Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sorenstam has succeeded with talent, grace

The 2007 LPGA season officially began weeks ago but it really starts this weekend in Mexico where Annika Sorenstam returns to competition after a four-month break.

For all the justified chatter about Paula Creamer, Lorena Ochoa, Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel and -- on those few weeks when she gets to play -- Michelle Wie, the LPGA tour still has Sorenstam at its center.

She is 36 now and has talked about starting a family. She's heavily involved in building a teaching academy in Florida and her interests reach far beyond the golf course now.

While we've all watched in wonder as Tiger Woods has redirected golf history on the men's side, Sorenstam has done a similar thing on the women's side. She has been a dominating presence, the player to beat every time she's teed it up for the better part of a decade.

Sorenstam is likely past her prime now but not far past it. Like most great players, she's driven by the major championships, knowing they will define her legacy. She made no secret of her desire to win the Grand Slam and, though it hasn't happened and probably won't, Sorenstam didn't just dream it, she chased it with a passion.

We're fortunate because Sorenstam will pass this way twice this year. She's hosting a new tournament north of Charleston at the end of May then she'll return to Pine Needles to chase another U.S. Women's Open title like the one she won there in 1996 when we were just understanding how special she would be.

Not only has Sorenstam done it with remarkable talent, she's done it with grace.

And, it's time to pick another PGA Tour winner. Or, to be more accurate, to try to pick another winner, since I've struck out so far this year.

It's ACC tournament weekend in Tampa where the PODS Championship is being played but I'm going with a guy who has no ACC ties -- Vijay Singh.