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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 23:31 GMT
Sorenstam accepts PGA invite
Annika Sorenstam
Sorenstam was the 2002 LPGA Player of the Year
Annika Sorenstam will become the first woman to play on the PGA Tour in 58 years after accepting an exemption to play in The Colonial.

"There were many invitations, but the golf course and schedule of the Colonial were ideal," said the 32-year-old Swede.

"For all the well-wishers who want to know why I would accept such a challenge the answer is simple: I am curious to see if I can compete in a PGA Tour event."

Annika Sorenstam
Height: 5ft 6in
Birthdate: 9/10/1970
Birthplace: Stockholm
Residence: Incline Village, Nevada, and Stockholm
2002 LPGA earnings: $2,863, 904

The Colonial is held in Fort Worth, Texas, from 22-25 May.

Sorenstam, the women's number one, won 13 times around the world last year and shattered the LPGA Tour scoring average.

Her main stipulation about playing against men has been to compete on a course that does not require power off the tee. The Colonial is 7,080 yards (par 70) and puts a premium on accuracy.

Tiger Woods, the top-ranked male golfer, said: "I think it is great she is playing, but it will only be great for women's golf if she plays well.

"If she goes out there and puts up two high scores, then I don't think it is going to be. It is going to be more detrimental than it is going to be good.

I am as curious as anybody to see how the best player on the LPGA and possibly of all-time will play against the men

Phil Mickelson
"I think it all depends on the golf course and how they set it up. If they set up the pins in the corners where they are hard to get to, then you have to have a lot of spin and hit the ball high.

"She might have more of a conservative game plan and just dump the ball in the middle of the green."

Phil Mickelson, the men's number three, said if there was a course suited to Sorenstam's game, it is Colonial.

"I think it is great," Mickelson said. "I am as curious as anybody to see how the best player on the LPGA and possibly of all-time will play against the men.

"It is not like she is a slouch. She is one of the best ball-strikers and putters in the game."

By playing in The Colonial, Sorenstam will steal Suzy Whaley's thunder, as the Connecticut club pro has said she will play in the Greater Hartford Open in July.

Whaley qualified by winning a PGA of America sectional tournament, even though she was allowed to compete from a shorter set of tees.

Britain's Laura Davies, another woman who has competed against men, believes Sorenstam would not struggle against men.

Davies said she thought the Solheim Cup star could "comfortably" make the cut in a men's competition.

"But knowing her, she wouldn't be satisfied with making the cut, she would want to win it too," she added.

The last woman to play a PGA Tour event was Babe Zaharias who qualified for the 1945 Los Angeles Open.

She made the 36-hole cut before a 79 knocked her out of the final round.

See also:

06 Dec 02 | Golf
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