Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Annika's Run

I’ll go on record right now and say that Annika’s current run will be more impressive that Tiger’s run from 2000 through 2001. Not only that, I think that Annika will be able to sustain her run longer than Tiger did. If you look purely at the numbers, there was about a 24 month stretch where in 39 tournaments Tiger won 4 majors (out of 8 including the Tiger Slam), 10 other titles, finished in the top 10 another 12 times and never finished worse than T29. He also won six consecutive starts and set several scoring records in majors. Since the start of 2004, Annika, in 26 starts, has won 14 times, finished 2nd 5 times, finished top 10 another 4 times and finished no worse than T13. And let us not forget that she has won 3 of the last 6 majors. In both cases, they were chasing record books. Tiger was after Nicklaus’s 18 majors and Annika is chasing Kathy Whitworth’s 88 career titles.

The difference is that Annika has another level of golf to stride towards. When Tiger reached the top, it was at the top of the ultimate tour. There was nothing great for him to look towards. Annika has dominated the LPGA but she will always have the guys on the PGA Tour to chase. I’m not necessarily talking about playing on Tour, but just learning the game from them. It’s clear that the men and women play different games. The men play long, hard golf courses that require the players to hit every shot, especially the around the greens. The women tend to play shorter courses with greens that are softer and flatter. Last year Annika realized this. She bulked up (started a couple years ago) to add distance and she started playing with Tiger and other PGA Tour players in her off weeks. She learned how to hit every shot. Shots that she may never need to hit in an LPGA Tour event. Now she leads in driving distance at 274 yards (2nd is 268 yards), G.I.R. at 75.3% (2nd at 71.9%), rounds under par at 86.7% (2nd is 65.6%) and scoring average at 68.60 (2nd at 70.65). She is also 2nd in putts per G.I.R. at 1.72 and 8th in putts per round at 28.70 Yes, Tiger had similar dominating stats in 2000-2001, but he had no one to stride for, at least not anyone who was still playing. Whenever Annika needs a challenge, she can call her PGA buddies in Orlando, step back to 7,000 yards and get after it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we are still talking about her run well into 2007.

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