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Golf notebook: New college golf award named after Annika Sorenstam

The SportsXchange

The Haskins Commission and the Annika Foundation announced that the top player in NCAA Division I women's golf will receive the Annika Award beginning next year.

The new award is named for Annika Sorenstam, who was an All-American at the University of Arizona before going on to an LPGA Tour career that put her in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

"I'm thrilled to be able to have my name on this," Sorenstam said.

Winners of the Annika Award will receive an exemption into the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA Tour major of the season.

The Haskins Commission has presented the Haskins Award to the top male college golfer for 41 years. That award honors the memory of Fred Haskins, a teaching pro devoted to amateur golf.

In addition, Sorenstam announced plans to team with Golfweek magazine and host a women's college tournament that will begin play next year in the Orlando, Fla., area, where she lives.

"College golf meant a lot to me and helped get my career going in the right direction, and my foundation provides playing opportunities globally to juniors who are passionate about the game," said the most famous and accomplished Swedish golfer.

"Therefore, creating a first-class invitational tournament for the best women's teams to kick off the college golf season is a natural progression."

Sorenstam won seven titles while at Arizona, including the NCAA championship as a freshman in 1991, when she shared NCAA Player of the Year honors with Kelly Robbins of Tulsa.

--Teen sensation Lydia Ko was playing in her first Kraft Nabisco Championship last week, so perhaps her family figured she needed a little extra protection to deal with the crowds.

So the Ko family hired a new caddie, Patrick Boyd, who is a residential and commercial security expert for his family's security company, Boyd and Associations of Los Angeles.

"He told me he is the best caddie," the 15-year-old Ko joked.

Actually, Boyd caddied on the LPGA, PGA and Korean tours before joining the family security business.

Boyd was hired by the Ko family through Bobea Park, family friend and a former LPGA Tour pro for whom Boyd once caddied. Park knows the Ko family.

"She's got a fantastic attitude and she's so comfortable," Boyd said. "This is a big event; this is the Kraft Nabisco, a major. It doesn't even faze her. She is so comfortable being here."

Ko, the top-ranked amateur in the world, last year became the youngest golfer to win a professional event when she captured the Women's New South Wales Open, and later in the year became the youngest to win an LPGA Tour event when she claimed the Women's CN Canadian Open title.

She finished in a tie for 25th in the Kraft Nabisco.

--Hideki Matsuyama, the top-ranked amateur in Japan, won't be playing in the Masters for the third consecutive time this week, but the next time he makes it to Augusta National it will be as a professional.

The 21-year-old Matsuyama announced that he will make his professional debut on April 18-21 in the Token Homemate Cup, a Japan Golf Tour event, at Token Tado Country Club in Nagoya.

"I had many top-10 finishes last year in professional competitions, and this gave me the confidence that I can make it," said Matsuyama, who captured the Asian Amateur Championship 2010 and 2011.

"I want to become a player who can win around the world."

Matsuyama tied for 27th to earn low amateur honors in the 2011 Masters and returned last year to finish in a tie for 54th.

In 2011, he became the third amateur to win on the Japan Golf Tour when he captured the Taiheiyo Masters.

Even though he will miss the Masters, Matsuyama will play in his third major this year, the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfeld, Scotland, in July having earned a spot in the field in Asian qualifying last month.

--Marcel Siem of Germany thought for a while that his victory in the Troph'ee Hassan II on the European Tour two weeks ago might get him into the Masters for the first time.

Instead, he had to settle for a consolation prize, a sponsors exemption into the Valero Texas Open last week, which gave him one more longshot chance to make it to Augusta National this year.

"It's been my dream since I was a kid, so if that comes true it will be unbelievable," Siem said after winning in Morocco. "It would be wonderful to play the Masters.

"I just want to be on that ground. I'm not going to cry, but it would be very emotional. I remember as a kid watching Bernhard Langer (also of Germany) winning it. I also loved Greg Norman and remember how unlucky he was there."

Siem, who was No. 72 in the World Golf Rankings before his third victory on the European Tour, was projected at 49th after winning, with the top 50 earning spots in the first major of the year.

However, he had to wait until the Shell Houston Open finished several hours later in the United States to see if he would hold a spot in the top 50.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden tied for second in Houston and vaulted 11 spots to No. 42, and Russell Henley closed with a 4-under-par 68 finish in a tie for 45th that left in at No. 50, 0.3 points ahead of Siem.

Henley, a rookie on the PGA Tour, already had qualified for the Masters by winning the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier in the season.

That left Siem with the slim chance to win in San Antonio to qualify for the Masters, and after making the long flight from Morocco, he stumbled to a 4-over-par 76 in the first round of TPC.

However, Siem made a strong run from there by shooting 67-69-69, and was within one stroke of the lead before a triple-bogey 7 on the 12th hole of the final round and he wound up in a tie for 10th.

--Asia is the fastest growing golf market in the world and Jeev Milkha Singh of India believes that growth is being stunted by the feud between the two primary golf tours in the region.

For the second time this year, the rival tours went head-to-head two weeks ago, when Scott Hend of Australia captured the Asian Tour's inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand, while Choi Ho-sung of South Korea won the Indonesia PGA Championship on the OneAsia circuit.

"I just hope that compromise takes place for the betterment of the game in the region," said Singh, who twice has finished the season as the No. 1-ranked golfer in Asia and last week was No. 111 in the World Golf Rankings.

"Because Asia is the market, I just feel that this is where golf is going to grow and get really big. Asian Tour has been there for so many years. OneAsia just started. So the loyalty obviously stays with the Asian Tour. Asian Tour has given us a lot.

"Our job as players is to go out and make the most of it by playing."

Despite his loyalties to the Asian Tour, on which he has claimed six victories, Singh said he hoped both sides would work toward a truce.

The 41-year-old Singh has claimed 21 titles in his professional career, including four on the European Tour, has played in 13 majors and posted his best finish by tying for ninth in the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

Singh attended Abilene Christian University in Texas and captured the NCAA Division II individual title in 1993.

--Phil Mickelson had two drivers in his bag when he won the 2006 Masters and has done the same at other times in his career, but this is a first for Jim Furyk.

Furyk used two drivers, the 9.5-degree and 10.5-degree versions of the Callaway RAZR Fit driver, in the first round of the Valero Texas Open last week and plans to take both to Augusta National.

"At my length, there are a few holes that pose an issue for me at Augusta," said Furyk, who claimed his only major championship in the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.

"There are a few drives that have always been a thorn in my side at that course, and in the back of my mind I've always been trying to figure out a way."

Furyk used the 9.5-degree driver only once in round one at TPC San Antonio, and "hit it awful," as it went way left. But that doesn't mean he has given up on the club.

Because he also was struggling on the range with the club, Furyk said he would "retool" the 9.5-degree club on the range and reevaluate. He said he definitely will have both clubs in his bag for practice rounds this week at Augusta before making a final decision about whether he will use both in the tournament.

"Right now, I'm not sure that I'm flying it that much further," said Furyk, who tied for third in San Antonio. "But when the 9.5 hits, it's got a lot more chase. The goal would be, if I could carry it farther, that would be good for Augusta."

Furyk said he could potentially use the 9.5-degree driver on the third hole at Augusta to cover the bunkers if the hole location is in the back; on the eighth, to go for the green in two if it is playing downwind; at the ninth, to give him more chase down the hill; at the 14th, to possibly get over the hill in the fairway, and at No. 15, to give himself a chance to reach the green in two.

And, most notably, the par-4 17th, which has always given him trouble.

"I hit that (Eisenhower) tree at least twice every year," Furyk said. "Right now I want to find something that I can airmail that thing with."

With two drivers in his bag, Furyk would play with three wedges rather than his customary four, because he usually doesn't hit as many wedge shots at Augusta.
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