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Annika's a Cut Above

Sorenstam won't be around for the weekend at Colonial, but her impact there will be felt across two tours and possibly into the mainstream.

May 24, 2003

FORT WORTH — Jeffrey Trimmer is now a fan of Annika Sorenstam. Jeffrey is 9 years old and had never seen a woman play in a golf tournament until Friday afternoon when he leaned against the ropes at the ninth hole at Colonial Country Club, straining to catch a glimpse of the best female player in the world.

It didn't matter much to Jeffrey that Sorenstam was the first woman in nearly six decades to be playing in a PGA Tour event. It didn't matter much to Jeffrey what many others saw, a male-female thing. What mattered to Jeffrey, the thing that he was thinking about, was golf.

Jeffrey sure did like Sorenstam.

"Because she can drive it far," he explained.

It's hard to argue with a 9-year-old, especially in this case, because Jeffrey is correct. For what amounted to a two-day trip at the Bank of America Colonial tournament, Sorenstam drove a long way.

Six months ago, despite her 42 victories on the LPGA Tour and the place waiting for her in the Hall of Fame, Sorenstam wasn't exactly a household name in a lot of places other than her native Stockholm.

But by the time she left town Friday night, after 36 holes and 145 shots at Colonial, Sorenstam is the hottest story in golf, and maybe a few other places as well.

Yes, she missed the cut, and no, she didn't play as well as she expected, but that's missing the point.

What Sorenstam accomplished cannot be defined by a number written on a scorecard or the fact that she was tied for 96th after two rounds.

The sum of what Sorenstam managed to do could be seen on the face of Jeffrey Trimmer and the thousands of others who wore "Go Annika" buttons or begged for her autograph or greeted her like some kind of rock star when her name was announced at the first tee.

This was a happening. What Sorenstam did was put the women's tour back on the map, something she couldn't do despite dominating the LPGA Tour.

No one in golf has seen anything like this since, well, can we mention Tiger Woods?

Ty Votaw, the commissioner of the LPGA, should send a private jet for Sorenstam to make sure she shows up at every women's tournament the rest of the year and next year too.

The reason is simple. Just as Woods makes every event in which he plays more relevant than any other, the same may hold true for Sorenstam on the LPGA Tour.

There are Sorenstam tournaments and there are the rest. Now, that's power.

It may be no accident that the agent who represents Tiger also deals the cards in Sorenstam's behalf, which makes Mark Steinberg of IMG either the most fortunate agent in recent sports history or the most prescient.

Chances are, for client and agent, it's all a matter of good timing. Sorenstam's innovative and bold entry into the chauvinistic realm of men's golf satisfied not only the standards of consumption by the mainstream public, but it also touched a nerve in sports fans as well.

It was viewed as a good time, a spirited adventure, at least by most of Sorenstam's male peers and nearly everyone else. It was also a welcome departure from the negative tone associated with golf's most recent gender-bending experience that was played out at the Masters amid police, protesters and press.

Sorenstam herself was most responsible for constructing that impression. She was unfailingly gracious, polite and charming, which are qualities some on the PGA Tour could use on occasion.

On the course, Sorenstam smiled. She swooned playfully. She traded high-fives from her playing partners. One time, when she watched her ball carom off a bank at the green and bounce toward the hole, she mouthed the words, "How lucky can I get?"

The truth is, Sorenstam made her own luck, through dedication to her craft, hard work and guts. She risked much and won it all back. When she knew she had missed the cut, Sorenstam was still on top of her game, revealing more of herself than many knew even existed.

She thanked the fans. She thanked the players on the PGA Tour and said she held no grudges against anyone who deemed her out of place. She said she hoped she had been a role model for young girls and boys who had dreams to follow.

Sorenstam said she was grateful for the chance to play on the men's tour, and even though she said she wouldn't do it again, she felt privileged nonetheless.

The reason her short game wasn't so great Friday was because she lost the feeling in her hands. Sorenstam said that's always what happens when she gets nervous.

Next time, she said, she'll do a lot better.

Jeffrey Trimmer and his friends will be waiting.



Sorenstam's Stats

How Annika Sorenstam fared through her two rounds in the Colonial. Sorenstam finished five over for the tournament. The cut line was one over:


Number of Birdies -- 2

Number of Pars -- 27

Number of Bogeys -- 7

Other scores -- 0


Par 3s -- Even

Par 5s -- Even

Par 4s -- 5 over

FAIRWAYS -- 85.7%

24 of 28 Tied for 3rd in field

ON THE GREENS -- 66.7%

24 of 36 Tied for 53rd in field

One-putts -- 10

Three-putts -- 4


Less than 5 feet -- 96.5% (28/29)

5-10 feet -- 55.5% (5/9)

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