Sorenstam Wie Headline in Arizona

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2005 Safeway International presented by CokeSUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Annika Sorenstam always wants to take on the toughest competition, and she's ready to include teenager Michelle Wie in that class.
 
'I love to play against the best in the world, and whoever comes here and plays good golf, I want to compete against,' Sorenstam said Tuesday as she prepared for the at the Safeway International, where she'll be trying for her fourth straight victory and second this year.
 
'So if it's Michelle or Se Ri Pak or Grace Park or Paula Creamer, it really doesn't matter. I just want to come here and try to play good golf.'
 
Good golf is what it will take against Wie, who is trying to become the youngest ever to win an LPGA event. The 6-foot teenager from Hawaii made a strong showing in her LPGA season debut, tying Christie Kerr for second at Turtle Bay Resort last month.
 
Her finest finish in four years of part-time play on the LPGA game the 15-year-old an instant boost of confidence.
 
'Over those years I got to know a lot of players and got to know a lot of the golf courses, the atmosphere,' Wie said. 'It's actually really fun out here.
 
'And I think more of the players are looking at me as a competitor ... .not as, like, an amateur.'
 
Sorenstam won the 57th title of her career two weeks ago in Mexico. She won four of her last six events in 2004, finishing with a rush that led to her seventh LPGA player of the year award - tying Kathy Whitworth for the most ever. She also had the lowest scoring average (68.6970) in history.
 
After winning more than $15.7 million in little over 11 years on the LPGA Tour, Sorenstam's ultimate goal is adding to her collection of seven major titles.
 
That's why she takes Wie seriously.
 
This event on the outskirts of Phoenix leads into next week's Kraft Nabisco Championship, the year's first major, and Sorenstam has firsthand knowledge of Wie's nerveless play in big tournaments.
 
In 2003, Wie, playing in her first major, turned up in the final group of the Kraft Nabisco with Sorenstam and eventual winner Patricia Meunier-Lebouc. Last year, Wie finished fourth in the event, four shots ahead of Sorenstam.
 
'Michelle brings a lot of attention to the tour,' Sorenstam said. 'I think that's wonderful. So business-wise, I think she's a great asset to the LPGA.'
 
Wie, who doesn't turn 16 until Oct. 11, still has nearly three full seasons to win her first LPGA championship and replace Marlene Hagge as the tour's youngest winner. Hagge got her initial win at 18.
 
Wie has no doubt that she'll get there - and go a lot farther.
 
Asked if her goal was to earn the No. 1 ranking that Sorenstam currently holds, she said that might not be enough.
 
'I just really don't know,' Wie said. 'Winning 50 times and maybe winning 100 times (the LPGA record is 88 by Kathy Whitworth). I mean, winning is fun, but, I just want to try something new. I know it sounds kind of ridiculous right now, but playing in men's events, doing something different.'
 
Wie's youthful exuberance let up when asked about Sorenstam, though. She credited the intense, collected Swede for inspiring her to keep improving.
 
'The way she plays is just flawless,' Wie said. 'And it seems so easy, but it isn't.'
 
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