Let's suppose you're the number-one golfer in the world and you need a playing partner. Who would you call? Why not dial the top female golfer in the world.
Tiger and Annika have become golfing buddies while not on tour and regularly play practice rounds together. They even throw in a friendly wager even though more often than not Tiger wins. "We always have to have something riding on it," Sorenstam said. "I think the bets, that's what keeps him motivated to beat me."
Usually Woods helps Sorenstam with her game introducing her to some of his "Tiger shots." Annika believes that these practice rounds have helped her game considerably.
I recently read an interview with "Ms. 59" in the August 2005 issue of Golf Magazine. Although I know that the two super golfers practice together I never realized that some of her "get-out-of-trouble" shots have been taught to her by arguably the greatest golfer in the world.
As Annika said in her interview, "He's taught me a few shots around the green using a lob wedge-opening the face angle, moving the ball forward or back in my stance-that's what we tried and that's the only way I chip nowadays."
Both Annika and Tiger practice their short games as these are the shots that save tournaments. "We hit a lot of different shots, bump and runs, bunker shots, you name it" said Sorenstam.
Annika enjoys playing golf with Tiger and Woods sends text-messages to Sorenstam whenever he wins a major. They've become friends. When Tiger won the British Open he immediately texted Annika the number "10." If Annika wins the Women's British Open this week both Sorenstam and Woods will have won their career grand slams twice and Annika can reciprocate with her own "10."
Could it be golf without pressure that allows this friendship to flourish? The ability to enjoy playing the game without the press, autograph-hounds, or even other top-name golfers has got to put even the top golfers at ease although Annika says that "rivalry" is part of their relationship. But this rivalry stems from an unlikely source. I don't think that the two top golfers ever anticipated that they would become golfing buddies.
It's nice when the top LPGA golfer thinks you're "cool" and is even a bit in awe of you. As Annika went on to say, "He has so much imagination. Then again, there's alot of shots I could never hit, simply because of his strength and the fact I can't generate as much [clubhead] speed and spin as he does."
Both are Floridians. Tiger lives in Windemere and Annika's home is right there in Orlando. Just about a cranked Woods drive from each other other.
Annika is Swedish and so is Tiger's wife Elin. Prior to playing the Masters, Elin and Annika went diving in Florida. Both Swedes are also becoming friends. When Annika was asked if Tiger is learning his wife's native tongue Annika replied, "He knows a few words… they might not be the best words."
Two questions come to mind about their friendly games. What tee does Annika play from? And how much money is really on the line? The first answer sounds easy so I venture to guess that Tiger plays from the tournament tees and Annika plays from the whites. As far as the amount of money the two bet, they're not telling.
Annika will tell you that she has the highest regard for her playing partner. "He's very supportive of what I do and I'm a big admirer of his game."