WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Annika Sorenstam arrived at the first tee, shook a few hands and got a kiss on the cheek from Donald Trump on Thursday.
Then the former University of Arizona star turned to the gallery and waved.
On Friday, unless she moves a bit up the leader board, she’ll be waving goodbye.
Sorenstam shot a 2-over par 74 in the opening round of the ADT Championship, good for a tie for 23rd in the 32-woman event, her final LPGA Tour appearance before “stepping away” from competitive golf. The field gets trimmed to 16 after Friday’s play, meaning she has some work left just to reach the weekend.
Otherwise, her LPGA Tour career will come to an unceremonious end.
“I was a little nervous. I feel like I’m playing good. I’m excited about the week,” Sorenstam said. “But I’m telling you, nothing went my way today.”
She is six strokes behind leader Katherine Hull (68), who finished one shot better than Ji-Yai Shin and In-Kyung Kim.
Oddly, little attention was paid to the top of the leader board. Most of the star power was off the first page. World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, a former UA player and the defending champ, was 6 over in one rough eight-hole stretch and is tied for 26th after a 75.
Hayes DQ’s himself
The moment J.P. Hayes looked down at the ball on the floor in his hotel room, he knew there were only two options.
Keep his mouth shut that it was a prototype not approved for Tour play and his chances of playing full time on the PGA Tour next season would stay alive. Or pick up the phone and disqualify himself. He did the latter.
Ten days later, the only thing that seems remarkable to Hayes about that decision is the stir it created. He said he was only doing what any golfer would, although in Hayes’ case, totaling up the cost probably will require six figures.
“It’s blown me away,” Hayes said Thursday about the reaction. “I certainly don’t want to be made out as a hero. I’m just a player that did the right thing. If it’s served to remind people what a good game we’ve got, that’s great. But I’ve moved on.”
Hayes was on the tee at the par-3 12th hole in the first round of the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament when his caddie flipped him the fateful golf ball.
He missed the green, chipped on, marked his ball and then realized it wasn’t the one he’d started the day with. Hayes called over an official and took a two-shot penalty, then went back to playing his original ball on the next tee and finished the round with a 74. He shot 71 the next day, leaving him with a chance of moving on to final stage of Q-School, from where the top 25 finishers and ties graduate to exempt status on the PGA Tour for 2009.
“We don’t have refs on the course, so we have to call penalties on ourselves. I’ve done it before, dozens of guys have,” Hayes said.
Daly trails by 4 shots
HONG KONG – John Daly put himself within four strokes of leaders Liang Wenchong of China and South African Richard Sterne, who both shot a 6-under 64 in the first round of the $2.5 million Hong Kong Open.