Sorenstam Ready to Go

By Associated PressMay 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Annika Sorenstam was playing just like the guys in her group. She was hitting fairways, reaching some greens and leaving herself in position for pars and maybe even a birdie or two.
 
The gallery had grown to more than a hundred curious people by the time she hit her drive at No. 7, just missing the fairway into the right rough.
 
She got the ball back in the fairway, but only a few yards ahead after it ricocheted off a tree. Her approach landed in a greenside bunker, then she skipped a shot across the green into another one.
 
But Sorenstam wasn't keeping score Tuesday, for the good or the bad. It was only a practice round.
 
'I probably played nine good holes and nine bad holes,' she said after the round ended her nearly 13-hour day at Colonial Country Club.
 
On Thursday, Sorenstam will become the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour when she tees off in the Colonial. Every stroke will count and the crowds will be several times larger.
 
Only one player gets this much attention on the PGA Tour, and Tiger Woods is nowhere near the Colonial.
 
Nearly 600 media credentials have been issued, quadruple the normal for the tournament. Reporters and cameras document her every move, and a security detail surrounds her every step.
 
The spotlight is shining fully on Sorenstam.
 
'I'm still overwhelmed and I can't believe how many of you guys are here,' Sorenstam said. 'When I accepted the invitation, I must have been very naive. I'm doing this to test myself, and I didn't think everybody else wanted to test me at the same time.'
 
Sorenstam only wants to see how her game -- the best in women's golf -- will stack up against the men. After years of dreaming and three months of hype, the 32-year-old Swede is about to find out.
 
During her practice round Tuesday afternoon with Sergio Garcia, Jesper Parnevik and Tim Clark, Sorenstam at times split the fairway with her tee shots. She also hit into the elements -- trees, sand, water -- and often hit multiple shots.
 
'The course is tough, but I loved this,' Sorenstam said. 'I had a good time and the guys were very nice. Sergio especially taught me shots and shared some of his information. That's one of the reasons I'm here, it was perfect.'
 
After Sorenstam blasted a couple of balls out of the bunker at No. 7, Garcia -- the 2001 Colonial champ -- offered a few tips. She got to test what he told her at No. 8, hitting out of a bunker to about 6 feet on the par 3.
 
'If I shoot level par, I'll be so pleased,' Sorenstam said.
 
Parnevik, who joined the group for the final 13 holes, said Sorenstam seemed relaxed. And while he thinks she will shoot better than some expect, he believes it will be tough for her to make the cut.
 
'I would think if she breaks 75 two days in a row, that would be realistic,' he said. 'To make the cut, she will have to play her very best, and some.'
 
Ever since she decided in February to play on the PGA Tour, accepting a sponsor's exemption from Bank of America, Sorenstam has been besieged by questions: What will she shoot? Will she make the cut? How will she handle the pressure?
 
Like everybody else, she is ready to find out.
 
'I'm prepared. If I wait another week, three months or three years, I won't be any more prepared. I'm ready to go,' she said. 'This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to enjoy the week.'
 
The last woman to play on the PGA Tour was Babe Zaharias in 1945. She qualified for the Los Angeles Open and made the 36-hole cut, but was eliminated after a third-round 76.
 
Sorenstam will play the first two rounds with PGA Tour rookies Dean Wilson and Aaron Barber. All of their names, picked randomly by a computer, were drawn out of the category of players who haven't won or finished in the top 125 on the money list.
 
'It's a unique experience to be able to play with her in a tournament atmosphere like this,' said Wilson, who Tuesday wore a 'Go Annika' button he bought for $3 at Colonial's pro shop.
 
Some PGA Tour players have criticized Sorenstam's decision to play, and defending Colonial champ Nick Price called her appearance a publicity stunt. Barber and Wilson disagreed.
 
'She has every right to be in this tournament, and I'm all for her playing well,' Wilson said.
 
Barber said Sorenstam has 'earned this opportunity based on her resume.'
 
The most-watched group at Colonial starts on the 10th tee Thursday at 8:58 a.m., the last morning trio on the course. Their second round begins on the first tee at 1:43 p.m. Friday.
 
Woods called Sorenstam on her cell phone Monday morning to offer some final tips -- mostly how to cope with the media. He told her she better play well because he would be watching.
 
Along with millions of others.
 
Related Links:
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page
  • Annika and the Colonial Timeline
  • Full Coverage of the Bank of America Colonial
     

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.