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Annikas Major Quest

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WILMINGTON, Del. -- Annika Srenstam finished ahead of 11 men when she played on the PGA TOUR at Bank of America Colonial. All that matters now is beating the 143 women she faces in the LPGA Championship.
 
That's something that has never come easily.
 
Despite back-to-back titles in the Kraft-Nabisco Championship and the U.S. Women's Open, her record in the majors hardly compares to everything else she has done on the LPGA Tour.
 
Four major victories is no small feat, unless they belong to the No. 1 player in women's golf who has won 40 other tournaments, set 30 scoring records and has been the LPGA Tour's Player of the Year five times in the last eight years.
 
'The majors is what means the most to me,' she said. 'I've won 44 times, but I want some more majors, so that's my biggest challenge, to see if I can peak when I want.'
 
Juli Inkster has two daughters and seven majors.
 
Karrie Webb is the youngest woman to complete the career Grand Slam, and the only one to win the Super Slam -- four majors, along with the now-defunct du Maurier Classic.
 
Se Ri Pak, the defending champion at the LPGA Championship, is in her sixth year on the LPGA Tour and she already has won as many majors as Srenstam.

That's one reason Srenstam wanted to test her game against the best at Colonial. Along with the pure challenge of playing against the men -- she missed the cut by four shots -- she wanted to prepare herself for four biggest events of the year.
 
'The next time she goes to a major on the LPGA Tour, it will seem like nothing compared to this,' Jesper Parnevik said at Colonial. 'It will be like a practice round for her.'
 
There wasn't even much of a practice round for her at DuPont Country Club.
 
Overnight rains and heavy clouds canceled the pro-am Wednesday, and the course was closed on the eve of the LPGA's second major of the year. Srenstam practiced Tuesday and noticed the rough taller and thicker than ever.
 
'You can't get away with bad shots here,' she said. 'If you hit them good, you'll score well. That's what I love about this golf course.'
 
All that's lacking are the results.
 
Her best chance to win the McDonald's LPGA Championship came six years ago, when she played bogey-free until the final hole, where she three-putted from close range, missing a 2-foot par putt that kept her out of the playoff.
 
She never had much of a chance last year, when the course was firm, fast and as tough as anything the women saw all year.
 
Srenstam lost her patience on the rock-hard greens in the second round and shot 76, and when Sunday arrived, she found herself 14 shots out of the lead. She closed with a 65, the best score of the tournament, just to finish third.
 
'I won four majors, but I never won here,' she said. 'I know I have the game for this course, and I've won majors, so I know I can do this. I haven't performed as well as I should for four days, but hopefully it will change this year.'
 
She has never been more poised to do that.
 
Despite the mental fatigue of playing in front of 20,000 fans on every hole at Colonial, Srenstam bounced back quickly and defended her Kellogg-Keebler Classic last week in Chicago. She bogeyed the last two holes and still won by three.
 
The soggy conditions at DuPont fall right into her game plan.
 
The course figures to play much longer than its 6,408 yards because drives won't roll much on the fairways. Srenstam leads the LPGA in driving distance at 276 yards.
 
The rough is so deep that Pak lost two balls during a practice round Tuesday. Srenstam is renowned for her accuracy off the tee.
 
'I've got to hit good drives and make putts,' Srenstam said. 'This is a big tournament, but I've got to focus on my game, and if I can do that, I think things will be all right.'
 
Competition is likely to come from some familiar faces.
 
Pak is the only other two-time winner on the LPGA Tour this year. Inkster, who has won this tournament twice in the last three years, is coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Corning Classic when she closed with a 62.
 
Webb has been inching up leaderboards every week, and nothing gets her attention quite like a major championship. She has won six of the last 14 majors.
 
Pak poses the biggest threat. She can keep up with Srenstam off the tee, might be even mentally tougher inside the ropes and can get hot with the putter.
 
Pak, 25, won 18 times and four majors in her first five seasons. At that stage in her career, Srenstam had 16 victories and two majors.
 
Can she see herself in Srenstam's position five years from now?
 
'Why not?' Pak said. 'One of my goals was trying to make as much history as I can, which is not easy. But I feel as great about the next five years or more. My success is going to be much more better.'
 

 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.