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Cracks Show in Sörenstams Game

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Ask Annika Srenstam how she'll do against the men at Colonial and she talks about walking away with her head high on Sunday, knowing she has done her best.

Nice thought, Annika, but don't bother making weekend reservations.
 
A sponsor's invitation will give Srenstam the chance to play with the best on the PGA Tour in May. She'll make history, but she has little chance of making the cut.
 
Two weeks into Srenstam's historic season, the flaws of her game are evident. Surprisingly, they have little to do with how far she hits the ball.
 
Srenstam may be the dominant player in women's golf, but the simple truth is she routinely makes the kind of short game mistakes that force PGA Tour players to spruce up their resumes and look for jobs as club pros.
 
She leaves long putts 20 feet short, flubs chips from the rough and doesn't seem to be able to master the flop shot.
 
Under pressure, she's jumpy. When the wind blows, she's erratic.
 
And when she needed to pump a long drive to get home in two on the 18th hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Sunday, she swung as hard as she could only to hit it weakly into a bunker well right of the fairway.
 
That's not to say Srenstam isn't very good at what she does - mainly beating up on the women on the LPGA Tour.
 
She did it well enough last year to win 11 times, and so far this year has been in the final group in both tournaments she has played.
 
But on the LPGA Tour the courses are short, the rough is even shorter and the pins are generally planted in the middle of the green. Even the best players have a habit of regularly leaving putts well short, and there are only a handful of players capable of competing week in and week out.
 
When Srenstam goes to Texas in May to play the Bank of America Colonial, she'll be under media pressure she never dreamed possible in the cozy confines of the LPGA Tour. She'll find a golf course 7,080 yards long with tiny greens and pins stuck behind bunkers.
 
The wind will likely blow as it often does in Texas. Last year, there were 30 mph winds in the first round and a thunderstorm and gusty winds in the second round.
 
Still, the cut was only 3-over 143, proving that these guys really are that good.
 
Contrast that to a windy Friday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where Srenstam airmailed a wedge over the green on a short par 3, three-putted three times and walked off the course exhausted.
 
'I feel kind of worn out because I was thinking so much on the course,' she said.
 
That kind of thinking will only be magnified at Colonial, where Srenstam will be forced to do something she doesn't do well - shape the ball around trees and through narrow fairways. The men will bang drivers over bunkers and through bends in the fairway while she will have to lay up and hit a 7 wood into the green.
 
For Srenstam, there's no margin for error. She can't flub a chip shot, leave a putt well short or miss-club herself in the wind, all of which she did at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
Players on the PGA Tour are used to slick greens, tough conditions and cutthroat competition. If they're within 50 yards of the green, they expect to get the ball up-and-down.
 
Srenstam isn't, and she tends to play worse under pressure as evidenced by the fact she has won only two major championships since 1996.
 
'I almost get too excited when the majors come and put too much pressure on myself,' Srenstam admitted in Phoenix two weeks ago.
 
Already, there is concern that Srenstam will damage the LPGA Tour with a bad showing.
 
Srenstam's fellow players have been told by LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw to be supportive, but on a tour with as many opinions and viewpoints as the LPGA, it's not easy to keep everyone on the same page.
 
LPGA player Angela Stanford, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and practiced at Colonial once a week for four years while in college, wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated last week predicting Srenstam will have trouble.
 
'If she misses the cut, then people will decide that the only reason she dominates our tour is because the rest of us stink,' Stanford said.
 
People who make a living figuring these kind of things out don't think much of Srenstam's chances, either. At the Palms sports book in Las Vegas, you can bet whether Srenstam will take more or less than 76 strokes to get through the first round.
 
Of course, there's not much precedent for figuring this one out. The last time a female played a PGA TOUR event, Babe Zaharias qualified for the 1945 Los Angeles Open and made the 36-hole cut before a 79 knocked her out of the final round.
 
In the end, you have to give Srenstam credit for trying.
 
You should applaud her for taking a chance no woman has taken in 58 years.
 
But if you want to see her play the Colonial, tune in before the weekend.