Until now her methods had been quiet. In '02 she showed up at Interlachen Country Club, outside Minneapolis, one day before her European teammates for the Solheim Cup, the Ryder Cup for women. She wanted to practice. She was told she could not, that she was too early. So she put her clubs in the car without a temper tantrum, drove to another club, Hazeltine National, and asked if she could practice there. The club was happy to have her. Before long a crowd had gathered to watch her. She put on her usual exhibition of straightness. When she was done at the range, she signed autographs, chitchatted with the members, won over a bunch of new fans.
Last November, Sorenstam was playing in the LPGA's season finale, the ADT Championship, held at the Trump International Golf Club, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sorenstam was desperate to win the tournament because it would give her 13 wins for the season, 11 on the LPGA tour, two on the European tour. In 1963 Mickey Wright, the golfer Hogan said had the best swing he ever saw, won 13 events, all LPGA tournaments, the tour record for wins in a year. A win wouldn't give Sorenstam a piece of the official record, except in her mind, but that was enough for her. Donald Trump, who played in the pro-am with Sorenstam, followed the Swede up and down his man-made hills. For any serious golfer, watching Sorenstam's golf up close is mesmerizing. She swings like a metronome, straight up and down, with perfect timing. Of course she won.
"Don't you think," somebody asked Trump, "she could do more to sell herself?" Sorenstam is an attractive woman, but her clothes, her body language, her overall look are almost willfully bland.
Normally, the real-estate mogul devours such questions. He is an expert salesman: bright lights, waterfalls, short-skirted cocktail waitresses at his casinos. Not this time. "That wouldn't be Annika," he said. "Her whole thing is to be the best golfer she can be. That's what motivates her. She's not interested in anything that gets in the way."
That includes close personal relationships with her fellow golfers. She has friends on tour, mostly fellow Swedes, but she hangs out with nobody, including her sister. "In the six years I've been out here, we've never had a meal together," says Rachel Teske. "She and David do their own thing. She's perfectly pleasant, but who her friends are I couldn't say."
Still, the LPGA sisterhood is behind Sorenstam as she sets her sights on the Colonial. They figure it can only do their tour good.
In a sense her invitation to play in a men's event has been years in the making. Sorenstam has always watched the men on TV and has often wondered how her game measures up. Last year she was at the Masters as a spectator, although she played the course once from the back tees and shot 74. In 1996 Sorenstam attended the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, the same tournament won by Woods on Sunday. In '96 she was the reigning U.S. Women's Open champion, but as she strolled along among hundreds of golf fans, not a single person seemed to recognize her. She watched Davis Love III, who would ultimately win the tournament, play a hole. He skied his drive, topped his second, holed his third for an eagle. She shook her head. "My goodness," she said, "they hit some very poor shots." Those guys are good but far from perfect.
Now she's three months away from making her PGA Tour debut. She knows she doesn't have to be perfect to make a good show of it. If she does what she can do—drive the ball straight, knock it on the green, minimize her mistakes—she'll be right there with the big boys. She'll show the fellas what a woman with a will, an opportunity and 14 sticks can do. She'll leave the talking to the men in the booth.
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