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March 28, 2006

Annika Sorenstam


PAUL ROVNAK: Annika, thanks for coming in and joining us. You are the defending champion of this event. A tournament you've won three times. You have nine career majors, 67 career wins. This is a big week for you. You always like to defend your tournaments. Talk about playing here where you've had so much success in the past and how you would like to carry on this week.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I'm excited to be here. This is a fun event for many reasons. And this year 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 here. I think that makes it even more special. I'm excited to be here. I'm looking forward to this week. I haven't played a lot this year. This is my third or fourth event, if you count South Africa. I'm ready to play.

PAUL ROVNAK: We'll go ahead and take questions.

Q. Reportedly, Bjorn Borg, the most famous tennis star of your country, is selling his Wimbledon trophies. I'd like to know what's your reaction

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: He's not selling them.

Q. Okay.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I read that just yesterday.

Q. Assuming that you would ever sell Kraft trophies, can you talk a little bit about that, please?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: If I would sell trophies? I hope I don't get to that stage in my life. I have a few to sell. (Laughter) But no, I consider them very special. They have lots of memories to them. I mean, it would never occur to me, really. But like I said, he's not selling them. I read that yesterday on the news.

Q. In terms of the golf course, I guess the rough is up where it normally is. I've heard the greens may be faster this year or look like they're going to be firmer or faster by the weekend. Is that what you saw out there in your practice round today?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The greens, I think they're fast already and always, if we get some more sun and wind, they'll dry out and be even faster. I have no idea what they're rolling but they're fast. You have to make sure to put the ball on the right side of the pins. I think they're firm too, which makes them even trickier when the rough is up. So it's really setting up like a major championship, kind of the way we all picture it. So it's really put a premium on the ball striking, and it's going to put a premium on the short game. I think that's why we're all here. And that's what majors should do.

Q. Just a short question about how you feel about the state of your game. Obviously you won very well down in Mexico, not quite so good in Phoenix. How do you feel about the state of your game and how has your preparation been for this first major?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think I'm as ready as I can be. I've had good weeks of practice. My coach was in town. I got to the desert last week and had a few days down here. I'm as ready as I can be. I think I'm swinging really well, putting well. So I told my caddie today, I'm looking forward to this week, I'm ready, it's now or never. We'll see how it goes. I feel good about it. We'll see what happens.

Q. Was there any difference in your nervousness? I'm assuming you're nervous at the start of any tournament. It's natural. But when you first stated the Grand Slam is your goal two years ago, didn't get it done. And then last year, and did get it done the first two, and now coming into this year, any difference in how you approach it or how you feel?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I know I'll be a little nervous tomorrow, even though I've been playing on Tour this is my 12th year and a lot of tournaments every year, it's still the excitement of being part of something big and the excitement of finding out how you're going to play for the week.

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 get 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.

Q. That's what I meant. You've done so much, but you never really stated the Grand Slam as a goal until a couple of years ago. When you got to Kraft, having stated that goal, when you look back now, do you think you possibly got in your way that year because of the desire and did you do a better job of it last year?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, just because I stated the goal, I don't think that's what made it harder. I mean, I have had goals since I was a little girl. It's just that some goals I share and some goals I don't share. I think for me, sometimes it's okay to talk about it because it's there, it's not a hidden thing. I just feel when I get in my own way it's because I want it so badly.

A lot of times I come into an event as ready as I can be and it might not flow. I might not find the rhythm and then I try even harder and it gets worse. It's almost like I dig a deeper hole. But the more I play out here and the more experience I get, I learn how to react in different situations and I definitely know how to get out of it. Now if I get too tight my caddie knows what to say and I play a lot more relaxed the last few holes.

Q. What would be an example of a goal you haven't shared with us yet?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: (Laughter) Doug. Next question.

Q. A lot of the other women who have been in here have talked about their off season and early season training programs. Christina Kim, notably, was the most dramatic transformation. Have you done anything different in reaction to what the other women have been doing or have you changed your off season or early season fitness?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I haven't really changed anything. I have been working out for quite some time so I've been going with the programs that I have. I continue to work with the fitness guy that I've been working with for five years or something like that. For me, the winter season, or the off season I should say, is a really good time to kind of get back to basics. When it comes to working out, start working out really hard and get back into weights. For me, it's the same winter really. I haven't really changed anything.

Q. Juli Inkster was in here yesterday and said she liked to beat the younger players just to let them know she's still around. You've been always basically self motivated. Do all these younger players serve any motivation to you or are you just concentrating on your own internal motivation?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I like the competition, there's no doubt about it, if it's Juli or Paula Creamer. It's a young world. I see them all as competitors. I love the position I'm in. I would love to stay there. And to do that I have got to work hard and set new goals and push myself hard to get better.

It's a combination of everything, but I'm so competitive. I'll do anything to beat them all, really. That's my goal.

Q. Carolyn was in earlier and she talked about how there is a personal branding coach that's available to all the players now. I was wondering if that's something you would take advantage of, or if you have a personal brand, what that would be?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I think it's a great thing. I'm actually working with somebody else, not with the Tour, but it's something I'm working on, yes.

Q. What would be your brand that you're looking for?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: That's what we're working on, really. I just started a few months ago, but that's something that I wanted to do. I think I'm in a unique situation to make Annika a real brand. It's going to take time, but we're planting the seed for something like that.

Q. What are your thoughts on Michelle Wie being ranked No. 2 in the world?


Q. She's not ranked right now because of the two year ruling period, a minimum of 15 requirements. She will go back in after this tournament.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: So she's not No. 2?

Q. She's not anywhere right now.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: So I get out of this question. (Laughter) Perfect.

Q. She was No. 2 last week.


Q. You're No. 1.


Q. Are the younger players a distraction to you?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: A distraction?

Q. Yes.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: That's a really funny question. No, they're not in the way. They're part of the Tour. They're great athletes. They're just part of the game and it's fun to see a new generation come up with some great attitudes, great games. It's fun to see. Like I said, I love the new challenge.

Q. (No microphone.)

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I really don't know what to say. One week you're second, the next week you're not on. She didn't even play last week. She didn't even play and she lost her spot. That's tough.

Q. (No microphone.)

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It seems like it, yes.

Q. You've said you'll keep playing if you got up in the morning and wanted to practiced. It's early in the season. Are you still as motivated as you look ahead to another long season?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I am. I had a great off season. I had a chance to really recharge my batteries. I'm looking forward to the season. I had a good practice session with my coach. And I still just love the game. There are still a few things I'd like to achieve, and I think that's what keeps me going. It gets tough with all the travel. I love being at home. But once I kind of get out and once I'm in competition mode, I love it.

Q. As much as you have analyzed things, statistics, for example, have you looked at the World Ranking, no matter who was on it or who was No. 2 and just tried to figure out how they work?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I have. I haven't really figured out I don't really know how it works, I really don't. I mean, it seems like they have changed it from last week, so I'd like to see the new version and maybe I can figure out how it works.

Q. Have you, even out of your own curiosity, investigated how many points are assigned for what tournaments and how it gets divided? Do you care about that or is that something you do out of natural curiosity?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: 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, but I think obviously we all welcome that and maybe one day we can look at that and that will determine who will play in what tournaments and so forth.

But right now, I think a lot of changes are going on. In a way, I look at it, I'm happy where I'm at, but then you start looking at it and you start wondering what are all these points and where do they come from. And then I pretty much gave up. I'm going to just let it ride for a little while and when I think it looks accurate I will care more.

Q. What is a day without golf for you?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: A day without golf? Well, right now I enjoy being at home, taking care of my house. And I have three cats and do a little cooking, a little skiing during the day. If I get I chance, I get a workout in and hang out with friends at night.

Q. You're No. 1 in the world. I'd like to know your opinion about the Chilean golf player, Nicole Perrot?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Nicole, I have not had the opportunity to play with her, but she played really well in Sacramento last year, her first victory. I think she made history there, which is pretty impressive. I'm sure her future is going to be really bright. I hope I get a chance to play with her some time soon.

Q. I'm going to assume you've been in the rough at least once. I'm curious, around the greens and given the speed of them and the firmness, et cetera, what's the closest you can reasonably expect to get to the hole coming out of the rough green side?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, it really depends on where you have this rough. If you have an uphill shot, you can get it pretty close. But if you're on the side or maybe you're behind the hole and you have a really tough chip, they're going to be really fast. It's going to be tough to get it close. Sometimes you might be happy with eight feet. That might be a great shot.

That's why I think club selection is going to be very important, getting on the right side of the pins. It seems to me if you're short, you always have an uphill chip and that will make it easier.

Q. It's going to be a week, in other words, where the one who is making the four to eight footers consistently are going to be helping herself?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: That too. That is definitely key to scoring, to be able to save par if you miss the green. It does put a premium on a lot of shots here. Driving, the course is quite long. The fairways, I had some mud on my ball today, I think they watered the fairways, so that makes it longer. And then you hit shots to the green. They're firmer, so then you have to really plan your shots. And thick rough, that's all about control. You have to really control the golf ball this week.

PAUL ROVNAK: Thank you, Annika.

End of FastScripts.

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