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OK., experiment time. What are the odds that I can spend an entire morning with the most dominant athlete in the country--in public, no disguises--without that athlete being hailed, photographed or bugged for a single signed napkin?
The athlete? Annika Sorenstam, of course, who is doing to women's golf what the boll weevil did to the South. She just tied Nancy Lopez's record of five straight LPGA wins with her eight-shot victory in the Nabisco Championship on Sunday. She just won her fifth major out of the last eight. She's won 36 times since the 2001 season began. Nobody's won that much since Mickey Wright and Kathy Whitworth beat fields full of P.E. instructors in the 1960s.
9:05 a.m. I greet Sorenstam in the coffee shop at the JW Marriott in Denver. Already done with her 1,000 crunches for the day, she's wearing her logo-laden golf hat and sweater. Yet the waiter doesn't even blink twice. In the lobby we meet one of her managers, David Livingston. People are everywhere, yet they walk by her as if she's Ms. Nadine Nobody.
9:32 a.m. We go to the headquarters of a huge grocery-store chain, where she'll do a meet-and-greet with company honchos. She is stopped on her way into the offices. "Ma'am," says the security guard, "do you have a visitor's badge?"
Sorenstam actually prefers her Annika-nymity. When she was a kid, she'd purposely finish second in tournaments to avoid having to make a speech. This winter, at her home in Lake Tahoe, a burly guy knocked at the door and Sorenstam answered.
"Oh, uh, hi," he said, startled. "Hey, does anyone ever tell you that you look a lot like Annika Sorenstam?"
"Who?" said Annika Sorenstam.
"It's a golfer who supposedly lives around here."
"Can I blow your roof?"