Sorenstam Meets the Press at Colonial

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FORT WORTH, Texas -- Annika Sorenstam had to admit she was intimidated. She walked into the media room at the Bank of America Colonial Tuesday and there to greet her were pens and pencils, video cameras, still cameras, tape recorders, microphones of all shapes and sizes ' and bodies.
 
Im overwhelmed and I cant believe how many of you guys are here, she said. Its great. But I think that when I accepted the invitation, I must have been very nave. Im doing this to test myself and I didnt think everybody else wanted to test me at the same time.
 
Colonial officials normally give out about 125 media credentials. This week, with the first woman to play a PGA Tour event in 58 years on hand, theyve given out almost 600.
 
Sorenstam got to Colonial at 6:30 Tuesday morning, saw the ladies locker room where she will be all alone this week, and went out to play golf.
 
She played with fellow Swede Jesper Parnevik and Sergio Garcia. She hit three shots to the par-5 first green and then the deluge started. It continued to rain most of the day, ending all golfing exercises. So Sorenstam will try again Wednesday to get in her second 18 ever on the course.
 
Parnevik and Garcia engaged Sorenstam in a lot of chatter during their abbreviated showing Tuesday. Sorenstam revealed a little of their conversation as they were about to tee off.
 
We were just trying to figure what kind match we were going to play, she said. And the betting and the order and Jesper asked me how many shots I wanted.
 
That wasnt a good thing to say to Annika, who would like to be treated here totally as an equal. I told him Im not here to get any shots, she said, feigning her impudence. And he didnt say much more after that.
 
She reiterated again that she is looking at this as a one time only affair, one time to try the PGA Tour and then she will return forever to the LPGA.
 
I think one week is going to be enough for me, she said. Ive said that this is going to be my only time that I will play on the PGA Tour. Just because the reason is that I want to play on the LPGA, I want to win tournaments and I have a lot of goals that I want to achieve there.
 
If I was here to prove something, then, yeah, I believe I should play more tournaments. But Im not here to prove to anybody anything. Im just here to test myself, kind of get a feel for the water here and learn from the experience.
 
Its not a battle of the sexes thing to Sorenstam, either. She happens to be a woman who plays golf, instead of a woman first, golfer second.
 
There is no way I would have accepted this invitation if I was trying to prove something here, she said. Im just here, maybe a little selfish since Im just trying to be here and test myself. But theres no way I would like to have all the women on my shoulders and have my game rely on all that. Thats too much pressure.
 
So Im just going to leave it up to me and do the best I can. And when I leave here on Sunday, I know what Ive got to work on and I will do that.
 
She has been the subject of a firestorm of negative opinion, but Sorenstam has never wavered. She has determinedly done what she thought was the right course of action ' to play a PGA Tour event ' and she even said Tuesday that she is disappointed that Vijay Singh withdrew. Singh earlier had some of the most critical comments about her appearance here.
 
I was sad that he is not here, said Sorenstam. I think that he is such a great player, top seven in the world, I think its bad for Colonial. But he has his reasons and its unfortunate that hes not here.

But for all the negative comments, she has received just as many which were positive. Many players, both male and female, have wished her well. Nancy Lopez made a telephone call which especially touched her. And this week it was the mens turn. She received congratulations from several.
 
I feel very welcome, she said. Ive had several guys come up to me and they wished me good luck. And Tom Pernice especially was very, very friendly. He said if I needed anything, any help, just to talk to me. And Fred Funk was the first guy to come up and theres been numerous guys. I had breakfast with Jeff Sluman. It was very nice. And I feel obviously a little odd woman out.
 
She told of Tiger Woods phone calls ' hes a neighbor in Orlando and has called several times, even though he is not entered in this tournament. He phoned her twice Monday, just to tell me how to handle things, she said. His experience in handling large crowds and situations where he obviously is the main attraction meant a lot.
 
He told me he would be watching, so I better play well, she said with a grin.
 
Almost everyone who has a computer and access to a newspaper has written opinions on why shes doing this. Many felt that she is trying to get publicity for herself because she supposedly feels somehow slighted. But Sorenstam said she feels exactly the opposite ' she has never felt ignored by the media.
 
I never felt that way, she said adamantly. And I wouldnt ' I personally dont think I would be here if I wouldnt have achieved everything I have.
 
Sorenstam plays at 8:58 CST in Round 1 and at 1:43 p.m. CST in Round 2.
 

Related Links:
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page
  • Annika and the Colonial Timeline
  • Full Coverage of the Bank of America Colonial