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Skins Game loses Tiger but gains Annika
by Associated Press

NORTON, Massachusetts (AP)? The Skins Game will have the No. 1 player, even though Tiger Woods is taking this year off.

Annika Sorenstam, who became the first woman in 58 years on the PGA Tour by playing at Colonial, will cap off her remarkable season as the first LPGA Tour player to compete in the Skins Game.

Joining her at Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, California, will be defending champion Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson, who predicted Sorenstam would finish 20th at the Colonial (she missed the cut).

O'Meara won last year with eight skins worth $405,000 of the $1 million purse. He made nine birdies over 18 holes, which doesn't bode well for Sorenstam. When she missed the cut at Colonial (71-74), she made only two birdies.

Still, her presence figures to be a big boost for a silly-season event that has lost some of its charm over the last 20 years.

"It will create some excitement," O'Meara said last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship. "If you can't have Tiger Woods, why not have Annika Sorenstam? We're fortunate to have her play."

Sorenstam said she will not play another PGA Tour event, but two months ago embraced the idea of a special event like the Skins Game.

O'Meara and Couples did not play at Colonial. Mickelson tied for 13th at Colonial, and he tied for 58th at the Greater Hartford Open, where Connecticut club pro Suzy Whaley missed the cut.

"I don't know her very well, but from everything I've heard she's a nice lady and obviously a fantastic player," O'Meara said. "The way she handled everything at Colonial, to perform at that level, showed what a great champion she is."

Any predictions?

"I hope she doesn't beat me up too bad," O'Meara said.


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