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Sorenstam & Wie launch LPGA seasons

World No.1 Annika Sorenstam and 14-year-old prodigy Michelle Wie, the two biggest names in women's golf, launch their LPGA seasons on Thursday at the Safeway International.

For Sorenstam, who notched up her first win of the year three weeks ago at the Australian Ladies' Masters, the tournament completes her preparations for her bid to become the first player to win all four majors in one season.

The first of the big four is at Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage, in California next week.

"At the moment, this is the week that matters," Sorenstam said. "But it's also important that I get the momentum going.

"This week's tournament is perfect preparation for Mission Hills. It's very long and tricky and a very good test."

Wie, who came within a shot of making the cut at the men's Sony Open in her native Hawaii in January, is competing in her 11th LPGA tournament as an invited amateur.

She played in seven last year, making the cut in all but one, with the highlight a tie for ninth place in the Mission Hills major.

Wie, who is six feet tall and hits the ball over 300 yards, says she eventually wants to divide her time between the LPGA and the PGA Tours, while her ultimate ambition is to play in the Masters at Augusta National.

"But those are long-term aims," she said. "I have to set high goals to make me work harder. To play in the Masters and on the PGA Tour would be tough, but I'm getting there.

"I don't know if it will ever happen that I play both LPGA and PGA, but I've got to try everything so I don't get bored with golf."

She also insists she is a relatively normal teenager.

"I go to the Mall and hang out with my friends," she said "But being different is also cool. How many 14-year-olds are six feet tall?"

Sorenstam, the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour when she missed the cut at last year's Colonial Tournament, described Wie's performance in the Sony Open as "incredible".

The Swede, who played with the youngster in the final round at Mission Hills last year, thinks Wie is a huge asset to the LPGA.

"She's young, powerful and fun to watch," Sorenstam said. "She's the next generation and good for the game."

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