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Sorenstam becoming the face of the LPGA

Although Annika Sorenstam is still thinking about a final-hole meltdown that cost her the US Women's Open title, she's comfortable as the standard-bearer of the LPGA.

That wasn't always the case.

In May, the Swedish star solidified her position as the highest-profile LPGA player since Nancy Lopez when she became the first woman in 58 years to play in a PGA tournament.

"With the Colonial experience, I was myself," Sorenstam said in a conference call Tuesday from Vancouver, British Columbia, where she will compete this weekend in the Canadian Women's Open. "I wanted to do it. It's easier to do it when you do it your way. That's why I'm more comfortable."

In a separate interview, Sorenstam lamented her ouster Sunday from the U.S. Women's Open in North Plains, Oregon.

"I'm not over it yet because I still keep thinking, 'You know, if I only would have done that and what would have happened if I did that?"' Sorenstam said of a stunning ending that started from the middle of the fairway on the par-5 18th hole.

With 236 yards left, Sorenstam was poised to make birdie on the 502-yard hole and win her third U.S. Women's Open title. Instead, she sliced a shot into the trees, and the ensuing bogey cost her a spot in a three-way playoff won Monday by Hilary Lunke.

"I'm not going to let it bother me, but I will think about this for a while," Sorenstam said. "But you know, that's not going to help me. It's not going to affect my game in future tournaments, I know that."

Sorenstam said LPGA officials have long compared her to Lopez, and wanted her to take on the informal public relations chores Lopez performed on tour.

"They wanted somebody to be like her, and here I was," Sorenstam said. "They said, 'Nancy did this,' and 'Nancy did that.'But that just wasn't me. I said, 'I'm just here to compete."'

Ever since the Colonial, where Sorenstam shot two respectable rounds but missed the cut, the Swedish star said more people are approaching her for autographs and buying T-shirts. Also, more women fill LPGA galleries than before, she said.

"Everything has been positive," she said. "I've gotten used to it. I'm trying to balance that with competition. But I feel worn down."

She was tired and bothered by a cold on Sunday.

"I haven't had enough time to practice, but I've been playing good golf," she said.

In September, Sorenstam will defend the title she won last year in Tulsa. She plans to use the LPGA tournament as a warm-up for the Solheim Cup matches between European and American players in Malmo,Sweden.

 

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