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Sorenstam accepts invitation to play Colonial

Annika Sorenstam has accepted an invitation to play in the golf tournament Ben Hogan made famous, solidifying plans to be the first woman in 58 years to compete in a PGA Tour event.

Don't change the signs at Colonial Country Club to "Annika's Alley" quite yet, but prepare for an interesting week at the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, May 19-25.

Sorenstam received invitations from nine PGA Tour events, but she chose Colonial on Wednesday because it better suits her game. It's a tight, relatively short course by current standards -- 7,080 yards to a par 70 -- and stresses accuracy over power. The Colonial was made famous by Hogan, who won five titles on his home course that became known as "Hogan's Alley."

Sorenstam, 32, who won 13 times worldwide last year, said in a statement, "There were many invitations, but the golf course and the schedule of the Colonial were ideal. . . . For all the well-wishers who want to know why I would accept such a challenge, the answer is simple. I'm curious to see if I can compete in a PGA Tour event."

Tiger Woods also might be in the field. He recently expressed a desire to play Colonial for the first time since 1997. Upon learning of Sorenstam's plans, Woods did not want to estimate how she might fare, saying it depends on conditions and how the course is set up. He also predicted a media frenzy Sorenstam has never seen.

"I think it's great she's playing, but . . . it will only be great for women's golf if she plays well," said Woods. "If she puts up two high scores, it will be more detrimental than good."

Phil Mickelson said he also welcomed the news.

"I'm as curious as anybody to see how the best LPGA player of today, and possibly all time, will play against the men," said Mickelson.

He predicted Sorenstam would "definitely" make the cut and probably would finish 20th.

How will he do?

"I hope 19th or better," Mickelson said.

But LPGA pro Dottie Pepper recently suggested Sorenstam will "barely make the cut" in a PGA Tour event.

"It's a different world out there," said Pepper. "She'd go from reaching most of the par 5's on our tour to having no chance to reach them out there."

The last woman to compete in a PGA Tour event was Babe Zaharias, who made the 36-hole cut at the 1945 Los Angeles Open.

Sorenstam's decision gives her the jump on club pro Suzy Whaley, who earned a spot in the July 24-27 Greater Hartford Open by winning a PGA of America sectional, playing from shorter tees.

 

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