Annikas Season The Greatest

By Mercer BaggsJune 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
Well hell. What are you supposed to say? To heap accolade upon encomium upon Annika Sorenstam is inane. Her name alone should now stand for such excellence that the mere mention of it should be sufficient praise.
 
You dont need the numbers anymore. You dont need to know how wonderful and how super and how great she is. You already know.
 
If I was to fill this space with the story of how Sorenstam beat down the field at the McDonalds LPGA Championship, how she became the first woman since Patty Berg in 1939 to win the same major on three consecutive occasions, how she did it at a different venue than the one in which won her first two titles, how she completed the second leg of the seasonal Grand Slam, how she earned her 62nd career LPGA Tour victory, how she captured her ninth career major trophy, how she won for the sixth time in eight tries this season, what would I say? That shes good? Really good?
 
Nice insight, chief, would have to be your response. Did you attend the University of Obvious? Was your mascot the Fighting Duh?
 
You already know that Annika is wonderful and super and great. But just how special could this season be for her? Could this go down as the greatest season in golf history ' by man or by woman?
 
Could this be better than Woods 2000? Hogan 1953? Nelson 1945? Jones 1930?
 
Most certainly.
 
Woods won nine times in 20 starts, including three consecutive majors in 2000. Ben Hogan won five of the seven tournaments he entered in 53, as well as all three majors in which he was able to compete.
 
Byron Nelson played 30 events in 1945 and won 18 times, including 11 in a row.
 
And Jones won the U.S. and British Opens, and the U.S. and British Amateurs in 30 for what was the precursor to the Grand Slam, the Impregnable Quadrilateral.
 
On the women's side, there is perhaps Mickey Wright in 1961, when she won three majors and 10 times overall; there's Wright in 1963, when she won two majors and a tour record 13 times overall; and there's Sorenstam in 2001, when she won one major and 11 times overall.
 
But this Sorenstam has the chance ' the chance ' to better them all.
 
Shes already won more times this year than Hogan did in 53. If she continues at her current pace ' shes won 75 percent of starts this year ' then she will win about 14 of 18 tournaments entered. That would not only be a new tour record, it would easily surpass Tigers total in 2000. Her victory percentage would be greater than Nelsons ' and many of Nelsons wins in 45 came in two-man team tournaments.
 
You can bemoan Sorenstams competition, but didnt Tigers rivals catch heat in 2000? Werent a few of Nelsons mighty peers at war in 45? And exactly who of note did Jones defeat to win his amateur titles in 30?
 
What will make or break Sorenstams season of superiority will be the final two majors. She must complete the seasonal Grand Slam to have any mention of her 2005 being the greatest year ever in golf.
 
And even then it might be shadowed as has Sorenstam herself.
 
Can you imagine if Tiger was performing like Annika this season? Places to where hes never been would be mailing him the key to their city.
 
But Annika cant control how others choose to ' or choose not to ' view her. All she can do is try to win. And winning is all she seems to do.
 
With two majors down and two to go, we look ahead to the U.S. Womens Open and the Weetabix Womens British Open.
 
Unlike the PGA Tour, which gives its players a chance to recoup and prepare for majors by placing them at least one month apart, the LPGA Tour has scheduled the Womens Open just two weeks after the McDonalds LPGA Championship.
 
This could be the ultimate test this season for Sorenstam: immediately putting behind her a major championship victory and focusing on another. And not just another major, but the biggest tournament of the year.
 
Sorenstams first-ever tour victory came at the Womens Open in 1995, her sophomore campaign. She then repeated the following year. She hasnt since won the event, but she has been getting closer to a return trip to the winners circle, having finished second-fourth-second over the last three years.
 
This years Open will be contested at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado. Shes never played a tournament on this course, but unfamiliarity certainly didnt hinder her at the McDonalds, where she had never before played Bulle Rock and still won by three.
 
Her first Open title came in Colorado, at The Broadmoor. That may have no relevant meaning, but it cant be a bad thing.
 
If she can claim Leg 3 of the Slam, then she will have five more weeks to think about what shes been focusing on for years.
 
The Womens British will take place at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Merseyside, England. She won at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire two years ago.
 
Unlike Cherry Hills, Sorenstam has before played this layout. She tied for 17th in 2000 when Royal Birkdale hosted its first Womens British. The tournament, however, didnt receive major championship status until the following year.
 
There once was a worry about the Y2K bug. Then the calendar turned 2000 and all the LPGA Tour players had to concern themselves with this Annika pest.
 
Shes getting on my nerves, Laura Davies said Friday, before Sorenstam had even officially passed her for the second-round lead.
 
No doubt, Sorenstam is in every top-level players craw. No matter what they do, no matter how well they play, its simply not enough.
 
Saying that Annika Sorenstam is currently the best female player on the planet is like saying gravity keeps us grounded. It literally can not be argued nor disputed.
 
But there are arguments concerning Annika. It can be debated as to whether or not she is the best female player of all time. It can be debated as to whether or nor she is the best player of any gender in the game today. It can even be debated as to whether or not she is todays most dominant athlete in any sport.
 
And if she maintains her current march, it will soon be worth debating whether or not she has produced the greatest season in the history of golf.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
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