The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Women’s turn to do the talking

London: Some are envious, some are full of admiration and some are just a little scared that she might blow it when she challenges the men.

What is clear, though, is that every one of Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA peers holds an opinion about the Swede’s appearance at next week’s Colonial tournament, where she will become the first woman to play a PGA Tour event since 1945.

Britain’s Laura Davies, who has played in several specially staged events alongside the men, says she would have relished the chance to compete on the PGA Tour when at the peak of her own powers in the mid-1990s.

“I’m 100 per cent behind Annika,” said Davies, one of the biggest hitters in the women’s game.

“Nowadays, she (Sorenstam) definitely hits it long enough and I think she will do well. In fact, if she got the chance to play in 10 or 12 (PGA Tour events), I’m sure she would have a chance to win at least one.”

Right earned

Pak Se Ri, Sorenstam’s closest rival on the LPGA Tour, is also green with envy.

“For sure, one day I’d love to have the chance to play on the PGA Tour,” said the South Korean. “I’d like the chance to see how good the men really are.

“I’m right behind her. Annika wants to challenge herself and she’s earned the right after the way she has played over the last couple of years.”

But Karrie Webb is not quite so enthusiastic.

“I would never want to do it,” said the Australian, who ruled women’s golf before the Sorenstam takeover in 2001.

“I wouldn’t want to attract that sort of attention to myself and I also feel I have enough challenges and enough pressure playing on the LPGA.

“But if Annika wants to do it, this is certainly the right time for her. And I think Colonial is a good choice of course, it’s not over-long and should suit her game.”

While Sorenstam says her decision to accept the invitation has nothing to do with striking a blow for feminism, there are some who fear that, if she performs poorly, it will reflect badly on the LPGA Tour.

Many are also disappointed that the Swede chose a date that clashes with an LPGA event.

Hogging limelight

While Sorenstam hogs the limelight at the Colonial in Forth Worth, Texas, from May 22 to 25, her week-to-week colleagues will be struggling to gain a fraction of the interest at the Corning Classic in New York.

Sweden’s Catrin Nilsmark, Europe’s Solheim Cup captain and someone who has known Sorenstam since her junior playing days, believes it will be a great achievement if her compatriot survives the halfway cut at the Colonial.

“It will be very tough and will be a fantastic effort if she makes the cut,” she said. “But Annika has amazed me so often in the past that, really, nothing she does surprises me any more.”

Sorenstam, who concedes she has been overwhelmed by the level of interest in her Colonial appearance and describes the last three months as ‘crazy’, says all reaction has so far been favourable.

“I’ve only had a positive reaction, people even come up in restaurants, wish me luck and say ‘hey, go and kick the guys’,” she said.

Her detractors have been less willing to speak out and Helen Alfredsson, another of her compatriots, is among those who remained tight-lipped.

But Alfredsson’s reaction probably spoke volumes. “No comment,” she replied when canvassed for an opinion. “I’ve said ‘no comment’ on that all year.”

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