Annika and the Colonial Timeline

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This week, Annika Sorenstam will become the first woman since Babe Zahrias, in the 1945 Tucson Open, to compete in a PGA Tour event. This is a timeline of events that led to her historic participation at the Bank of America Colonial in Ft. Worth, Texas.
 
Dec. 11, 2002:
Suzy Whaley, a 36-year-old golf pro from Connecticut, announces she will enter the 2003 Greater Hartford Open, July 24-27, which would make her the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event in 58 years. Whaley earned a spot in the field by winning a qualifying event against men -- while playing from the front tees -- in September of 2002.
 
Annika Sorenstam & Vince CelliniJan. 20, 2003:
Annika Sorenstam, who won 13 times around the world in 2002, appears on The Golf Channel's 'Golf Talk' with Vince Cellini. Sorenstam tells host Vince Cellini, 'If I got an invite I would love to play (in a PGA Tour event), regularly, no. But once in a while, yeah.'
 
Jan. 22 :
At a media event benefitting her sponsor, Callaway, at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Sorenstam reiterates she would consider playing in a PGA Tour event: 'I have nothing to lose...I think it would be a great challenge,' she said.
 
Jan. 26:
Sorenstam is offered a sponsor's exemption to the B.C. Open, a $3 million PGA Tour event, July 17-20 in Endicott, N.Y.
 
Jan. 30:
According to a report in the Arizona Republic, Sorenstam is to be offered a sponsor's exemption in the following month's Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
 
Feb. 12:
After much speculation, an official press release announces that Sorenstam will play in the Bank of America Colonial, May 22-25. In the release, Annika says, 'There were many invitations, but the golf course and schedule of the Colonial were ideal. For all the well-wishers who want to know why I would accept such a challenge, the answer is simple: I am curious to see if I can compete in a PGA Tour event.'
 
Feb. 12:
At the Buick Invitational, Phil Mickelson predicts Sorenstam would make the cut and finish 'around 20th' at the Colonial.
 
Feb. 19:
In the wake of Sorenstam's acceptance of a sponsor's exemption to the Colonial, Brian Kontak, a 31-year-old mini tour player, tells The Golf Channel that he plans to try to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.
 
Feb. 20:
At the Nissan Open, Colonial's defending champion Nick Price expresses his displeasure over Sorenstam's playing to Steve Sands, saying it reeks of publicity and adding that Ben Hogan would be rolling over in his grave.'
 
Feb. 25:
On Fox's 'The Best Damn Sports Show Period,' Kontak appears and discusses his plans to play in the U.S. Women's Open and states his opinion on Sorenstam.
 
Mar. 13:
CBS' '60 Minutes' with Leslie Stahl airs a feature profiling Sorenstam.
 
Mar. 14:
Sorenstam, LPGA T&CP member Suzy Whaley and other LPGA players are featured in an NBC 'Nightly News' segment chronicling the evolution and advancement of women's golf.
 
Mar. 19:
Reports say Atlanta Braves players Chipper Jones and John Smotz joined Sorenstam and Tiger Woods for a round at Woods' home course in Isleworth, just outside of Orlando. According to Smoltz, Woods had the best score that day with a 66, with Smoltz next at 74. Sorenstam was two shots behind Smoltz, and Jones, who's been battling a thumb injury since early in spring training, declined to give his score from that day.
 
Mar. 29:
Price comments: 'What really irritates me more than anything else is it's happening at the tournament where I'm the defending champion.'
 
Apr. 2:
Sorenstam appears on NBC's 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno.'
 
Apr. 6:
The third time's the charm for Sorenstam when she wins The Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott -- her first LPGA victory of the season -- by 4 strokes over Se Ri Pak.
 
Apr. 20:
Sorenstam is featured on NBC's 'Today' after spending time with co-host Matt Lauer at her home course in Orlando.
 
Apr. 28:
Sorenstam appears on Fox's 'The Best Damn Sports Show Period' with Tom Arnold and John Salley.
 
May 9:
Sorenstam pledges to donate half of whatever she earns at the Bank of America Colonial to the LPGA Corning Classic -- which is being played the week of the Colonial -- charities.
 
May 11:
Sorenstam records a nine-stroke victory in Tokyo at the Nichirei Cup World Ladies Golf Tournament, her final event before the Colonial.
 
May 11:
As he leaves the locker room at Quail Hollow late Sunday afternoon, Vijay Singh tells the Associated Press that Sorenstam has no business playing in the Colonial next week and reportedly says, 'I hope she misses the cut,' and that on the odd chance he gets paired with her, he'll withdraw.
 
May 13:
GOLF Magazine's June 2003 issue hits newstands on this day. Sorenstam becomes the first woman in 26 years, since Judy Rankin, to appear on the cover.
 
May 13:
Singh says he was sorry if his comments about Sorenstam playing on the PGA Tour came across as a personal attack. 'If it was an attack on Annika at all, I would like to apologize to her,' Singh said after a practice round for the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. 'It was not put that way. It came out the wrong way.'
 
May 14:
Woods, speaking from the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, says Sorenstam should play in four or five men's tournaments and not just the Colonial.
 
May 14:
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem urged critics to 'just relax' and not worry about Sorenstam playing in a men's event. Finchem also cautioned fans not to be 'too hard' on those who criticize the No. 1 female golfer for accepting the invitation.
 
May 15:
Speaking on a conference call to promote next month's ShopRite LPGA Classic, Sorenstam says she was surprised at the stir created by her decision to play in the PGA Tour event. Without ever mentioning his name, Sorenstam brushed off Singh's comments about her playing in the Colonial, saying he was entitled to his opinion. She also said she thinks she can win the tournament. 'I believe so, if all the stars are lined up right,' she said.