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Tiger Woods inspires Annika Sorenstam

World number one women's golfer Annika Sorenstam said Tiger Woods's 11th major victory in the British Open had given her an extra spur for next week's female version at Royal Lytham.

The 35-year-old Swede, speaking before the Lexus Cup at Lytham on Monday, told Reuters in a telephone interview that she had watched every shot on television of Woods's emotional triumph at Hoylake the day before.

"We are good friends but we have a serious rivalry," she said. Sorenstam has won 10 women's majors and is determined to match the American's tally.

"He texted me during my victory in the U.S. Open earlier in the month and I'll be texting my congratulations to him too soon. My mobile's text doesn't work in Britain so I'll have to wait," she said.

Sorenstam was fascinated to watch Woods's tactics at Hoylake where he kept his driver in the bag and relied on irons off the tee to keep out of the rough.

"I could never go through a tournament myself without using the driver -- I obviously don't have Tiger's power -- but I'll be trying to stay out of trouble myself at Lytham next week and often using fairway woods and irons rather than the driver."

She is five years Woods's senior and said she would keep playing as long as the challenge and motivation were there.

Her majors' rivalry with Woods is one factor which will keep her persisting with a training regime which includes up to five visits every week to the gym and beating hundreds of balls on the practice range.

Another spur is the new generation of exciting players coming through led by 16-year-old Michelle Wie.

Would she continue another five years? "Five years is a long time. I have lots of other things going on in my life," she said.

"I'll continue as long as the motivation is still there for me. I could just stop. I can't see myself playing on if I'm not performing."

She has ruled out the possibility of taking on Woods face to face at an Open now that the Royal & Ancient, the tournament organisers, have opened up qualifying for women.

"I played in a regular PGA event, the Colonial, three years ago but it was a one-off," she said. "It was one of the greatest things I have done in my career but we women have a great tour and for me the enjoyment is competing and winning."

Wie has been criticised for concentrating on trying to make a PGA Tour cut -- her latest attempt was at this month's John Deere Classic -- instead of regular women's golf events.

"She has a different agenda to me," said Sorenstam.

July 25, 2006

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