All Eyes on Ms 59


PHOENIX -- Its Week 2 of the 2003 LPGA season and the tours No. 1 player can now focus on playing with the women, not the men.
Annika Sorenstam is competing in an LPGA tournament for the first time since winning the 2002 season-ending ADT Championship in November. That was Annikas 11th LPGA win of the year; add the two Ladies European Tour victories she garnered and that equals 13 wins in just 25 starts worldwide.
After dominating her female counterparts so thoroughly, the question in the off-season became, Annika, would you like to play against the men?
Of course, we all know what has transpired since Sorenstam answered, Yes.
But now, the Swedes focus is back on her tour and this weeks Safeway Ping tournament in Phoenix. Im very excited about competing again, said Sorenstam. Ive been relaxing, practicing, exercising and now Im ready to play.
For the past two months, Annika has been in the midst of media mania swirling around her entrance into the PGA Tours Bank Colonial of America event in May. But Sorenstam says the golf worlds focus on her and Colonial has not distracted her from focusing on playing her own tour.
If anything, its made me focus even more,' sahe said. 'Ive been playing from the tips (mens pro tees) and challenging myself to keep improving. I think that will really help me on our tour, especially at the majors, where the courses are longer.
Speaking of 'longer,' while speculating on what might happen at Colonial, Annika says shes probably hitting the ball longer now than her 2002 average of 265 yards off the tee. Im probably hitting it a little more than 270, which is about how far I was hitting it at the end of last year, she said.
So, as we focus on this week and not Colonial ' what might happen here? Well, how about another 59 at the Moon Valley Country Club? Annika posted that record score here two years ago; and after last week on the LPGA, another 59 seems well within the realm of possibility.
Last week in Tucson, Wendy Doolan, the eventual winner, shot a 61. Meg Mallon posted a 60. You know, theres the possibility of someone out here breaking 60 every week, said Mallon. I was with Annika when she shot 59 here and when the hole starts looking as big as a bucket, like it did with her, a 59 could happen any day.
There are so many good players out here now, said this weeks defending champion, Rachel Teske. Sure, I expect someone else to break 60 I just hope its me.
Annika plays a red Callaway ball with 59 imprinted on it. After watching the incredibly low scoring last week, Sorenstam says, it just shows how good the girls have gotten I think we could see a 59 this week and maybe other weeks this year. All of this great scoring is so exciting and I think its good for the game.
It could be a busy year for the keepers of the LPGA record book.