Sorenstam Quietly Wins Eight Again


I asked myself again today why there isnt more of a ruckus made about Annika Sorenstams win total. After last weeks success at the Safeway Classic in Portland, she has eight wins this season and lost in a playoff in another.
She had eight last season. Shes batting just about .500 this year, winning a tournament almost every other time she tees it up. And she still has five tournaments left in her season.
And the answer to the lack of hoopla question is ' I dont know. Is it the fault of the LPGA publicity machine? Is it the fault of us in the media? Is it the fault of you the golfing public? Is it the fault of her basically reserved personality? Is it because of the male perception of womens athletics? Is it the Tiger Factor?
Is it because we are all blind to whats right there before our noses? Yeah, in a nutshell. Sorenstam is very good. Sorenstam is very underrated. Sorenstam is one of the greatest athletes to ever put on a show for public consumption.
Sorenstam, despite her average size, is one of the LPGAs longest drivers at more than 264 yards. That ranks her No. 7. And despite her length, she still is fourth among women in fairways hit. That combination alone of length and accuracy is enough to put her among the most prodigious women in history.
But theres more. She ranks first on the womens tour in greens in regulation. So obviously, shes a very sharp iron player. Her only shortcoming is putting. She ranks 56th there, not bad, really, considering she hits so many greens. But there are about 50 or so women who are better putters. If she putted as well as she hits her irons and woods, who knows how many wins she would have. Fourteen out of 17? Seventeen out of 17?
Sorenstam really has no peer when it comes to womens golf. She has eight wins and the No. 2 player, Se Ri Pak, has three. Case closed. Slam the books shut and lets go home.
After her win Sunday, Annika could have gone another 18 in a playoff and been as fresh as when she first started. The day before, when she shot a 62, she approached it like just another day at the office ' even like the 59 she shot last year.
It pays to practice, it pays to grind, she said. I mean, I feel very comfortable.
When I was 10-under, I wasnt nervous, I wasnt stressed by any means. Not that I shoot 62 very often, but shooting 59 was the biggest thing in my career. It doesnt scare me to make a lot of birdies anymore, and I think thats very important. I wasnt thinking too much about my score, I was focusing on each shot and my mind was clear.
Making a birdie after even more birdies, of course, scares some people. It used to scare her, too, she confessed. Until you think you should make 10 birdies in a round, you wont. Making too many makes most people uncomfortable. She realized it when she was still a junior golfer in Sweden and she was on the verge of breaking 80 for the first time.
I needed to par in, she said, and I bogeyed in. You get nervous because youre breaking your own records.
The first time I broke 70, I remember that it took several times until I was just comfortable parring in. (You have to get) in a comfort zone. You know, if you need a par and youre not used to it, I used to get nervous. Thats why I am comfortable now, because Ive been here before.
Last weeks win was her third in succession, following the Williams Championship and the Compaq Classic, which was played in Sweden and is not official. Sorenstam has finished first, second or third in every tournament but three (l4). She tied for seventh in the Welchs/ Circle K, finished well down in a tie for 59th at the Office Depot, and missed the cut in the Womens British Open.
Sorenstam won eight last season while playing 26 times of the LPGA. Shes totaled that many wins this year while playing nine fewer times. Eight wins in just 17 events? Youve got to be kidding!
When I made that putt (an 11-footer on the last hole to beat Kate Golden), I felt some tears coming down my cheeks, she said. I knew what this would mean. This means a lot to me.
Sorenstam is more than happy to grind out victories in relatively anonymity. She has never complained over the lack of hullabaloo. She goes out and wins, she comes back home to her husband, and it doesnt seem to matter to her that her successes are largely ignored. Its all about being the Tiger Woods of the LPGA, I guess.
But she doesnt mind. No, I dont, said Annika with a smile. I do wish theyd call him the Annika Sorenstam of the PGA Tour sometimes too, though.