Annika Sorenstam changes focus for 2004
After a disappointing finish in the first major of the year, Annika Sorenstam has set her sights on three-fourths of a Grand Slam.
The LPGA's six-time player of the year couldn't recover from a second-round 76 and finished tied for 13th in last week's Kraft Nabisco, eight strokes behind winner Grace Park.
``The reason I set four majors as my goal is that it's something that's never been achieved and that's what keeps me motivated: to do something I've never done,'' Sorenstam said Thursday. ``I'm disappointed about that, but I have to move on. Now I want to win three majors.''
Sorenstam believes setting lofty goals keeps her competitive. She has six majors -- including last year's LPGA Championship and the Women's British Open to wrap up a career Grand Slam -- among her 49 titles.
At 33, she's already won her way into the LPGA Hall of Fame.
``There are always goals to find,'' said Sorenstam, who opens defense of her Office Depot Championship on Friday at El Caballero Country Club. ``If I wake up one day and I don't have natural goals or I don't feel motivated or I don't feel excited, well, then it's time to do something else.
``Since I didn't achieve this (2004 Grand Slam), then it's in the back of my mind. I still enjoy playing, that's for sure.''
Always looking for new challenges, Sorenstam found a significant test when she played against the men in the Colonial last year, the first woman since 1945 to compete on the PGA Tour. She shot 71-75 to miss the cut, but certainly didn't embarrass herself.
She said it also helped her game.
``The experience I got being under the microscope and the way I prepared and the way I worked on my short game, there were so many things that I learned from Colonial that helped me last year and to carry on this year,'' Sorenstam said.
``I've improved so much in my short game since Colonial and I have a lot to be thankful for all the tips I got from the guys and practicing with the guys and seeing how they play.''
Sorenstam is happy to be playing this week in Los Angeles, where she's had great success. Last year she won at El Caballero Country Club for the first of her six 2003 titles.
In 2001 at Wilshire Country Club, she charged from 10 shots back starting the final round to win, the biggest comeback in LPGA history. Sorenstam shot a 66 to overtake Pat Hurst, then beat Mi Hyun Kim in a playoff.
Two years ago at El Caballero, Sorenstam finished second, one shot behind Se Ri Pak.
``I've always liked old, traditional courses and this is one of those. This is a course that fits my game really well,'' Sorenstam said. ``You have to hit your iron shots in the right place and that's my strength. There are some par-5s you can reach here if you're a little longer and I've had the chance to do that.
``There are trickier par-3s and all the things what I see as being my strengths and I think that's why I've played well here.''
Sorenstam, not given to complaining, does have one gripe -- slow play. She noted that her second round at Rancho Mirage last week took five hours, 45 minutes.
``That was outrageous,'' she said. ``It's no fun to play when it takes that long and not just for the players, for the fans. Who wants to be on the course all day long?
``It's all about preparing when it's not your turn and then when it is your turn, you hit and move on. I think that would speed up play for sure.''
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