Perfect Start to Annikas Season


I received my Media Gate Pass, which gets me on the grounds and initial parking at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, thus allowing me to collect my full set of credentials for the upcoming Invitational tournament.
Since tournament officials mailed out the pass, I can only assume that they are going ahead as scheduled with this weeks event.
I guess they have to dole out $4.6 million to the 70-odd players who make the cut, and then let them bat it around to see who gets what.
The actual purse for the Bay Hill Invitational is $5.5 million. But we already know who is taking 900-grand off the top.
At least thats the way it seems if you listen to all the little voices in and around the world of golf.
Apparently, Tiger Woods will never lose another golf tournament. People are wondering if he can be stopped. People are declaring 2006 a revival of a season six years prior. People are not only ready to hand him the green jacket, but give him sole possession of all four major trophies.
People are going a bit overboard. Just a bit.
I consider myself a Tiger fan. Not the kind of person who paints orange and black stripes on his face and roots for him over everyone else, but the kind of person who has great admiration for the way he performs on the course and the way he handles himself off of it.
Still, I dont think that Tiger is invincible. At least not just yet. There are still a few crooked parts in his game that he needs to straighten out. And when he does ' and I believe whole heartedly that he will ' then Ill drink the Tiger Woods Kool-Aid.
Woods has played five times this year and has won on three occasions. I wasnt a math major, but I think that means that he has lost twice this season. And he will lose again.
As for Annika Sorenstam, Im not so certain.
I realize that there is no way Annika can go 20-for-20 this year. But every time I watch her play, I just cant see any possible way that she can lose.
Shes longer and straighter than just about every other woman and girl. Shes definitely tougher mentally than the rest of them. And if she has just an average week on the greens, shes damn-near unbeatable.
She just won her 67th career LPGA Tour event this past week in Mexico. And, for the fourth time in her last six victories, she did so by making bogey or worse on her final hole. That just shows that shes so good that she rarely needs late heroics to win.
She reminds me of Tiger Woods 2000, in that every time she competes I believe that she will win. Only this feeling is nothing new; it has been lingering for years.
When I was at last years Corning Classic, Sorenstam stood on the far left side of the range ' actually in the rough on the adjacent ninth hole because the practice area was so small.
But watching her hit alongside her peers was an eye-opening experience. The ball just made a different sound coming off the face of her driver; it traveled in an almost majestic trajectory.
It looked like ' and I mean this as a true compliment ' that she was a man hitting next to a bunch of girls.
Its almost a shame that shes not a man; then Woods would have a true rival. Or perhaps I should wish Woods to be a woman.
Or perhaps I should stop thinking of either scenario, because it's just too weird and I can't afford therapy.
But imagine if Woods and Sorenstam ' in slacks or skirts ' competed against one another, year-in and year-out, on a level playing field ' at least in terms of length.
It would be among the greatest rivalries in any sport of any era.
Of course, that will never happen. Not unless we see one hell of an episode of 'Extreme Makeover.'
Instead, we have to settle for Woods beating up on his PGA TOUR brethren on a fairly regular basis, and Sorenstam doing the same to the gals on the LPGA ' but on an even more frequent basis.
While Woods returns to action at Bay Hill following a bye week, Sorenstam will try and continue her bullying tactics at the Safeway International, a tournament that she has won three times, including two straight. She will then compete in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a tournament that she has also won three times, including last year. After that, its likely the Atlanta Charity Championship, a tournament shes twice won, including last year.
She may very well win all three of those tournaments yet again.
But it's not like she's going to go undefeated this season. Right?
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -MasterCard Classic