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MOORE: Regardless of final score, Sorenstam a success

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David Moore

David Moore has been the senior football writer for FOX Sports since Aug. 2005. He appears weekly on the FSN Baseball Report and MLB on FOX. One more line lorem ipsum dolor sit amet e pluribus unum.

 
   
 

FORT WORTH, Texas

Annika Sorenstam refuses to attach any societal significance to her appearance at Colonial. She is driven to see how her game stacks up to the men, not to make a bold, cultural statement. Sorenstam passed her first test with flying colors. That doesn't mean she will make the cut. The way Sorenstam handled herself in Thursday's first round, shooting a one-over par 71 on a course that played longer than expected with a gallery that rivaled Tiger's largest, was impressive. The world's best woman player failed to hit just one fairway. She hit 14-of-18 greens in regulation and, in her own words, "didn't miss many shots at all." Sorenstam calculates she would have shot in the 60s on the LPGA Tour with the way she played Thursday. She would have shot in the 60s here if her putter hadn't given her problems. More on that later. Quibbling with Sorenstam's putting stroke or focusing on the bogey she shouldn't have made on the final hole would be like arguing Citizen Kane isn't a classic because you didn't like one or two scenes. What Sorenstam did Thursday was a success by any measure. She showed she could compete with the men on their 7,080-yard terms and not wilt under the pressure. She distinguished herself and acquitted the LPGA Tour, which some feared would look bad if their top player went out and failed. Tied for 74th after the first round, Sorenstam may not make the cut. Only the top 70 golfers will tee it up Saturday. But this fact doesn't diminish her round; it simply underscores the difficulty of the PGA Tour. "Yeah, I'm very proud," said Sorenstam, whose goal is to shoot even par. "This has been an incredible week in so many ways. I feel like this is almost more than I can handle. "It's not level par, but the first day under these circumstances, it feels better than par for me." The circumstances: The first woman to play in a PGA tournament in 58 years encounters a soggy course and grumbling among some of the men about her being included in the field. No one grumbles to her face, mind you, but there is resistance. When Sorenstam took the tee at 8:58 a.m. to hit her first shot — her group started on the back nine — she said her heart was beating, her hands were sweaty and she felt sick to her stomach. She was more nervous than normal and compared it to playing in the final round of the U.S. Women's Open. , one of 16 players to shoot a 3-under par 67, said the day had the feel and tension of a major. You assume he was talking about one of the majors on the men's tour. The gallery that followed Sorenstam was Tiger-esque. Many wore "Go Annika" buttons and shouted their support. One man wore a white, felt chicken hat on his head with the name Vijay written on either side. If had played Thursday, he probably would have beaten Sorenstam — but not by much. In the span of six days last week, Singh said he would withdraw if he found himself paired with Sorenstam, went out and won the Byron Nelson, then withdrew from the Colonial saying he promised his wife he would do so if he won. Singh opened last year's tournament at Colonial with a 70 and finished tied for 12th. "We were on the opposite side (of Sorenstam) so we saw 10 people the whole day," said Patrick Sheehan, who was tied for second with a 65. The throng that followed Sorenstam — and barely noticed partners Dean Wilson and Aaron Barber — weren't disappointed. She birdied the 178-yard 13th hole when she nailed a 6-iron within 15 feet and sunk the putt. A birdie attempt from six feet on No. 16 just missed. It's difficult to imagine that Sorenstam can strike the ball much better than she did in this opening round. The fact she carded just one birdie tells you what she went out to work on once the round was over. Putting. Sorenstam was credited with 33 putts and used her putter four other times from the fringe. She usually left her putts short and never got a feel for the speed of the greens, which will be even faster when she tees off Friday afternoon. "I was a little tentative all day long," Sorenstam said. "I think when I got it to the hole I made it. So I should get it to the hole more often. "Some of these pins, I thought, were a little tricky. And when I get a little nervous, I get a little tentative. That's what happened." What happened on No. 9 — her final hole of the day — could keep her from making the cut. Sorenstam hit a 4-wood off the tee, then carried a 7-iron more than 176 yards, landing just off the back of the green. She popped the ball out of the fringe using a putter and sailed it nearly eight feet past the hole. She missed the putt coming back for her second bogey in her final five holes. She refused to let that dull her enthusiasm. "I'm very content with my round," Sorenstam said. "In a perfect world, I left a few putts out there. But under the circumstances, I knew I was going to make some mistakes. "If these are the mistakes I make, I'll take them." Long-time observers of Colonial will tell you that Sorenstam couldn't have caught this course on an easier day. It did play longer than usual, but the greens were softened and slowed by two days of rain and there was no wind. My response: So what? It doesn't matter if the course was easy, hard or indifferent. Sorenstam played the same course as everyone else in the field and was competitive. "She's the best female in the world," said Sheehan, who didn't seem to mind answering almost as many questions about Sorenstam as himself. "I mean, she does things better than I do. She probably drives it straighter, probably putts it better, probably does every facet of the game better than I do. The only advantage I have over her is length. "That (71) is a good round for anybody out here. It would be like us playing a golf course that's over 8,000 yards." Sorenstam proved Thursday that distance isn't the problem. Putting is another matter. And Friday is another day. "I would love to make the cut," Sorenstam said. "But if I play like I did today, then it really doesn't matter. "The way I played today I'm very, very pleased with that." Senior writer David Moore can be reached at his e-mail address, dmoore@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Vijay Singh

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