Statistics tell us she loops her drives about 265 yards. That puts her in the ballpark of the boys, as long as its a relatively compact ballpark. There were 195 men who did better last year, but at least she would be ranked. Distance alone doesnt figure to knock her out of the competition.
Last year she hit better than 80 percent of the LPGAs fairways, which if traded tit-for-tat to the PGA Tours fairways, would have trailed only Fred Funk. She hit 79.8 percent of the greens, which by far and away would have led the mens tour ' the best of the men at hitting greens was Tiger Woods at 74 percent. Her putting was a bit dicey ' she finished 39th on the LPGA with a figure of 29.66. That would only place her 81st on the PGA Tour.
Unfortunately, thats about all we have to go by. Those are LPGA statistics placed up against PGA Tour statistics, and thats not very fair. The only stats that translate from one tour to the other is the driving distance ' where Annika gives up a decided amount of ground ' and the fairways hit ' where she is right on target. Actually, because everyone begins the hole with the ball perched up perfectly on a tee, this is probably the only applicable stat. Even the fairways hit category may be deceiving. Sorenstam is probably as accurate as any male with her driver, but theres little doubt that the PGA Tour has the tighter fairways.
Of course, Sorenstam probably wouldnt have hit almost 80 percent of the greens if she were playing courses that were 5-600 yards longer, as the mens tour are. But, Distance isnt that important if its narrow, she insists. Id like to see really thick rough that is punishing, even to chip it out.
She would be using more club - by two or three - on each swat from the fairway to the green, and the longer club she would have to use would affect her accuracy a little. Then the chipping and putting game would come into play, and Annika rates only average on her short game.
Of course, one area that cant be reduced to statistics is something called heart. And its something that Sorenstam possesses in multiples. She would surely rate in the mens top 10 in that category ' call it will to win or pride or whatever. She has proven that she has it, and very few who play the game can equal her reliance on it.
Reduced to cold statistics, Sorenstam doesnt appear to have much of a chance. But these things are rarely decided by cold statistics.
I would love to play, Annika said in an unguarded moment last week. I have nothing to lose, I think it would be a great challenge.
She then remembered whom she was ' golfs version of the ice maiden ' and reverted back to form. She wasnt interested in playing multiple events on the PGA Tour - only once, she said. I think it is important that it is the right venue, the timing needs to be right, she remarked later. And ' If Im going to do it, Im going to do it at the right golf course, something that will fit my game.
Dont you believe it. Annika Sorenstam would dearly love to test herself against the men. Yes, she could bring irreparable damage to the womens game if she bombed out. But she has won the right to have the chance. She won 13 times worldwide last year, 11 on the LPGA Tour. If she picks the right course ' B.C. Open? ' and she makes the cut, I, for one, will be there cheering, You go, girl!!