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THE SHORT STUFF

Agent Calls This a 'Win-Win' Deal

May 22, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

FORT WORTH — It has been a whirlwind 10 days for agent Mark Steinberg, who was in Germany last week with his client Tiger Woods, and now he's with Annika Sorenstam here in Fantasyland.

"When she decided in January that she wanted to play a PGA Tour event, I had no idea it would turn out like this," said Steinberg, who has managed Sorenstam's career at IMG for 10 years.

It's Steinberg's view that Sorenstam will benefit from playing the Bank of America Colonial.

"It's a win-win," he said. "As you see what's going on, here, on '60 Minutes,' on Leno, on the 'Today' show, you realize there's no downside. From the sofa, people recognize Annika now. Six months ago, Annika's name probably wouldn't have elicited a response."

The worst-case scenario for Sorenstam -- missing the cut -- won't be a problem for her at all, Steinberg says.

"I think people would give her a standing ovation and say, 'Good job.' She's got guts. And I think the increased exposure, the unbelievable media hype and attention will keep the window of interest open a lot longer."

Steinberg also said he is all but certain that Sorenstam will not play another PGA Tour event.

"Whether she finishes 29th or 99th," he said.

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A piece of Sorenstamania can be had for a price. An autographed 2003 Upper Deck trading card of Sorenstam that also has two swatches of her shirt and a swatch of her cap on the card went for $400 recently on EBay. Without the autograph, the card is available for $279.

A Colonial flag signed by Sorenstam is posted for sale on EBay for $750. You can also buy a round green button with the words "Go Annika." The highest bid so far is $22.50. It costs $3 in the pro shop at Colonial.

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Sorenstamania's influence is also seen online, in such places as ESPN.com, which is running a poll asking what Sorenstam's greatest challenge will be at the Colonial.

The options are, 600 media members tracking her every move; pressure to advance women's sports; length of course; PGA Tour pin placement.

Somehow left out was the obvious option, the curse applied by Vijay Singh.

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David Toms stayed at arm's length of the Sorenstam situation and her appearance at Colonial.

"I don't like to get beat by anybody," Toms said. "To be beaten by a woman, I don't know that it really matters. She's another player in the field. That hasn't even entered my mind at all.

"It's a good question. I don't know how the rest of the guys feel about it."

Sorenstam has one of 12 sponsor's exemptions at Colonial and Toms was asked about that.

"I don't have any problems. How does it affect me? It doesn't. Does it affect the last guy that would have been in the field who would have a sponsor's exemption? Maybe that's the guy. She's obviously good enough to where people think that she can contribute something to this field. I wish her luck."

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Woods, Davis Love III and Mike Weir -- none of whom are playing this week at the Colonial -- are three-time winners this year. The last time there were three four-time winners on the PGA Tour was in 1973, when Jack Nicklaus won seven times and Tom Weiskopf and Bruce Crampton won four.

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It wasn't a particularly good week for Seve Ballesteros, who was reprimanded by the European PGA Tour for changing his scorecard and fined an undisclosed amount.

Ballesteros, winner of five majors, didn't sign his card at the Italian Open because he was protesting a one-shot penalty for slow play. The fine was for saying that European tour officials had a vendetta against him.

Ballesteros had said the European tour officials were "waging war" against him and called them the "mafia."

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