KRAFT NABISCO CHAMPIONSHIP
World No. 1 Annika Sorenstam won last year's first two majors before tying for 23rd at the U.S. Women's Open.
She's still the 1
Sorenstam is clearly the world's top female golfer, and has her sights set on a grand slam
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. » The only thing certain about the new Rolex ranking system for women's golf is that Annika Sorenstam is the No. 1 golfer in the world. After that, the seconds don't tick as accurately.
Case in point is Michelle Wie's controversial No. 2 ranking that took a week off because the Punahou School junior hasn't played in enough events to qualify for this week's latest poll.
Sorenstam didn't know that when asked what she thought of Wie being ranked No. 2 worldwide.
"Well," Sorenstam said, then stopped when LPGA Tour official Paul Rovnak pointed out that Wie is not ranked second anymore because she hadn't played in enough events during the two-year qualifying period.
Competing in this week's $1.8 million Kraft Nabisco Championship will change that for next week's poll, but as of this moment:
"She's not anywhere right now," Rovnak said of Wie.
That prompted Sorenstam to say, "So, I get out of this question."
The packed media room for the first grand slam of the LPGA Tour broke out in laughter.
"Perfect," Sorenstam said. "Where am I?"
Rovnak replied, "You're No. 1"
Seemingly relieved, Sorenstam said, "OK."
But it didn't end there.
After she answered another question about all the young women taking aim at her top ranking, Washington Post columnist Leonard Shapiro said, "Can you answer the previous question?"
This perplexed Sorenstam, but she tackled the subject the best she could.
"I really don't know what to say," Sorenstam said. "One week you're second, the next week you're not on. She didn't even play last week (because there wasn't a scheduled tournament). She didn't even play and she lost her spot. That's tough."
Does this system need some tweaking?
"It seems like it, yes," Sorenstam said. "I haven't really figured it out -- I don't really know how it works, I really don't. I mean, it seems like they changed it from last week, so I'd like to see the new version and maybe I can figure out how it works.
"I definitely care about it. I think if we look at the overall picture, I think it's great we get a world ranking for women. We should all welcome that. It does seem like it would take time to work it out. We have so many tours to think about and the different fields and so forth. It's going to be tough to find a really accurate system."
Accuracy hasn't been a problem of late for the most dominant figure on the LPGA Tour. After skipping the first two events in Hawaii, Sorenstam returned from a ski trip in Montana to win the MasterCard Classic in Mexico, before stumbling a bit at the Safeway International in Arizona, won by Juli Inkster.
But if anybody is betting against Sorenstam to win the first leg of the grand slam, they aren't saying so out loud. The defending champion of this event is well aware if she wants to win all four majors in the same season, she must be hoisting the trophy here come Sunday.
"I'm excited to be here," said Sorenstam, who has won this tournament three of the last five years. "It's great to be back as a defending champion. I think the golf course is in as good shape as I've ever seen it. I think that makes it even more special. I think I'm as ready as I can be."
Sorenstam conceded she's nervous because of her stated goal to win all four majors (Kraft Nabisco, McDonald's LPGA Championship, U.S. Open and Women's British Open) in the same year. It's never been done in women's golf.
But if anyone could do it, Sorenstam certainly qualifies. She has won nine majors, including two in 2005, in her 12 years on the LPGA Tour. Still, putting too much pressure on herself caused her to stumble and fall hard at the U.S. Open last year after winning the first two majors of the season.
"I know I'll be a little nervous," Sorenstam said. "As you know, I've set some lofty goals. Like I said, I'm ready to come here and play, but it's the anticipation of getting started and getting the tournament going. I think it's just natural to be nervous.
"I think the key is to be able to control your nerves and be able to turn it around and make something great out of it, instead of getting yourself in the way. I have gotten in my own way a few times at big tournaments because I really want it so badly that I try too hard and build up a lot of tension. But the last few years I feel a lot better and I play more relaxed. It's now or never."