PHOENIX (Arizona): Women's world number one Annika Sorenstam kicks off her LPGA campaign this week, but already has half an eye on the Colonial tournament at the end of May when she will take on the top players in the men's game.
The Swede, who dominated women's golf last year, enjoyed a practice round with former Colonial winner David Frost at the Forth Worth course in Texas at the weekend.
“Colonial wasn't really in tournament condition, but it was still great to get the chance to see it and play with David,” she said at Moon Valley, where she starts her season today.
“I was messing about and didn't keep score, but I reckon if I can make even par for the four days then that will be a good result.”
Sorenstam, who won 13 times worldwide last year, said she had been shocked at the amount of interest her invitation to take on the men had generated.
She is the first woman to play on the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias took part in the 1945 Los Angeles Open, but does not envisage that it will become a regular occurrence.
“Colonial is a one off opportunity,” she said. “I want to test myself and face a new challenge. But it is on the LPGA Tour that I still want to set records. That is my priority.
“I'll play Colonial and then we'll go from there. But I've not even thought about taking part in other PGA Tour events. At the moment, I've got enough to deal with preparing for that one week. I'm considering Colonial to be my fifth major this year.”
There will be an enormous amount of pressure on Sorenstam's shoulders – and the danger of a poor performance.
“But whatever happens, I will walk away on Sunday having had a huge learning experience,” she said. “And, whatever happens, I don't think it will reflect badly on the LPGA. Otherwise, I wouldn't do it.”
This week, Sorenstam is bidding to win the Safeway Ping title for the second time in three years – last year she lost in a play-off to Australia's Rachel Teske.
It was when she won at Moon Valley two years ago that she shot her historic 59 – the first sub-60 score by a woman. – Reuters