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Colonial By The Numbers

Annika Sorenstam may feel a bit overwhelmed. Nick Price may be overlooked. And Vijay Singh might have been overly criticized for being honest.
All in all, this weeks Bank of America Colonial may be over the top.
It all started late last year when Sorenstam was questioned as to whether she would play in a PGA Tour event if offered an invitation.
She said yes.
It began to build when she formally announced her decision, in February, to compete at Colonial Country Club, and become the first woman since Babe Zaharias, in 1945, to play in a PGA Tour event.
Media coverage and controversy converged to create a boulder rolling full steam, downhill in the direction of Ft. Worth, Texas.
But, for once, well focus on the event itself: Whos won it and what it takes to win.
This is the 56th edition of the Colonial, played at the 7,080-yard, par-70 venue dubbed Hogans Alley. Ben Hogan won the first two years the tournament was contested, in 1946 and 47, and claimed the title three more times thereafter.
Multiple winners are commonplace at Colonial. In addition to the Hawk, seven others have won this event on more than one occasion.
Price was the last to accomplish that feat. He put his name on the trophy first in 1994 and again last year. Price defeated David Toms and Kenny Perry by five shots to prevail a year ago.
And how did he do it? Driving accuracy; the statistic that has proven to be quite telling over the years at Colonial. And the area that may enable Annika to make the cut.
Colonial is a tight, doglegged layout, demanding precision. The kind of accuracy that helped push Price into the Hall of Fame.
Sorenstam will never be able to match the boys in the power department. Her driving average this year is an impressive 275.4 yards per pop. Thats good for second on the LPGA Tour, but it would rank her outside the top 150 on the PGA Tour.
On the other hand, her driving accuracy is 73.8 percent. That puts her in the top 40 on the LPGA (she was 5th a year ago) and near the top 10 on the mens circuit.
She also leads the women in greens hit in regulation, at a 76.5 rate. Such a percentage would also top the mens list.
And its in those two latter categories where the textbook Colonial winner does well.
Since 1980, the champion has an average tournament rank of 31.74 in driving distance, 11.78 in driving accuracy, and 8.57 in greens hit in regulation.
In that time frame, 16 of the 23 winners have ranked better that week in accuracy than in power. And 18 have done better in hitting greens in regulations than in the distance department.
Many have compared Sorenstam to the light hitting, but straight driving Corey Pavin, who won this event in 1985 and '96. When Pavin won his second Colonial title, he was 71st (out of 76 who made the cut) in the tournament in length, seventh in finding the fairways, and third in reaching the greens in regulation.
In 85, his tournament ranks read: 60th in distance, fourth in accuracy, third in G.I.R.
You might think that accuracy would normally be the dominating factor, at least in comparison to distance, in determining who wins on a weekly basis. But not in 2003.
Thus far this year, 14 of the 19 stroke-play winners on the PGA Tour have fared better in distance than in accuracy the week they won -- in terms of their tournament ranks -- including Vijay Singh in the EDS Byron Nelson Classic.
And, six times, the winner has done a better job of launching the ball off the tee than he did in reaching the green successfully.
Its around the greens, not off the tee, that may well determine Sorenstams fate. The Swede is averaging nearly 30 putts per round on the LPGA. Her 29.88 mark has her ranked just outside the top 60 on the LPGA. Such a number would have her outside the top 175 on the PGA Tour.
Related Links:
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page
  • Annika and the Colonial Timeline
  • Full Coverage of the Bank of America Colonial