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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Sorenstam Plays at Colonial

Aired May 20, 2003 - 20:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Just about every once in a while, a sporting event captures the attention of everyone, including nonsports fans. One such story tees off Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, when the best player in women's golf gets a chance to play with the guys. Annika Sorenstam, 32 years old from Sweden, the winner of 43 tournaments on the LPGA tour. Earlier today, Sorenstam met with reporters, including our own Josie Karp, who is live this evening in Fort Worth, Texas. Josie, good evening to you, a lot of questions going at Annika today.
JOSIE KARP, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, this figures to be a very long week for Annika Sorenstam, and she kicked it off with one very long day. Because of a rain delay, the scheduled practice round that she had for this morning was pushed back to this afternoon. She didn't finish up until a couple of hours ago. But at least when she was on the course with a club in her hand, she was at her comfort zone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARP (voice-over): Annika Sorenstam faced her first major challenge at the Colonial on Tuesday away from the golf course. At a pre-tournament press conference, she sat for almost an hour in the glare of the spotlight and still had trouble comprehending that a decision she made three months ago led to this.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM, GOLFER: I'm still overwhelmed, and I can't believe how many of you guys are here. I mean, it's great, but I think when I accepted the invitation, I must have been very naive. You know, I'm doing this to test myself, and I didn't think everybody else wanted to test me at the same time.

KARP: Sorenstam said her goal in the tournament starts on Thursday is to shoot even par. If she does that, she'll likely make the cut, the measuring stick most experts are using to determine if her calculated risk is a success. Along the way, the world's best female golfer will have to prove that she can withstand demands that are more than physical.

SORENSTAM: You know, mentally, I've -- you know, this is -- you know, I like to compare myself maybe with a mountain climber. This will be Mt. Everest for me. And I believe I have practiced for this for years, and now I'm here, and, you know, -- you know, I personally feel like I've got nothing to lose. You know, nobody expects anything from me. You know, I expect to play well. KARP: With her blond ponytail and exclusive access to Colonial's ladies locker room, playing well is the only way Sorenstam will fit in on this golf course.

SORENSTAM: This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I want to enjoy the week, and you know, everything around it is so different than I'm used to. Obviously playing with the guys, you guys, the golf course, I'm in an environment that I'm not really used to, so those are factors that I have in back of my mind.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARP: Sorenstam has been getting some expert advice on how to handle all of the pressure this week. She says in the past week, she's heard from Tiger Woods three times, he's been lending moral support, and adding a little pressure of his own, saying, like a lot of people, he will be watching -- Bill.

HEMMER: He won't be alone. Interesting how she chose the course, too. It has a lot of doglegs, strategic golf plays to a shorter game, as she described a little bit earlier today. Josie, thanks. Josie Karp live tonight in Texas.

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