Sorenstam Having a Vijay-Like Year


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam competed against the men last year at Colonial. Now she is being compared with them.
Sorenstam has won nine times around the world this year, same as Vijay Singh.
And her four-year run as the No. 1 player on the LPGA Tour is equally impressive, if not more, to the way Tiger Woods dominated the PGA Tour during a five-year stretch.
'The kind of golf she's playing, it's unbelievable,' Meg Mallon said Wednesday. 'Everyone is talking about Vijay's year. She's done it for the last six years.'
And that's what might be most impressive of all.
Sorenstam comes into the season-ending ADT Championship at Trump International in the same position as the previous three years ' on top of her game, atop the money list and the player to beat on the LPGA Tour.
'When Annika is in the field, everybody is aware of it,' said Grace Park, who's No. 2 on the money list and will be paired with Sorenstam when the tournament starts Thursday. We know the competition will be that much tougher.'
Winning never gets old, but it has become routine for Sorenstam.
She won a major for the fourth straight year. She already has crossed the $2 million mark for the fourth straight time, an amazing feat considering no other woman has done it once. She already has wrapped up LPGA Tour player of the year and has gone four straight seasons with at least six victories.
The difference this year is that Sorenstam started taking more time off.
The ADT Championship, a season-ending tournament for the top 30 players on the money list, is only her 18th start on the LPGA Tour. She's working less off the course, but learning to get more quality out of her practice sessions.
The bad news for the rest of the LPGA is that she is as good as ever.
'I've played less and still played at the same level,' Sorenstam said. 'I stepped away from the game a lot more this year, and I'm still able to be up there. People from the outside might not see that, but I've noticed that.'
Sorenstam played only 17 times a year ago, but that was different. She spent long, hard hours in the gym and on the range to get ready for the Colonial, where she became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour.
'I've had more time at home and less on the road,' she said. 'I think the negative ' which I thought would be, but I haven't really noticed any ' is that I wouldn't play as much and I'd be a little more rusty. But I'm surprised how consistent I'm playing the weeks I've played.'
Still, she's starting to wonder how long it can last.
Sorenstam once dropped hints about an early retirement, although she said she would continue to play as long as she's motivated and enjoys competing.
The question is whether anyone can challenge her.
Just like with Woods, there has been a revolving door of rivals ' Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Juli Inkster. The fresh challenge now comes from Park, Lorena Ochoa, even Mallon, who won the U.S. Women's Open.
'When you have a player on top dominating, people catch up,' Sorenstam said. 'It's just a matter of time. It's tough to be on top. I've always found it easier to chase something or somebody.'
She was on top last year at Trump International, taking a three-shot lead into the final round and everyone assumed the tournament was over. Mallon had other ideas, rallying with a 67 for a one-shot victory.
Now, the defending champion is just happy to be playing.
Mallon's back went out on her two weeks ago, causing her to miss two LPGA events and a silly season event against the men. She figured she was day-to-day when she arrived Monday, and managed to get through the pro-am.
'I will be very grateful for teeing off,' she said. 'I will be very grateful for getting through a round of golf without having my back go out. But I also need to get myself mentally saying, `You need to be competitive.' Hopefully, that will all come into play.'
No matter what she does at Trump International, nothing will take away from Mallon's year. She won the biggest trophy in women's golf at the U.S. Open. She also won the Canadian Open, and a third event in Ohio, not far from where she went to college at Ohio State.
'It was a magical summer for me,' Mallon said.
Sorenstam feels the same way about her season, even though everyone is used to the results.
'Maybe people take it for granted, but I definitely don't,' Sorenstam said. 'I'm very proud of this year. I think I've played some excellent golf. When you don't play as much, maybe people don't pay attention.'
But it's hard to ignore what she has done ' and continues to do.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - ADT Championship

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