Steinhauer led wire to wire and shot a 17-under 271 to win the LPGA State Farm
Classic, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any drama. Steinhauer was pursued
for most of the week by Annika Sorenstam, the former world No. 1 who won at
least two events every year from 1995 through 2006. But Sorenstam is winless
thus far in '07 and has fallen to No. 3 as Lorena Ochoa, who sat out last
week after winning three events in a row, has taken over the role of dominant
champion. If Sorenstam could've caught Steinhauer, it would have added some
juice to the end of the season and set up a great showdown with Ochoa when she
and Sorenstam next face off (most likely at the Long Drugs Challenge, Oct.
4-7). Still, Sorenstam's tie for third was her third top six of the year
and a sign that she may be regaining her form. For the week her driving
distance, greens and fairways hit, and putting stats were well above her season
average. Even if Annika doesn't get an '07 victory, she's had a great year off
the course--opening a golf academy, rolling out a line of clothing and last
week announcing her engagement to Mike McGee.
• Scott Verplank
stood 15th in the FedEx Cup standings when he pulled out of the Deutsche Bank
Championship, almost certainly forfeiting any chance he had to win the cup, but
his withdrawal was understandable. Verplank, who is 43 and has battled injuries
most of his career, said he didn't think his body could stand up to four
straight weeks of competition. But there may have been other forces at play.
Last Saturday the Oklahoma State alum attended the Cowboys' opener at Georgia,
where he told The Augusta Chronicle, "I felt comfortable in the standings
to take the week off." Comfortable enough for what? The Tour estimates that
anyone outside the top 15 has only a remote chance of winning the FedEx Cup,
and in all its computer models no one ranked lower than 13th at the start took
the grand prize. Verplank couldn't have felt comfortable about his chances to
win it all. More likely he felt sure he'd still qualify for the no-cut Tour
Championship in Atlanta (Sept. 13-16), where 30 players will split $7 million.
Maybe if he weren't guaranteed so much cash, Verplank would find the PGA Tour
more interesting than the SEC.
Langer's Champions tour debut worked out O.K., as he tied for 10th
(69-70-71-210) at the Wal-Mart First Tee Open. But Langer might have to rethink
his approach. Before the event he said he was looking forward to having fun and
not being outdriven by 40 yards. During the opening round two players shot
65s, which sounds pretty serious, and for the week Langer finished 31st in
driving distance, averaging almost 15 yards less than the longest hitters.
• The USGA and the
R&A approved an amendment to the Rules of Golf that allows for increased
adjustability of clubs, although they continue to forbid any changes during a