Annikas Motives Purely Personal


No matter what you think about Annika Sorenstams motives in playing the Bank Of America Colonial on the PGA Tour, she wants you to know this: it is not about men, it is not a Battle of the Sexes. Its about one women who wants to find out how she will do when placed in the crucible of competition with the best golfers in the world ' period.
Theres certain things I can control and certain things I cant, she said, realizing that people are going to put their own spin on the situation. Id just like to emphasize that Im not putting the guys on test here - or men against women. Far from that. This is a test for me, personally.
So, if I can just relate that to them ' I mean, theyve got to trust me, this is why Im doing it. I wouldnt start to get into any political things, I have nothing to do with that. Thats not my goal here. Im dont want to put the guys on the defensive or anything. I just want to play against the best and see what happens.
Life has been a whirlwind for Sorenstam since it was announced earlier this week that she would jump out of the LPGA for one week and try the PGA Tour. Thursday night was one more distraction, with Sorenstam taking questions for an hour.
One theme that keeps coming through is that she will do what is best for the task at hand. Normally she goes into a tournament thinking about a win. She is going into this one blind, with the goal of just playing as well as she can.
I gotta believe in what I can do. I have no idea how these guys play, she said. Im going to go out there and play the course the way its set up. If I play well, I have no idea where that will put me.
But Im going to have a positive attitude. Thats the way youve got to approach this ' (that) this is a test. You know, if I didnt believe in myself, I wouldnt do this and I wouldnt be a professional golfer today. I love the challenges and Im gonna be aggressive.
Sorenstam picked Colonial because it is not overly long, but it requires players to hit all the shots. Ninety percent of the tour courses, she said, wouldnt be a candidate because of their length or because they dont have the same shot requirements. She mentioned the characteristics of a Corey Pavin, who has won the Colonial twice.
Youve got to be a player that can maneuver the golf ball, and have control of your shots, Sorenstam said. Corey Pavin displays exactly that ' he might not be long off the tee, but he hits in the middle of the fairway and can hit an iron to perfection onto the green next to the flag.
That, I believe, is my strength. I would never contend in a driving competition. That is not what I am trying to prove, I am just trying to prove that I can play a course that will fit my game and hit from A to B.
Driving, though, certainly isnt Sorenstams weak point. Her average last year was only 265 yards, long by LPGA standards but far down the mens tour ladder. However, she said that 265 is not a true indication of what she can do now.
Id like to say its longer than that (265) she said. I got this new driver in September. If you look at my average since September, Id say its higher than that. How much I dont know. In Tulsa (at an LPGA tournament late last year) I hit a few drives ' obviously my best drives ' 280, 290. I would probably average 270 if I go play today.
That would be more than sufficient at Colonial, where many of the doglegs mean that 260-270 yards is all a golfer can hit, anyway. Many of the men will be using long irons or a 3-wood off the tee. Sorenstam will be using the driver, and shes one of the best in the world at putting it where shes aiming.
And Sorenstam said that from the 7-iron on in, she hits the same club as most men. She mentioned an exhibition she played in December with David Duval, Jack Nicklaus and Lorena Ochoa. Duval and she hit the same club when they had 7-iron or less. When it was 170 yards or more, she acknowledged she needed one or two clubs more than Duval.
At Augusta National ' a course that plays quite long because of the hilly terrain ' Sorenstam said she shoots about even par from the middle tees, about 2 over when she plays all the way back at the tips. She hasnt played the course since it has been redone, though, she added.
Sorenstam admitted the thought of playing a mens event has crossed her mind for a long time now. But not until this year did she actually think it was possible.
My husband and I have always talked about, I wonder how you would play against the men? You know, on their golf course, she said. I watch a lot of PGA (tour) tournaments on TV, and I thought about it for a quick second. But then, the conversation would die and we wouldnt talk about it.
But Ive had it in the back of my mind. So when the question was asked, it wasnt totally strange to me. It was more like, Hey, I might have an opportunity! So, yeah, I would do it a heartbeat.
Suzy Whaley deserves the credit for making it possible, she said. The Connecticut head professional played a PGA sectional and won it, albeit from shorter tees than the men. For her efforts, she gets to play in the Greater Hartford Open. She emboldened Annika to think about an exemption for herself, Sorenstam said.
I think its Suzy Whaley, if something set the stage. She qualified last year and there was all the talk about her doing it. Shes a teaching professional, so therefore the discussion was, what happens if somebody who does play for a living does this? she said.
The Colonial is played at the end of May, prior to the Hartford tournament. Therefore, Sorenstam will have already have played in a mens event before Whaley does. But this in no way is meant to one-up Whaley, Sorenstam said. And Whaley said she is thrilled that Sorenstam gets the opportunity.
This has nothing to do with Suzys eligibility playing that event, Sorenstam said. She earned her right in there. This is nothing to steal her thunder, by any means.
She is a golfer, first and foremost, who wants to push back the envelope and see where it takes her.
Ive looked at myself as a golfer and said, Where do I want to take my game? What are my goals? Ive always liked a challenge.
You know, I really didnt look at it as making history or anything like that. This is an opportunity for me to showcase my game and see how good I am. This is a true test for me, and thats as far as Ive stretched it.