Annika Seeks Sweep Wie Some Respect


2007 Fields OpenKAPOLEI, Hawaii -- It took Annika Sorenstam 17 months to hoist a trophy again. Shes now seeking her second title in as many weeks and third straight victory in Hawaii while rising in the rankings.
Fresh off a two-stroke victory in the season-opening SBS Open, Sorenstam is trying to complete the Hawaiian sweep at the Fields Open, which starts Thursday. The victory was the 70th of her LPGA Tour career and first since September 2006
Im thrilled and Im happy, and that gives you motivation to continue and work hard, said Sorenstam, the 37-year-old Swedish star who had an injury-shortened season in 2007 where she was winless for the first time since her rookie season in 1994.
The win vaulted Sorenstam two spots to No. 2 in the world behind Lorena Ochoa.
Im not complaining, said Sorenstam, who moved past Suzann Pettersen and Karrie Webb.
Ochoa, who will start her season next week in Singapore in the HSBC Womens Champions, still leads Sorenstam by a large margin behind her impressive eight-win season in 2007.
Theres a lot of catching up to do, Sorenstam said. Im just going to focus on the things that I can control, which is my golf and my swing.
Sorenstam was limited to 13 events because of neck and back injuries and managed six top-10s finishes. Her scoring average of 71.27 was the highest and her earnings ($532,718) the lowest since she was a rookie.
The 54-hold event at Ko Olina also features Michelle Wies 2008 debut.
Wie, also coming off a trying year, is now healthy, stronger and eager for a strong showing at Ko Olina, where she missed a playoff by a shot in 2006, when she was a high school junior.
I feel good about this year, she said. I feel like everything is coming back into place.
Wie injured both wrists last year but kept playing, and struggling. She made only three cuts. In nine starts, she withdrew twice and only broke par twice in 19 rounds against women.
Sorenstam recommended that Wie take care of her body first for her long-term success.
Golf is important and its a big part of my life. You go as much as you can but you have to remember'and I can tell you from last year'if youre not healthy, you cannot do what you want to do, Sorenstam said. I dont know what shes doing rehab-wise, working out-wise. But you really need to take care of yourself.
On Tuesday, Wie said she has accepted that her injured wrists will never be 100 percent again but is as good as it can be.
The 18-year-old from Honolulu is starting the season against the women for the first time in five years. She previously opened at the PGA Tours Sony Open where she nearly made the cut as a 14-year-old when she shot a 68. But she didnt play Waialae this year.
Its definitely going to be an emotion-filled tournament and its going to be a lot of fun, Wie said.
Many people are curious to see how Wie performs this year.
Its got to be small steps, Wies swing coach David Leadbetter said. In the middle of 2006, she looked like she had a chance to win every tournament she was entering. Shes going to have to work her way back. Shes going to have to get to the point where she builds her confidence, she gets her belief back and probably the respect of a lot of people, too.
Sorenstam might on that list.
Wie withdrew from last years Ginn Tribute, hosted by Sorenstam, after shooting 14 over through 16 holes, saying she aggravated a wrist injury.
Wie said she withdrew because she tweaked the injury and not because of an LPGA Tour rule that bans non-tour members for the year if they shoot 88 or higher. Wie was two bogeys from that scenario when she stopped.
Two days later, Wie was hitting balls on the range, drawing sharp words from Sorenstam.
On Wednesday, Sorenstam said she wasnt sure if Wie would receive another invitation to the tournament, or even if the teen had requested one.
When asked if all was smoothed about between the two, Sorenstam said she hasnt talked to Wie.
So its not (about) being smooth or not, she said. Im just minding my own business. Its nothing I walk around thinking about. She has her career and I have mine. Thats kind of how it is. I respect her as a golfer and I know she has a lot of talent and I wish her best.
Last week, Sorenstam made her first appearance in Hawaii since winning the 2002 LPGA Takefuji Classic at Waikoloa. At the event, a towering 12-year-old girl made her LPGA Tour debut through a qualifier. Wie missed the cut by three strokes.
A lot of things have happened since then, Sorenstam said.
Last year, Stacy Prammanasudh won her second LPGA Tour title at Ko Olina, leading wire-to-wire en route to a one-stroke victory over Jee Young Lee.
Prammanasudh is paired with Sorenstam and Japans Ai Miyazato for the first two rounds. Scores should be low if the winds stay down on the resort course with generous fairways.
You can make birdies from 50 yards off the fairway, Prammanasudh said. On a golf course like this, you really dont know who you anticipate playing well. Obviously, (Sorenstam) has won 70 times. Theres a reason for that. But it is anybodys golf course.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Fields Open in Hawaii