Thursday, June 5, 2003

Sorenstam turns her attention to majors

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One of the reasons Annika Sorenstam played the Bank of America Colonial was to test herself against the world's best. That done, she has only the LPGA majors left on her list of challenges.

Sorenstam showed she could play with the men in the face of immense pressure, then she rode that confidence to a victory in her first tournament back on the LPGA last week. Now comes the next stage - Sorenstam using the Colonial experience to improve her performances in majors.

She gets her first chance beginning today in the McDonald's LPGA Championship.

Sorenstam's play in major championships remains the only blemish in an extraordinary career. With all the records she has set, it seems difficult to believe that she has won only four majors. The majors will be her primary ambition over the next, and probably her final, two seasons.

"Majors is where the history is, and a lot of people look at somebody's career depending on how they do in the majors," Sorenstam said. "I'd like to win more majors. I'd like to do better there, and I believe I can."

Majors help define careers. While it is difficult to argue against Sorenstam being the best current women's player, she still lags behind several of her peers when it comes to majors.

Juli Inkster has seven major titles, Karrie Webb has six and Se Ri Pak, only 25, has four. In the first major of the season, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc beat Sorenstam by one shot.

On the LPGA's all-time list of major titles, Sorenstam is tied for 13th. Tiger Woods, who has played two fewer seasons, is tied for fifth on the PGA Tour's major professional championships list with eight.

Champions Tour

Fuzzy Zoeller ended a 15-year winless streak when he won the Senior PGA Championship last year as a rookie. He defends that title starting today at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown, Pa.

"It's good coming through the gate, seeing your picture on the tickets, on everything," Zoeller said. "It means you did something well."

The victory was Zoeller's first since winning the Anheuser Busch Classic in 1986 and was his first major championship since the 1984 U.S. Open.

"With golfers, we're judged by what we do in the majors," Zoeller said. "I've been fortunate in my career."

Zoeller will be defending his title against a field that includes Hale Irwin, a three-time Senior PGA winner and the leading money-winner on the Champions Tour this year; Jack Nicklaus; Jay Sigel, a two-time U.S. Amateur champion; and Tom Watson, the 2001 Senior PGA winner.

Craig Stadler could be the wild card. He'll be making his seniors debut after turning 50 on Monday.

"I haven't been doing well recently, but now I'm thrown in the limelight and everybody expects you to be at the top of the heap again," Stadler said. Stadler made only three cuts in 10 PGA Tour events this year.

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