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Sorenstam all set for PGA Tour debut

As Annika Sorenstam played in her first PGA Tour pro-am yesterday, it was apparent that she was not quite up to par on all the rules. She picked up her ball on three of the 10 holes in the rain-shortened event, unaware that PGA protocol calls for players to hole out on every green and post a score.

``Oh, was I?'' asked Sorenstam, who will become the first woman in 58 years to play in a PGA event when she tees it up at 9:58 this morning in the first round of the Colonial. ``We don't do that on my tour. I guess I've got to learn the rules over here.''

Of course, it was somewhat ironic that no one filled her in on all the details for an event she has spent so much time preparing for and which has drawn so much attention.

She played yesterday in front of galleries she said were the biggest she's seen since Sunday of the U.S. Open. The course was lined with thousands of fans, plenty of them women, who braved the rainy weather conditions to watch Sorenstam take on history.

``This was tremendous,'' said Sorenstam. ``All the support I've gotten from everybody, to show up on a day like today is incredible.''

Since she arrived on Monday, the weather has played a big part in her preparation.

``(Yesterday) was just kind of trying to stay dry.But it was another chance for me to see the golf course. I worked a little bit on my swing and I was a little calmer than (Tuesday). So I felt like I hit some good shots. I like the golf course. It's much different than I thought it would be because of the water, obviously.''

The highlight of her round came on the 246-yard, par-3 fourth hole, where for a second straight day she failed to reach the green with her driver. Yesterday she chipped in from 40 feet for a birdie.

``I hit driver on the par 3 and chipped it in for a 2, but the team didn't use my score. One guy (David Darnell) made a 2 (net 1). The course is obviously playing much longer. The only good news is that the greens are softer so I can fire more at the flag. I'll do my best. I'm going to hit a few longer clubs than I expected. But luckily I've got them in my bag, so we'll see what happens.''

Her chipping was sharp starting on the first hole, a 565-yard par 5 where she drove it into the right rough, punched out with an iron and missed the green short right with her 166-yard approach before chipping to within a foot for par.

She made a regulation par on the second, missed the green just short on the third and chipped close for par and birdied the fourth to go 1-under par.

She missed the green on the 470-yard, par-4 fifth hole and landed in the left bunker, blasted to 12 feet, missed the par putt and scraped away a 3-footer for bogey.

She hit an iron shot to 5 feet from the left rough on the 393-yard, par-4 sixth and missed the birdie putt. She hit her tee ball 249 yards on the seventh and had 178 yards left, but chunked her second shot. She hit a fat wedge for her third, chipped to within 8 feet and picked up her bogey putt.

Just after Sorenstam hit the fat wedge shot, amateur partner David Springer holed a far more difficult flip wedge, prompting a member of the gallery to shout, ``Take lessons there, girl.''

She made a regulation par on the 192-yard, par-3 eighth, hitting a long iron tee shot, then hit the ninth in regulation and picked up after her birdie putt missed. She finished by making par on the 10th, where she starts the real odyssey this morning. ``I can't prepare any more. I mean I've been waiting for this day for a long time,'' she said. ``I've been practicing a lot for the last few months. Now it's here so whatever happens, happens. The more I play the golf course, the more I'm around the guys it's going to make me more comfortable.

``Obviously I'm very happy to be here. (Today) is the day I've been waiting for for a long time. I hope (the weather) clears up a little bit and I enjoy it. I can't even imagine what (the hubbub) is going to be like. It's tremendous, all the support I got from everybody who came out on a day like today.''

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