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FROM THE Back Tees
Seth Davis
May 26, 2003
After the heated, and often silly, debate over her playing the Colonial, Annika Sorenstam is at last ready to test herself against the men
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May 26, 2003

From The Back Tees

After the heated, and often silly, debate over her playing the Colonial, Annika Sorenstam is at last ready to test herself against the men

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How, then, will this one woman play? Most of the speculation has focused on Sorenstam's length, and she will probably be at the greatest disadvantage on her approach shots. Unlike the longer PGA Tour players, who can get close to Colonial's tucked pins by hitting short irons with a high trajectory and plenty of spin, Sorenstam will have to hit a lot of long irons and fairway metals, which means her approaches will have a lower flight and less spin. She therefore figures to aim for the middle of the greens, which are smaller and firmer than the ones she is accustomed to playing. David Frost, the 1997 Colonial champ, who played with Sorenstam during the March practice round, says she will have to play "flawlessly" to make the cut. Judy Rankin, the LPGA Hall of Famer who covers both men's and women's tournaments for ABC, is also skeptical. "If she were playing one guy, anybody can beat anybody," Rankin says. "Playing the field is another story."

For a truer test of her abilities, Sorenstam would be better off playing in more than one event. (The PGA Tour allows a player to accept seven sponsor's exemptions per year.) But she knows she would be subjected to even more criticism from the PGA Tour players and be accused of abandoning the LPGA Sorenstam says she has no plans to play in any more men's events. "I don't think people grasp that this is a personal test for Annika," says her agent, Mark Steinberg. "For anyone to say she's doing this for publicity is comical, because everyone knows that Annika doesn't love publicity."

As for how he believes Sorenstam will do, Steinberg says, "I don't think Annika is dead set on having her score be the definitive answer on that." But if Sorenstam has learned anything over the last few weeks, it is this: While she may look at the Colonial as a personal test, she won't be the only one deciding whether she passed or failed.

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