Annikas Quick Test
For those doubting that Annika Sorenstam can be, should be or still is the best player in womens golf, this week gives us a good (albeit) early feel for what this season might give us.
This week the MasterCard Classic embarks on its third year and it still hasnt had a champion other than Annika.
She takes aim at her 70th LPGA win. It would be the sixth time shes opened her schedule with a victory.
But among the 132 players NOT named Annika, there is the player many feel is now a nose above Sorenstam ' and were not lying.
Mexicos superstar and the LPGAs reigning Player of the Year Lorena Ochoa is on hand and the unquestioned fan favorite. Last year, Ochoa won the Corona Morelia Championship (her first in Mexico) on her way to the honor. Rolex Player of the Year honors mean a whole lot when you unseat Sorenstam, whod held the rights to the trophy from 2001-05 and has held the title eight times during her career.
And what a season she had. Six wins and six other times she finished runner-up. Compare that to Sorenstam who won three times and had five second place finishes.
So what will become of Annika? Not just this week, but this year. And not just this year, but over the next five years?
Eighty-eight wins is the benchmark in career victories on the LPGA ' held by the great Kathy Whitworth. Her mark of eighty-eight is more than any player 'male or female on a professional tour.
If Annika can average four wins each year over the next five shell hit 89 and make history in the process.
But that might be looking too far ahead.
Why am I writing about Annika this week? Because the LPGA Tour might be the most compelling of any tour this season and much of the reason is because of the battle south of the border this week.
Sorenstam ' the two-time defending champion ' and Ochoa, the heart and soul of Mexico and the lady who graces the cover of the LPGA media guide.
This is the LPGAs version of Tiger vs. Phil and the odds of the two battling head-to-head on Sunday are a lot better based on their ability to consistently find their way into the mix over the last nine holes.
For those who bought into the rumor that Annika was about to give up the game and concentrate on family ' this is a good week to watch. For those who bought into the rumor that Annika was burned out and didnt have the fire to show up this season ' this is a good week to watch.
Ill admit that I bought into a little bit of both. But Annika denied both rumors and now has a chance to really show us something.
My personal belief is that Ochoa and everyone else in the 132 player field this week at Bosque Real Country Club is in for an awakening.
Sorenstam is more like Tiger than youd think. I expect shell play with a passion thats higher than anything we saw last year. I expect this will be win number one on the way to at least five in 2007 and another Rolex Player of the Year honor.
Beating Ochoa sends quite a message these days. Beating her ' at home ' will send quite a message to everyone on tour.
Its arguably the best pre-season storyline in golf this year. Now its your turn to argue my case or present your own.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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