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Annika Sorenstam: Nervous all day, but pleased with her round
by ASAP Sports

Bank of America Colonial
Colonial Country Club
Fort Worth, Texas

May 22, 2003
First Round

An Interview With:

ANNIKA SORENSTAM

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Annika, thank you for joining us. Tremendous round today. 1-over par 71. But the pressure that was on you, afforded to you, you were certainly grace under pressure today. Get some opening comments from you.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, sure. Oh, I'm so relieved to sit here. Obviously I'm very very pleased the way I played all day. But oh, was I nervous on the tee. Actually I was nervous all day. It never went away. So very happy the way I played. I want to just thank the guys I played with, both Dean and Aaron, they were so nice to me, so supportive. Just kind of kidding each other that we're going through this together. So they made it really more easier for me to handle everything. It was a great day. It was more than I could ever expected. So it's just a thrill to be here and very very pleased the way I played.

Q. Can you tell us how you felt on the 10th tee?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The first tee?

Q. Yeah, was your heart beating really fast?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I was. My heart was beating. I felt a little sick in my stomach. My hands were a little sweaty. Everything that you feel when you're under pressure and stress and I mean it was -- I've been nervous before. But this was a little more than usual.

Q. You've been saying this week that you would be happy with level par. But as your round developed you were looking pretty good at bettering par. How were your expectations in the middle of the round when you had some good makeable birdie putts?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I was just thinking about my game plan all day long. I wasn't concerned about my score or what I did on the previous holes. I just wanted to keep on going. Hit one shot at a time and then hit the green and then try to make birdies. I am not used to these type of pin placements. They're so tucked in the corners and obviously I'm hitting longer clubs in. But I'm very pleased with 1-over. It's not level par, but first day under these circumstances, it feels better than par for me.

Q. Two things. What did you say to yourself when you were on the first tee, you seemed to mutter something to yourself as you were about to hit. And then secondly, as you look back on it, are you proud of yourself for what you've done now?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I'm very proud. This has been incredible week in so many ways. I feel like this is almost more than I can handle. So therefore I'm just thrilled that I'm in. On the first tee I kept telling myself trust yourself, you can do it. Just I had one swing thought and that was just take it easy from the top and it worked all day. I kept saying that to myself over and over again. And that's what I needed to distract myself.

Q. What was the best shot you hit the whole day?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:The best shot today? I thought I hit a great 6-iron on number 15. I didn't make birdie there but I hit a lot of good shots today. I'm very very pleased. There was some homes where I played a little conservative but I hit exactly where I wanted. I really didn't miss many shots at all. So I add them all together I'm very pleased.

Q. Coming up to number nine after you hit the approach shot and you heard the roar of the crowd were you able to kind of take it all in for the first time and see the sea of people that you could not move out there. It had to have been gratifying. And secondly, have you ever experienced crowds like this in just streaming, lining the fairways all day long?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: No, it's been incredible. It started the first day I came here with the crowd. Everybody's going, go girl, go Annika, you can do it. Everybody is so encouraging and so positive. Obviously that gets me going as well. And even though I hit the approach shot on number nine, it's never over until it's over. Especially the way this course is, it's so tricky. So I kept being focused and I didn't want to let go until I saw my ball in the hole.

Q. You said you were nervous most of the day, tomorrow do you expect that to subside a little bit and be easier on you or do you think you will be just as nervous again?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I hope so. I feel like I played 36 holes in one day. We'll see. I'm sure tomorrow I'm going to be nervous as well. Because then it's Friday and then I want to do better. So I got to be other reasons to be nervous, so.

Q. There's some holes you would hit all three of you would hit drivers and you would be 10, 15 yards back. On other holes I'm thinking I think number six on the back, you would be giving away, 50, 60, 70 yards, was that just you them sort of letting their club out a little bit more or what was the difference?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The way this course is set up these bunkers they come into play when I hit driver. The guys I play with, they hit the ball further. They can carry over the bunkers. So if I can carry over the bunkers, obviously I would love to do that. My strategy is just to stay out of the rough, stay out of the bunkers. And I'm hitting 4- wood off the tee. And on number 6 in particular I'm hitting 4-wood, 7- iron. And I would rather hit 7-iron than hit from the bunker with a nine. So I'm playing safe on a lot of holes. But that's what I got to do. This course is so much longer than I'm used to and for the longer club in, I'm shooting for the center of the green. So that was my strategy all day long.

Q. Was that wobbly port-a-potty on number 8 a little un-nerving?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:Yeah, I was a little nervous but luckily I had some great security guys that were able to brace the port-a-loo for me so I would be safe.

Q. Talk about that first birdie of yours. Getting that under your belt and the roar of the crowd when you delivered it?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, that was a great little birdie. I hit 6-iron on that hole. I told my caddy, well, at least I made one birdie. So it was a relief and after that it was -- on this course where you know that there's going to be bogeys out there I wanted to make a birdie or two just to feel a little bit more comfortable. Because if you start making bogeys, then the scores go higher and higher. So it was a relief and then it was really cool. The guys were so nice to me, so it was fun.

Q. You were saying earlier in the week that you were not out to prove anything by your performance and your appearance here. What do you think though you showed today to people who were curious about what you would do here?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:I don't know what those people think and saw. Personally I came here to test myself. I know what I got to work on. I got an afternoon to work a little bit on it. But I'm very proud of the way I was focusing and the proud of the way the decisions I made and that I stuck to them. And that's why I'm here. I want to see if I could do it. That's all that matters to me.

Q. You talked yesterday that your short game would be the key can you talk about your putting, what you thought about your putting today?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well I was a little tentative all day long. I think when I got it to the hole I made it. So I should get it to the hole more often. But some of these pins I thought were a little tricky. And when I get a little nervous I get a little tentative. And that's what happened. I kept telling myself hit it and then I would hit it and suddenly I would have a long putt coming back. And that's not really what you want on this course as well. So I got to work on the speed, especially my lag putts, and I will figure it out.

Q. I know you want to make the cut tomorrow but does tomorrow matter? Did you already prove it to yourself today?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:I would love to make the cut. But if I play like I did today, then I really, then it really doesn't matter. I don't I don't know what the scores are today. I hardly looked at the leaderboard. I don't know what position I'm in. I just played really good today, I thought. And coming in here I thought the course would be firm and bouncy and shorter. Now it's wet and long and narrower. So the way I played today I'm very, very pleased with that.

Q. What does the score feel like?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well it's tough to say. But I didn't miss really a single shot today. The putts, yeah, I missed some putts. But most of it was speed. This probably would be, I would have to say in the 60s on my tour.

Q. You just mentioned that you didn't hit a bad shot today. With the course drying out a little bit tomorrow how much better do you think you can play?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:Well we'll see. I know it's going to dry out. But then the greens will be firmer, so then I have to alter my plan a little bit there. Today I could fire at the flag because I knew the ball wasn't going to roll any. But if it dries out I guess I'll use my driver and hit shorter irons in. So we'll see. It will be fun to see.

Q. There was a report that David could not come down with you because he was quarantined for SARS. Is there any truth to that? And it was reported and printed in a newspaper.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah. He wasn't quarantined, but he had the flu and he still has the flu. And we had to go to the hospital on Monday morning before I was going to leave. And I dropped him off at the emergency room and then when I came back he had a mask over his mouth and they said that they're treating me like it's SARS. So it wasn't the best beginning of the week I could have had. But he's all fine. He's just got the flu. And he arrived last night and he's here.

Q. You said you played conservative. Will you play more offensive game tomorrow?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:Probably not. I'm going to stick to my game plan and if I have shorter irons in, then maybe I can fire a little bit more at the flag. Still this long of a course is longer than I'm used to and I'm hitting longer irons than normal and I have to be conservative. If I stay out of trouble, that's going to be my plan this week. And if I roll in a few more putts tomorrow, then that will be great.

Q. Would it be fair to say that today you played your game plan was to play par golf and then you would take birdies if they come and tomorrow you would probably be more aggressive?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:That's true, sir, yeah, I will. I am going to play conservative tomorrow as well. But if I have shorter clubs in I might go for more the flag.

Q. Was there a point in your round that nerves aside you began to feel like it was just another round of golf and you were playing shot to shot and did you ever just kind of lose yourself in your round?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:No. I never felt that way. It was always been a special round in every, every hole felt like U.S. Open on Sunday. I was hoping I would feel a little more relaxed and that I would calm down a little bit. I talked to Aaron and Dean a little bit and we were laughing, but once I was over the ball, once I was looking at the flag, I was nervous again. But that's what it's all about. And that's one of the reasons I'm here again is to learn how to handle pressure and be under these this extreme test for me. When I come to my U.S. Open, I hope to learn from this and handle it better next time.

Q. Did you have any fears before today that the nervousness would overwhelm you maybe and keep you from playing the way you wanted to play?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:Yes. Everything is so much bigger and so many more people and the course is so much longer. And I feel like it's almost over my head a little bit. Yeah, I've been nervous that I wasn't going to perform. In the back of my mind though I know I can play. The question is can I play when everybody is looking, when everybody is analyzing every little thing. And that's what made me nervous.

Q. You said you would work on something this afternoon, can you tell us what that is?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:I need to find the speed on the greens a little bit. I'm going to putt some long putts and just get a feel for lagging the putts. Not be to tentative. I feel really good about my swing. I hit some great shots today. I'm just going to put everything together. And that's what I got to work on.

Q. How much money do you think the bookmakers in Vegas made today?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:I don't know. I should have bet on myself.

(Laughter.)

Q. Could you for historical purposes take us through the day from about midnight on. How did you sleep, breakfast, your practice regular men, everything.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Everything? Well I slept pretty good, believe it or not. I woke up early. 6 o'clock. I had some breakfast and then I got here at 7. I met my caddy at 7:15 and just got organized a little bit. A then I did my normal routine I show up an hour 15 minutes before I chip and putt first and then I hit balls. And then everything was pretty similar to what I normally do. Then I putted some more. But then I was ready and the time was going so slow. I stood and waited and waited and it was never my turn to hit. But then once I got to the tee it was incredible feeling, really. I signed a bunch of scorecards on the first hole. Because of this historical moment and I normally don't do that. I'll never forget the amount of people on the first tee and how positive they have been all day. It's so much fun to play in front of crowds like this. And I'll never forget this day in my life.

Q. You said you were going to center of the greens a lot. But two of your best approaches on the front nine your front nine, 16 and 18 were just on the proper side of the sand trap and then they rolled toward the hole. Did you feel that the golf gods were kind of on your side with shots like that?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Definitely. The force was behind me today totally. I'm thankful for both those shots. I hit them pretty solid but they were off line. I got great bounces and we were kidding in the group and the guys said, you know where all the mounds are, I said exactly. So it was just fun.

Q. Certainly you played a great day today as far as fairways and greens, but there were a few birdie opportunities you didn't make. Do you feel like you left a couple strokes out there as far as your putter's concerned?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I'm very content with my round. Yeah, in a perfect world, I left a few putts out there but under these circumstances I knew I was going to make some mistakes and if these are the mistakes I make I'll take them.

Q. On the pairings sheets you're listed as being from Lake Nona, Fla. but on the tee were you introduced as being from Stockholm. Can you talk about just the pressure you feel representing your country and what it must feel like?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:I'm obviously very proud where I'm from an I have -- I know in all the Swedish people are behind me. But I also know that I'm here to play for myself and I'm on my own and I got to do it. And when I came here I'm not afraid for the challenge, I'm nervous, and I knew I was going to be nervous but I'm not afraid. Because at the end of the day it's just a game. I'm very thankful and I feel lucky that I do what I love to do.

Q. Given all the build-up and all the emotion of today, does it make it easier or harder to go out tomorrow and play well?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:I really don't know. Now I'm glad I got a good round in. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. I hop I got a good night's rest. Obviously I would like to play the way I did today again. And we'll see what happens. But this has been much tougher than I thought it would be with everything around it and with the weather it made the course much longer than I expected, so I'm just happy the way I played today. Tomorrow's a new day. I got to go out there and hit new shots and hopefully they're all good.

Q. You keep talking about this being a day you'll never forget and how special it was. How does it rank with the day you shot 59?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:Well, you can't compare. Obviously shooting 59 is something I'm very proud of. But today the circumstances the competitors that I'm competing against, the golf course, this is the next level. And obviously shooting 59 prepared me more for something like this. I was nervous then, but nothing like I was today and the way I felt during the round.

Q. You told us last Tuesday that the Colonial would be your Mount Everest. At the end of the day on Sunday what in your mind would be considered a successful climb?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:Well, I haven't reached the top, but I feel like I'm on my way. Again, the way I played today is confirmed it. That this has been a wonderful week in so many ways and we'll see what the outcome will be. I know all the guys here, they're out here to compete and everything. And I'm here to test myself. And whether I play the weekend or not, if I play like I did today, then I have tested myself in so many ways and I've learned so much and I'm thankful for that.

Q. Two quick ones for you. And that is, you've talked about appreciating the size of the crowds here. Do you wonder, did you wonder at all today why these people don't come out and watch you week in and week out when you play on the LPGA TOUR and do you think at any point today, tonight when you go back to the locker room that the emotions of today will really hit you?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:Yeah, it will probably hit me, all the emotions. Sure. This week is demanding for me in many ways, like you said especially emotionally because I'm thinking a lot, planning a lot and everything around it. I'm not used to this. When it comes to the crowd, I think it's great that they're all here. And I have a lot of friends that have flown thousands of miles to come here and support me. And that means a lot. And I know they support me wherever I play. So I just think this particular week is different and that's why there are so many people here. But I've never seen so many people cheer for me and push me. And it's been wonderful.

Q. When you were able to look around coming up the fairway, whatnot, did you get an idea for the social significance of this there were more little girls than I go I've ever seen in a gallery.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well it's great to see the little girls. I hope that they feel like when they grow up that they can play golf, but also to follow their dream and follow their heart. That's what I'm doing. So it's wonderful to see every little one here. Either the little boys or the girls or the ladies or the men that are out here. That I'm living my dream and that's what it's all about.

Q. You said Aaron and Dean were really supportive of you today. Can you remember some of the things that you said to them or they said to you to help ease the tension?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:We said a lot of things but one thing that I will always remember is Aaron came up to me on the putting green today and he said, remember we're doing this together. And I said you're right. So he was as nervous as I was. And he asked me, when is this going to go away and I said, I don't know. It's the same on every hole. I thought that was pretty sweet of him. But also I mean we talked a lot and he said that this is a great preparation for him for future tournaments. And I told him this is what you'll see when you go in the last group at the Masters. And he laughed and I laughed and it was fun.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Annika, thank you very much. Good luck the rest of the week. (c) 2003 ASAP Sports. All Rights Reserved.

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