Spectacular Views Greet Sorenstam and Co


2005 Office Depot ChampionshipRANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- With gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean from every hole and a passel of youngsters chasing her, Annika Sorenstam might find herself slightly distracted in the Office Depot Championship.
If she gets tired of gazing at the ocean, there are no less than four waterfalls, including two rising to 25 feet, on the new Trump National course in a reflection of audacious owner Donald Trump.
``This is quite a place,'' Sorenstam said Thursday after playing her first practice round on the 6,017-yard, par-71 course that has yet to open to the public. ``The views are absolutely spectacular. You got to try and stay focused on your game and not look too much at the views.''
Sorenstam tees off Friday in pursuit of her eighth tour victory of the season. She won the 54-hole Office Depot tourney the last two years when it was played at El Caballero Country Club in the Los Angeles suburb of Tarzana, and also won the 2001 event at Wilshire Country Club.
Her seven wins this season lead the LPGA Tour, and include two of the year's four majors. She also leads the money list and is atop the standings for player of the year and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
``All those three things mean a lot to me, those are something I'd like to achieve,'' she said.
Sorenstam plans to play six tournaments the rest of the year, including stops in South Korea and Japan, giving her a chance to improve on the 11 victories she had in 2002.
``I want to end this season the way I started,'' said Sorenstam, who won three of the year's first four tournaments. ``I played really well early on and I'd like to finish that way.''
So would Paula Creamer, who already has clinched LPGA rookie of the year honors with three months left in the season. She is second to Sorenstam on the money list.
The 19-year-old Creamer is coming off a runner-up finish to Sorenstam at the Oklahoma stop, and a breakthrough performance in the Solheim Cup, where she helped the United States defeat Europe.
``That was the highlight of my golf career,'' she said. ``That proved to me that I can play out there and I can play with the best players in the world.''
Creamer has two LPGA Tour victories this year, the second in July in the Evian Masters in France. This week's course reminds her of that location.
``Just the setting, the golf course and the hills. It sets up really well for my game,'' she said. ``It is really a test of golf and that's what I want. I like to have a challenge.''
Besides tackling a new course, Sorenstam and Creamer will face a formidable field beginning Friday. U.S. Open champion Birdie Kim and British Open winner Jeong Jang are playing, along with every woman who has won a title this year.
``I don't look at them and say, `Hey, I got to practice, I got to do this and that,''' Sorenstam said. ``I know what I want to achieve in my career, I'm pretty much a self-motivator.''
That's one of the only traits the low-key Sorenstam has in common with the blustery Trump, who is expected to attend Sunday.
The Trump National course was infamous even before the real estate mogul bought it. In 1999, a landslide destroyed portions of the 18th hole when the course was known as Ocean Trails. It took more than a million cubic yards of dirt and four years to rebuild.
Trump bought the course that sits above the ocean in ritzy Rancho Palos Verdes and the digging began. The man who fires and hires people on NBC's ``The Apprentice'' wanted something spectacular, and he got it.
A two-tiered waterfall is an eye-catching sight near the first green, and another one decorates the 17th green. One of the waterfalls features a tunnel that takes players to the next tee. The fairways are narrow and the ocean breeze can cause problems when it kicks up.
``I was talking to some of the players this morning and they were saying, `You hit a bad shot, you look over to the ocean. You hit a good shot, you still look over there,''' Creamer said. ``You have to stay focused, but it is beautiful.''
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