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Sorenstam may do more harm than good to LPGA Tour

Annika Sorenstam wants to play in the Bank of America Colonial. Is Martha Burk on her way, too?

They would make a dream team in the best-ball, self-serving-stunts competition.

Sorenstam fired her look-at-me shot in January, saying she gladly would join the men for a PGA Tour event. The Colonial at first wisely resisted but caved in and is negotiating with Sorenstam's representatives to give her a spot in the field.

If Sorenstam plays in Fort Worth, the Colonial (May 19-25)

will have a spot in golf history. It will be forever known as the event that helped kill the LPGA Tour.

For that drowning tour, Sorenstam's act of self-aggrandizement is the worst thing that could happen.

Sorenstam is the LPGA's best player, but she does not shoulder her responsibility to be the face of the tour. At a time when the LPGA needs the charisma of a Nancy Lopez, it gets the dour, don't-bother-me personality of Sorenstam.

By angling to play against the men in her search for attention, Sorenstam has already damaged the LPGA. If the best woman player is bored and looking for a challenge elsewhere, there is less reason to follow the LPGA.

Sorenstam has said if she plays a tour event and performs well, it will help the LPGA. It is more likely that she will play poorly, miss the cut with a pair of 80s and make the LPGA look even worse.

Start with the pressure.

Laura Davies has wandered into out-of-season non-PGA Tour events with men and found the atmosphere to be overwhelming.

"There is an extra pressure to play well to justify being there," Davies said last month.

Sorenstam wilted under the pressure in the made-for-television "Battle at Bighorn" two years ago.

With Tiger Woods and David Duval from the tour also playing, Sorenstam looked like an intimidated hacker. She sprayed shots all over the course, rarely hitting the fairway, and rolled one putt off a green.

Even a cold-blooded Sorenstam could not compete against the men. Power makes up a large part of golf's appeal, and she is nowhere close in the category.

Sorenstam led the LPGA in percentage of greens hit in regulation last season. It's easy to reach the green in regulation about 80 percent of the time when you're hitting wedges and 9 irons for second shots into par 4s.

In last month's LPGA Skins Game, Sorenstam drove a par 4.

The hole played at a staggering 264 yards.

Sorenstam averaged 266 yards per drive last season. That was fourth-best in the LPGA. That would be terrible on the tour, where Ernie Els is averaging 319.6 yards per drive this season.

Playing from the back tees, Sorenstam would be forced to bring out the trusty 9-wood for second shots at the compact Colonial. The 9-wood would bring an element of comic relief - no one hits 9-woods on the tour - but would take away from Sorenstam's accuracy.

Her score would be embarrassing.

What's Sorenstam to do?

Say thanks, but no thanks. Explain that you do not want to take away a spot from a deserving PGA player. Ask everyone so captivated by this silly notion to give more attention to the LPGA. Get a personality and do more to promote your tour and help your sisters.

Do something to help a woman's sport that needs all the help it can get.

The same holds for Burk, making a career out of trying to crack Augusta National's men-only membership policy. Like Sorenstam's fling with the tour, Burk's crusade does nothing more than increase her profile.

If Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, wants to make a difference, she should forget about picketing at The Masters and help defend Title IX against the forces who want college football teams to have 120 players. Burk and Sorenstam need to fix their priorities, which puts them on a level with most men.


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