Creamer Annika Try to Find Groove

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2006 Ginn OpenREUNION, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam has one official LPGA Tour win this season. She also teamed with fellow Swede Liselotte Neumann to capture the Womens World Cup in January. Shes currently fifth on the money list, despite having played fewer tournaments than anyone else in the top 35.
 
By most standards, Sorenstam has gotten off to a great start in 2006.
 
Just not by hers.
 
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is still trying to find her groove this season.
I wouldnt say Im very satisfied, she said Wednesday on the eve of the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open.
 
Ive played, what, four events and Ive won twice, including the (World Cup). I have to put things in perspective.
 
That can be a difficult thing to do when youve won 44 times on tour since 2001. Last year, one she considers to be perhaps her best ever, she won 10 of 20 starts on the LPGA and once more on the Ladies European Tour.
 
Well, Ive gotten a little spoiled, she said.
 
I got off to a good start in Mexico, thought I played pretty solid. The last two events its been a little bit up and down. Im playing some really good golf and then Im mixing it with some not-so-good golf.
 
To further showcase Sorenstams remarkable record, her first four starts this season have all been title defenses.
 
Her season began rather nicely with a repeat victory in the MasterCard Classic south of the border. But she then finished outside the top 10 at the Safeway International, a tournament she had won three of the past five years; and in the seasons first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, an event shes also won three times, she finished a disappointing tie for sixth, thus putting a premature end to her Grand Slam hopes.
 
Last week, she led through 54 holes of the Floridas Natural Charity Championship, but double bogeyed the penultimate hole on her way to a 75 and a tie for second.
 
I was very disappointed with the way I played on Sunday. I mean, I was in great shape, she said.
 
I think, you know, this just gives me a little bit more fire and maybe thats what I need for the rest of the season.
 
Sorenstam added that shes looking for more consistency in her game, beginning at this weeks inaugural event.
 
Despite her frustrations with her game, her comfort level should be quite high.
 
Not only will she be commuting from her home in Lake Nona, she is sponsored by Ginn Clubs & Resorts, and is about to put her name on a golf and fitness academy at the tournament host site, Reunion Resort and Club.
 
The womens world No. 1 will be teeing off Thursday morning alongside No. 3, Paula Creamer ' someone who knows exactly what Sorenstam is feeling at the moment.
 
Creamer, like Sorenstam, isnt overly pleased with her start to the season, having yet to win in seven events.
 
It seems like Ive had three good days, and every tournament Ive always had one bad round or something didnt work properly, she said.
 
I get anxious out there and I want to win, and I miss that feeling of winning and I think that has a little to do with it.
 
At the moment, the 19-year-old is dealing with the burden of expectation ' not just her own, but the expectations of others in relation to her. Shes no longer a teenage rookie fresh out of high school; shes a 19-year-old, multiple tour winner, who expects and is expected to challenge every week.
 
The pressure was more from myself last year. Its a little different now, she said. People have their expectations of what they expect me to do, and I think that I have to just forget about that and do what I want to do.
 
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer has three top-10 finishes in seven starts this season.
I expect myself to do well. If I did it last year, no reason why I cant do it again this year. I worked as hard in the off-season as the year before, if not harder. At the same time, I cant force things and I have to just let it happen. I think that, you know, once I get on a roll, I think its going to be for a long stretch.
 
Creamer didnt compete in Wednesdays pro-am, citing dehydration as the reason for her withdrawal. Its easy to see why she may feel a bit rundown at times. Shes one of the most marketable players on tour, as evidenced by the fact that she shares the cover of this years tour media guide with Sorenstam. There is much demand on her time off the course, with countless interviews and photo shoots.
 
Creamer accepts and appreciates all of the outside interest. But she tries to make sure that it doesnt interfere with her job.
 
I think everything revolves around how you play. If you dont play good and dont post a score, then those things are not going to be happening, she said. Lately I havent been playing that great, but I dont think its because of what I do off the course. I know its very important to practice and get my time in with my golf. If that becomes a problem with stuff off the course then well take care of that.
 
Creamer is beginning a six-week stretch of golf that will take her next week to Japan, where she twice won a year ago, and where she has a calendar coming out next year.
 
She hopes to get some momentum going this week. She believes her grouping with Sorenstam over the first two days will only help that cause.
 
I think when I get paired with Annika, I definitely focus a lot harder. I dont know what it is. Its not like I dont focus hard when Im without her, but its Annika, and you want to play well when youre playing with her, Creamer said.
 
Sorenstam, likewise, has said that she enjoys the challenge of competing head-on against Creamer. But she knows that just by beating the player who may be her chief rival over the coming years doesnt guarantee victory.
 
You have to remember that there are a lot of good players out here. The depth is there and the talent is there, and you cant forget that, Sorenstam said.
 
Even though you write more things about certain players doesnt mean they are better players. Its tough out here.
 
And as for the fact that this is ' remarkably so ' just the second time in the last six years that she has played four tournaments to start a season without netting multiple victories, Sorenstam isnt about to hit the panic button just yet.
 
'Right now its too early in the season I think, for me, to even think about it,' she said. After 20, 30 tournaments, maybe then we can look at it and evaluate a little bit.'
 
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