That quieted a lot of worry and gnashing of teeth from the general populace whove come to believe Sorenstam will win every time she enters ' or at the least, every other time. In her first tournament this year, she dawdled around to tie for third. In the next, she could do no better than finish second. The nerve of her!
But everyone can pipe down now. She has won again. She went through the field at the Office Depot to win by four strokes. For those who think her whole season rides on May 18-June 1, when she will tee it up with the men of the PGA Tour, she is again in step. She is batting one-for-three, and that is exactly where she was last year ' she won one of her first three, won her second in her fourth time out.
Actually, one-for-three is about what shes done the last three seasons. Shes played 70 times the last three years on the LPGA and won 24 times ' 73 and 25, if you count this season. She won two more times on the Ladies European Tour in three tries last year, so she won exactly half the time ' 13 victories in 26 events ' she entered.
It gets pretty amazing when you add in her runner-up or third-place finishes. In those 26 tournaments, she finished in the top three 20 times.
If Tiger Woods had done that well on the PGA Tour, he would have finished in the top three in 14 of the 18 tournaments he played. Battling an injured knee, Tiger finished in the top-three nine times ' 11 in you count the two European Tour events he played. That certainly isnt to be perceived as a slap at Woods, merely to emphasize what Sorenstam has done. She is in contention for the title week after week after week.
Its amazing, isnt it, when you consider the Se Ri Paks and Karrie Webbs that have to be accommodated, too.
You have to remember that the other players are getting better, said Sorenstam, so I am not the only one who is hungry.
Of course, to step on the first tee and think I have to win 14 times to have a better season ' thats a lot of pressure. I love to win, but my No. 1 goal is to be a better player. I can control that. I cant control what other players do or how they play.
Shes only 5-feet-6, small by modern-athlete standards. Gym workouts the last year have left her strong, though. Woman who want to compete with her have to get a lot stronger, or they will be left further and further behind. This train is leaving the station, and if you dont get on board now, the only thing youll see is the caboose.
We all have to work more hard, says Pak in her delightfully fractured English, because she is much stronger and everyone thinks about it (the conditioning) more. She is always consistent and she is mentally stronger on the course. At the same time, I work harder and have more confidence ' pretty good things.
Yes, indeed, pretty good things. But Sorenstam believes pretty good things mean shooting 54, the ultimate as far as she is concerned. Is it possible? No, of course not. Is it possible for Annika? Yes, it is, says Sorenstam.
I believe I can 18 greens, she says, every fairway. You know, Vision 54, which means you birdie every hole. Thats in the back of my mind.
I want to putt better, chip better. That day when I hit 18 greens and one putt, Ill know Im a complete player.
If it ever happens, she will be as good the best player on the PGA Tour, notwithstanding Mr. Woods. But she has a long way to go, as her 68, 72 and 71 last week suggests. Nary a 54 among those scores. But ' her career isnt over, not by a long shot, she suggests.
Will that ever happen? she asks rhetorically. Im not sure, but its possible.