Sorenstam Back with the Boys

By Associated PressNovember 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 Merrill Lynch Skins GameLA QUINTA, Calif. - Annika Sorenstam is mixing it up with the men again, and this time the competition includes Tiger Woods. Sorenstam and Woods will play against each other for the first time when they tee off Saturday in the Skins Game at the Trilogy Golf Club in the middle of the desert.
Woods, who has a miserable Skins Game record, wasn't in the foursome last year when Sorenstam made a sensational debut by winning five skins and $225,000. She finished second to Fred Couples, who rounds out the field with Aussie Adam Scott.
'I've been fortunate to practice with Tiger a few times,' Sorenstam said Friday. 'He's taught me a few shots, and hopefully I can give it back to him this week. I've got one of his wedges and it's working better than ever, so we'll see what happens.'
Woods gave Sorenstam that club in the spring of 2003.
'I've got a driver out in the trunk,' Woods joked.
Even though the men had more power off the tee, Sorenstam, the first woman to compete in the Skins Game, held her own last year at the same course.
The LPGA star made one of the most spectacular shots in Skins Game history, a 39-yard bunker shot for eagle on the par-5, 524-yard ninth hole to win four skins and $175,000 to take the first-day lead.
'I have to play my best to have a chance to win some skins,' said Sorenstam, who already is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. 'That's what happened last year. I holed a shot, really, from an unpredictable place, and that's what makes you win skins.'
Sorenstam earned a great deal of respect with her finish here last year. Six months earlier, she became the first woman to compete in a PGA event in 58 years at the Colonial, but missed the cut.
Woods, who lost the No. 1 ranking in the world earlier this year to Vijay Singh, would be happy just to win some skins.
Sorenstam won as much money last year as Woods has in his four previous appearances in the Merrill Lynch Skins Game. He's won only nine skins total.
'This format is all about timing, and hopefully I can do a little better in this one,' Woods said. 'I'll never forget my first one. I shot a 31 on the front nine and didn't get any skins.
'That was a lot of fun,' he said facetiously.
Woods won his first stroke-play tournament in more than a year Sunday, capturing the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan by eight strokes after closing with a 3-under 67.
'I played really well in Japan,' he said. 'I hit a lot of good shots and putted very well, so I'm very excited about the things I've been working on. They're starting to come together now.'
Sorenstam played in only 18 tournaments on the LPGA Tour this year, but won eight of them.
She'd love to win the Skins Game.
'It would mean I'd be invited back,' she said. 'That would obviously be awesome. Last year was not a total surprise to me, but I was very psyched about winning one skin and I wound up winning more.
'So for me, it is a bonus. I mean, I am thrilled to be back and have a chance to play with the guys. With this format, every hole is like a new match.'
Holes one through six are worth $25,000 each; Nos. 7-12, $50,000 apiece; 13 through 17, $70,000 each; and the 18th is a 'Super Skin' worth $200,000. If no one wins a skin on a hole, the money is added to the following hole. Each player will give 20 percent of his or her earnings to charity.
The first nine holes will be played Saturday and the final nine Sunday at the par-72, 7,038-yard Trilogy.
Couples will be playing in his 11th Skins Game. A four-time winner, he's pocketed a record $2,875,000 and won 66 skins.
'Golf is all about opportunity and this is about as opportunistic as it gets,' said Couples, who won $605,000 last year. 'I've got the flair for hitting a good shot and I've got a superior flair for hitting some wild ones, too.'
Scott, 24, is ranked 11th in the world. He has three career PGA Tour victories, including The Players Championship in March, when he became the youngest champion in golf's richest tournament.
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    Made Cut

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    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

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    Missed Cut

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