The World Will Be Watching Sorenstam
That was the 1945 Los Angeles Open, and it wound up as only a footnote among the amazing accomplishments of Babe Zaharias.
Annika Sorenstam might not be so lucky. No matter what happens when Sorenstam plays in the PGA Tour's Colonial in May, it could become the defining moment of her career.
That's one reason Tiger Woods offered his support with caution.
``I think it's great she's playing, but ' this is the 'but' part ' it will only be great for women's golf if she plays well,'' Woods said. ``I think if she goes out there and posts two high scores, I think it's going to be more detrimental than it's going to be good.''
Years from now, more people will remember what she did at Colonial ' whether she made the cut or missed it badly ' than how many LPGA Tour events Sorenstam won.
She is not trying to champion a cause. Sorenstam said to put women's golf entirely on her shoulders would be a heavy load, and that's not why she's playing.
``I'm not here to prove anything. I'm here to test myself,'' she said.
Still, the question was quick to arise when Sorenstam first mentioned Jan. 22 that she would say ``yes in a heartbeat'' if offered an invitation to play on the PGA Tour.
Does the perception of women's golf depend on her performance?
Sorenstam said women in the sport already face unfair comparisons with men, from the prize money to the size and setup of the golf courses they play.
``It would be more beneficial if I did well,'' she said. ``If not, then I don't think it would change anything.''
But there already is a precedent.
Go back two years to the ``Battle at Bighorn,'' when Sorenstam and Woods played against David Duval and Karrie Webb in a made-for-TV exhibition designed to showcase the women in a format (mixed teams) where they couldn't fail.
Then, gusts up to 30 mph hit the California desert about 15 minutes before showtime, creating some of the toughest conditions all year.
Sorenstam made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a playoff that she and Woods won, but that's not what people remember. The lasting image was Sorenstam's knocking a 25-foot birdie putt off the green and into the fairway. Also, neither woman managed to hit the 18th fairway in regulation or the playoff.
``It was a very difficult day,'' Sorenstam said. ``I learned something, and that's just how I look at things ' to move on and get better.''
It is pointless to predict what might happen at Colonial. Phil Mickelson says she will finish 20th. Jeff Sluman believes she can make the cut. Privately, other players say she has no chance of getting to the weekend without a rain delay.
``I have no expectations of how I will finish,'' Sorenstam said.
But whether this is the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour or the Battle at Bighorn, one thing about golf never changes.
Everyone will be keeping score.
``If she makes the cut, does that prove anything?'' Brad Faxon asked. ``If she finishes 40th or 20th? Is that a gauge for what? We already know she's the best woman golfer.''
There is a certain mystique about Sorenstam that she created by becoming the first woman to shoot 59. Her rhythmic swing, the head rotating down the fairway just before she makes contact, is the most intimidating in women's golf. She rarely makes mistakes.
Still, as recently as two years ago, she wasn't even the best in women's golf. It was Webb who dominated the LPGA by winning the career Grand Slam, winning back-to-back U.S. Women's Opens by a combined 13 strokes and drawing comparisons to Mickey Wright.
Despite her awesome record, Sorenstam has won only four majors in nine years. Webb has won five majors, Juli Inkster seven.
``If she built up her record and won, let's say, 10 majors, then nothing could take away from that no matter what she did at Colonial,'' Woods said.
Zaharias was the last woman to play on the PGA Tour. She qualified for the Los Angeles Open and made the 36-hole cut, only to get eliminated the next day with a 79.
Such a feat isn't even mentioned in the ``Story of American Golf'' by Herbert Warren Wind. Zaharias is best known as the greatest female athlete in the first half of the 20th century ' she won gold medals at the 1932 Olympics in the 80-meter hurdles and javelin throw and claimed 10 major championships in golf.
Sorenstam got more attention for accepting an invitation to the Colonial than for anything she has ever done on the LPGA Tour, from her 59 to winning more tournaments last season (13) than any golfer in nearly 40 years.
Some major newspapers already plan to cover Sorenstam's first LPGA tournament in Phoenix. She will be in the spotlight in all six of the tournaments she plays before she gets to the Colonial.
Sorenstam might not want to carry women's golf on her broad shoulders, but it will be along for the ride.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18