Tiger encourages Annika to play more than one

Updated: May 15, 2003, 1:14 AM ET
Associated Press

ALVESLOHE, Germany -- Tiger Woods not only thinks Annika Sorenstam should play next week's Colonial, he believes she needs several chances to prove she can compete with the men.

I think it's unfortunate Vijay said that -- very unfortunate. I don't think his is a widely-held view -- I think it's just Vijay's opinion. My message to Annika is 'just go and play.'
-- Tiger Woods

Vijay Singh told The Associated Press on Sunday that Sorenstam had no business playing Colonial and that he hopes she misses the cut. He also said that on the odd chance he gets paired with her, he'd withdraw.

"I think it will be more fair to her if she could play four or five tournaments -- then you could judge on those results," Woods said Wednesday before playing in the Deutsche Bank Open. "I'm sure if she did play four or five, she'd get on a roll ... In one tournament a lot could go wrong for her.

"I think it's unfortunate Vijay said that -- very unfortunate," Woods said. "I don't think his is a widely-held view -- I think it's just Vijay's opinion. My message to Annika is 'just go and play.' "

On Tuesday, Singh attempted to cast his remarks in a different light.

"If it was an attack on Annika at all, I would like to apologize to her," Singh said. "I actually said if I miss the cut, I'd rather she miss the cut as well. I hope she missed the cut because I don't want to have a woman beat me."

Singh made his remarks to AP golf writer Doug Ferguson during an interview Sunday as he left the locker room after the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C. A review of Ferguson's notes confirmed the original version of Singh's remarks.

That came after Nick Price, the defending champion at Colonial, said her entry in a men's event "reeks of publicity" and that she should qualify for the tour first. Scott Hoch said he wants to see her play well so people will realize ``how much separation there is between us and the ladies' tour."

Woods thinks it would be a feat if Sorenstam survived the cut at the Colonial.

"I would think it was a fantastic performance -- no doubt about it," he said.

But Woods said that was because the long 7,080 yard Colonial Country Club course in Fort Worth, Texas was very difficult, one raked by thunderstorms and winds, with potentially tricky pin placements.

Sorenstam won 13 times around the world last year, the most by a woman in nearly 40 years. Two years ago, she became the first woman to shoot 59.

Playing at Colonial will make her the first woman in 58 years to compete on the tour. The last woman to do so was Babe Zaharias, who qualified for the 1945 Los Angeles Open.

Colonial is an invitational with a limited field. Sorenstam received one of eight sponsor's exemptions.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press