Sorenstam built in the Armstrong mould

Should Annika Sorenstam successfully defend her title at the Weetabix Women's British Open - and she has done so at all the other majors so it is hardly unknown territory - the Swedish world No 1 would join Tiger Woods with eight major championships to her credit.

Should Annika Sorenstam successfully defend her title at the Weetabix Women's British Open - and she has done so at all the other majors so it is hardly unknown territory - the Swedish world No 1 would join Tiger Woods with eight major championships to her credit.

But who wants to be compared to Tiger these days? Lance Armstrong would be a better fit. "We are all human beings. We all go through ruts. But Annika does not let that happen, a lot like Lance Armstrong," said Meg Mallon, the US Women's Open champion.

"Even Jack Nicklaus finished out of the top 20 quite a bit. You're seeing Tiger's problems right now. Karrie Webb had an amazing three-year stretch, but the longevity of Annika's streak is incredible. She makes it look so easy that people don't appreciate it. The rest of us know how hard it is."

To defeat Sorenstam takes an exceptional performance and the 41-year-old Mallon did just that with a final round of 65 to the Swede's 67 at last month's US Open. Last week, at the Evian Masters in France, Wendy Doolan produced a spell of seven under for five holes in doing the unthinkable and overtaking Sorenstam on the last day.

"It was close last week but there is not much you can do when someone has a wonderful stretch like that," Sorenstam said. "I am more fired up this week because it is a really big tournament and I feel I am playing well. I am ready to go. I can't hit the ball much better."

Sorenstam won last year at Royal Lytham after a thrilling duel with Se Ri Pak, who won the Open the last time it was here at Sunningdale in 2001. Laura Davies, who has been waiting a long time to repeat her 1986 triumph, along with Kent's Karen Stupples, the only European other than Sorenstam to win in the States this year, and Catriona Matthew, of Scotland, lead the home challenge.

Sorenstam, on her first visit to Britain this year, was finally able to collect the Golf Writers' Trophy, having been nominated as the European player who had made the "most outstanding contribution to golf" in 2003.

During the year she heralded a new era of women playing against the men, won two majors, including a first British Open, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

This season has not been too shabby, either. She has won five times in 12 events, been runner-up three times and has not finished worse than 13th. Since the start of 2000, she has won 38 times, finished outside the top 17 only twice in 19 majors and has missed precisely one cut.

"She makes a very low percentage of mistakes," Mallon explained. "She has incredible mental strength and an incredible work ethic. She plots her way around a course brilliantly but I enjoy being paired with her because of the pace she plays. It is a lesson to every kid and sports psychologist that the greatest player in the world is also the fastest."

Sorenstam still believes she can get better. "I believe you can one-putt every green, so there is still work to be done," she said.

But while the travel and the practice do not excite her as much as the competition, the 33-year-old is not retiring yet. "I've thought about it, but I don't have a date in mind," Sorenstam said. "I've always said as long as I enjoy it and feel motivated to practise, I will continue because I do enjoy the competition."

News
people

Arts and Entertainment
JJ Abrams' seventh Star Wars, The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of Episode VII has gone online after weeks of anticipation
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game