Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Swede gets a damp start to her big week at Colonial

REUTERS , FORT WORTH, TEXAS

Annika Sorenstam's introduction to tournament golf on the PGA Tour was short and wet on Tuesday.

Sorenstam, the world's leading female golfer, began her practice round at the par-70 Colonial Country Club in the rain with fellow Swede Jesper Parnevik and Spain's Sergio Garcia, the 2001 champion.

Sorenstam, the first woman in 58 years to play against men in a PGA event, hit only three shots on the par-five first hole before calling it a morning as the rain became heavier and thunder postponed practice.

"I'm doing this to test myself, and I didn't think everybody else wanted to test me at the same time," said Sorenstam to the more than 600 members of the media at a news conference afterwards.

Sorenstam's first practice hole proved to be a real test.

She pushed her tee shot on the first into the right rough and then played back to the fairway.

From 190 yards, her approach was short and right of the green, something that she may have to get used to this week.

At 7,080 yards, the par-70 Colonial Country Club course will be more than 600 yards longer than a typical LPGA course.

While Sorenstam will be hitting seven-woods on many of her approaches to the par-fours, the rest of the field will be hitting five- and six-irons.

"I got to think positive, and I am positive about my game," she said. "I feel like I'm playing as good as I have all year."

Unfortunately, Sorenstam's 2003 campaign has not been like her record-setting 2002 when she won 11 times on the LPGA Tour plus two worldwide victories.

In five events in 2003, Sorenstam has managed to win just once on the tour, at the Office Depot Championship, though she also won the Nichirei Cup World Ladies in Japan last week.

"I feel like I'm hitting the ball as good as I have in a long time," Sorenstam said. "I feel like I'm peaking at the right time and very thrilled about being here."

While confident, she is realistic about her chances.

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