Lorena Annika and Michelle - COPIED


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Michelle Wie wants to be where Lorena Ochoa might be as early as Sunday night. And Annika Sorenstam will do her damndest this week to make sure both of those pursuers continue their chase until she leaves the game on her own terms.
Wie, and everybody else in womens golf whos paying attention, knows that if Ochoa wins the Kraft Nabisco Championship that begins Thursday here at Mission Hills Country Club, she will move to the top of the Rolex world rankings.
Alas for Wie, she will have to watch the drama from her Hawaii home. Wie has three top-10s in the last four years here. But shes still recovering from a wrist injury and does not know when she will play competitively again.
A source close to Wie told me Wednesday that doctors recently removed the soft cast on Wies left wrist. But shes still getting regular therapy from a hand specialist. The source said she wont reveal where she plans to play next until the wrist is completely healed. The Wie camp is satisfied that the healing process is taking place. But at the moment there are no full recovery timetables forthcoming.
For her part, Sorenstam appears to be in a terrific place in her life right now. Yes, Ochoa beat her last week in Arizona at the Safeway International. And Sorenstam is still looking for her first 2007 victory.
But, she says, the adrenaline playing in a major provides an instant motivation high for her. I always feel like I get a little bit more energy and its fun.I get a little more pumped. And thats what I feel like I need now is that extra little pump to get me going. I feel like Ive come such a long ways with my career and there are only a few things that get me excited and thats one of them.
Maybe its her pursuit of Patty Berg, the LPGAs career leader in major championship wins with 15. Sorenstam has 10. Or maybe its the prospect of text-messaging her sometimes practice partner'Tiger Woods'with the simple number: 11. Woods, with 12 major victories on the mens side, currently has a two-major edge in their friendly competition.
To that end Sorenstam has been working on her swing with coach Henry Reis for the last five weeks. I feel like Im coming into the ball a little better, a little more control, she says. Its fun when you feel like youre hitting it where you want to hit it.
But Sorenstam appears to be even more excited about the opening April 16 of her golf academy near Orlando.
The academy is a dream come true for me, she says. Five years ago I was writing down all these thoughts and making drawings about this building I was visualizing and here it is. Its a chance for me to give back to the game of golf. Its a chance for me to expand my brand. You know, share my passion for the game of golf and fitness together. Its a lot of positive things. Again, its another phase of my life and Im happy to begin it.
So while Ochoa covets the opportunity that may come as early as Sunday to take over the top spot, Sorenstam plots her eventual graceful exit. And Michelle Wie chomps at the bit to get back into the mix.
Paula Creamer may not like it. Morgan Pressel may not like it. And at least a dozen Korean women may not like it. But its my best guess that the next great rivalry in womens golf will be Ochoa vs. Wie.
And by the time that happens, Im also guessing, Sorenstam will be a mother and more than a few of the players at her academy will be taking dead aim at Wie and Ochoa.
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