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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 12:46 GMT
All hail Queen Annika
Tiger and Annika: Golf's king and queen
Tiger and Annika: Smiles better than their peers

After winning five titles, two of them Majors, and nearly $7m in prize money, Tiger Woods could be forgiven for assuming he is once more the golfer of the year.

Well, he would be wrong, because as good as 'the phenom' has been, somebody else has been better.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Annika Sorenstam, women's number one and our vote for golfer of 2002.

At the end of Sorenstam's almost as impressive 2001, main LPGA rival Karrie Webb said: "I can tell you now, I will eat my hat if [Sorenstam] wins eight tournaments a year every year from now on."

  Annika Sorenstam
Height: 5ft 6in
Birthdate: 9/10/1970
Birthplace: Stockholm
Residence: Incline Village, Nevada, and Stockholm
2002 LPGA earnings: $2,863, 904
Karrie, how would you like your hat served? Sorenstam won 13 titles worldwide this year, 11 on the LPGA Tour.

For Sorenstam's 2002, read Woods' red-letter year of 2000.

Woods scooped three Majors that year - before adding a fourth straight at the 2001 Masters - and won nine of the PGA 20 events he played.

Victorious in almost half the LPGA tournaments she played this year, Sorenstam only finished outside the top 10 in three of the 23 events she entered.

Woods won five of the 18 PGA tournaments he started in 2002, finishing outside the top 10 five times.

Tiger's haul brought him a cool $6,912,625 in winnings, Annika earned $2,863,904.

LPGA Tour golfer of the year Annika Sorenstam
Sorenstam with her fifth Player of Year award
And women tennis players think they have it bad when it comes to prize money.

Factor in Woods' sponsorship deals and Sorenstam starts to look like a charity case in comparison.

But while Woods can point to a better stroke average - 68.56 versus 68.70 - Sorenstam's domination of women's golf this year has been far more complete than Woods' of the men's game.

The softly-spoken Swede set or equalled 20 LPGA records this season and has now won a total of 42 tour titles.

As well as the 11 victories, there were two second-placed finishes, three thirds, a fourth and a fifth.

If there was one small blot on Sorenstam's 2002 report card, it was her part in Europe's Solheim Cup defeat in September.

As the world number one, much was expected from Sorenstam in Minnesota. But a poor performance against America's Wendy Ward in the last day's singles brought only a half point when a whole point was desperately needed.

Tiger Woods in Ryder Cup action at The Belfry
Woods cut a dejected figure at The Belfry
That said, Sorenstam contributed three and a half out of a possible five points to the European cause, and her all-round display was vastly superior to Woods' erratic and distracted performance at the Ryder Cup.

So what can her rivals expect from the superlative Swede next year?

If her response to this year is anything like her response to last year they should get used to playing for runners-up cheques.

"I set goals for myself, not for anybody else. I know what I'm capable of," said Sorenstam last month.

"Last year was a wonderful year but I was determined to prove that I could do it again or even better.

"I knew I wasn't there yet, and I figured if I worked out harder and longer I would see some better results. That's what happened this year."

It sounds as though Karrie Webb can look forward to another hat supper this time next year.

See also:

28 Nov 02 | Golf
24 Nov 02 | Golf
11 Nov 02 | Golf
17 Jun 02 | US Open
14 Apr 02 | US Masters
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