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Annikas Mentor Smiling Broadly

FT. WORTH, Texas -- Pia Nilsson knew Annika Sorenstam had the game to do well at Colonial Country Club. What she didnt know, couldnt know until Sorenstam actually got into battle during the Bank of America Colonial, was if her pupil would recall all the lessons that Nilsson has taught her in the last 15 years.
So, she naturally was beaming after Thursdays first round of play.
Im just happy because, like she said, she wants to test herself under extreme conditions ' if she can still do it. Which she did! she said, smiling an ear-to-ear grin. Nilsson was the coach of the Swedish National Federation team which Sorenstam was on as a teen-ager.
So Im ' like ' super happy. I saw her after about three holes and I said, She can handle it today.
And, she said, she saw the Annika that she has known since Sorenstam was a teen. This was very typical Annika-fashion, she said. No matter what, she can keep her tempo and make her decisions and go though with it. She was nervous all the way around, but shes a master at managing her emotions, managing her thoughts.
Nilsson was with Annika before her round began, and they both were a picture of happiness. But Nilsson reminded Sorenstam of something that Annika said before. Now was the time to put words into action.
I was just reminding her that a couple of months ago, she said, I dont know what Im going to shoot and I dont know if Im going to make the cut, but if I can walk off the 18th green knowing that every shot I made my decision and had the guts to go through with it, Im going to be proud no matter what, said Nilsson.
I just reminded her of that. I told her that no matter what happens here, shes already a winner.
Sorenstam has been this way since she was a kid, Nilsson said. Its the consistency that Nilsson sees that has set Soresnstam apart from the rest.
Some golfers wait until they get in slumps and play badly and then they go a sports psychologist, she said. With Annika, she knows its more of building blocks on the way. Thats why you see her so consistent so often. Shes physically fit to be consistent, but shes able to manage all her emotions.
This day was similar to another day, a day when Nilsson watched her famous protg shoot a 59 during an LPGA event. This was almost as great, though in a different sort of way.
Fifty-nine is like an historical mark, said Nilsson. When she finally was able to do, she said, Now 54 is possible.
She dares to do it.
Nilsson used the word spectacular frequently. This was a day that called for the word.
Today, this is pressure thats been building for months and months and months and more and more attention, she said. Its been building more than shes ever experienced. That she can be herself and play her game is fantastic.
Related Links:
  • Full-field scores from the Bank of America Colonial
  • Full coverage of the Bank of America Colonial
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page