches arranged by Bobby Jones.

Next up is "Flatbellies," to be released later this week.

The novel is from Alan Hollingsworth, an Oklahoma City doctor who specializes in breast cancer. He was sitting through his godson's graduation ceremony when he started reminiscing about his own youth, the relationships he made and the powerful role golf played in bringing together so many different backgrounds.

It took him about four years of weekends and vacation time to finish "Flatbellies," a fast-moving account of life and golf in small-town Oklahoma.

It begins with five boys who take part in a summer golf program in 1961, and traces their lives through high school as they try to win the first state golf championship for their tiny town of El Viento.

The characters include Chipper, who can get up-and-down from anywhere using his 7-iron; Jay, his best friend and the best golfer of the bunch; L.K., the star athlete at El Viento; and Peachy, a mouthy kid from a disreputable background with an unorthodox swing.

Hollingsworth didn't just make them up.

"I played in high school, from which these stories were amalgamated," Hollingsworth said. "Most of it has a basis, with fiction woven through it."

Hollingsworth says he hasn't even hit a range ball in close to 10 years. But his memories of the game are vivid, and they serve as the backdrop in the coming-of-age novel that "Flatbellies" represents.

"We were good, but not that good," he said of his school team at El Reno, Okla. "We took fifth in state. That's where they fiction comes in."

  • PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has lost his share of golf balls in the water on the 17th at the Stadium Course. He also has a rare par. "One time I hit in the water, teed up again and hit it in the hole. That was interesting," he said.

  • Saujana Golf & Country Club in Malaysia will hold the World Amateur Team Championships in October 2002.

  • Aree Wongluekiet has won the Nancy Lopez Award as the world's top female amateur. Along with winning several junior titles, she played in the final group of the Nabisco Championship last year and tied for 10th.

  • John Hopkins from The Times of London, describing the 60-foot putt Woods made on the island-green 17th: "Woods' putt resembled a train traveling from London to Bristol via Birmingham and Bournemouth."

    They said it
    "Me and the fellow that's three behind me." -- Colin Montgomerie, when asked whom he would pick to play with in a final pairing.