LEHI When the 11th annual Sorenson Champions Challenge tees off today, it will be a reunion of sorts for two golfers, Annika Sorenstam and Dean Wilson.
It was back in 2003 that Sorenstam made history by becoming the first woman to play in a men's PGA Tour event at the Colonial Invitational in Texas. While Sorenstam gained a lot of notoriety for her effort, so did Wilson.
The former BYU golfer was one of her partners for her two rounds, and he received praise for the way he welcomed Sorenstam and made her feel comfortable in the all-male domain.
"It was a funny way to meet," said Sorenstam Monday before she teed off in the pro-am. "We've kept in touch, and I look forward to playing with him again."
Sorenstam and Wilson tee off today at 10 a.m. in the $475,000 two-person scramble tournament with Sorenstam playing with her sister, Charlotta, and Wilson teamed with PGA Tour regular Charley Hoffman who is a friend of Wilson's in Las Vegas. Wilson's regular partner, Mike Weir, with whom he won the event in 2003 and 2004, had a conflict this week.
"It's good to see her again and it will be fun," said Wilson, who noted that they played together in a golf event about three years ago.
"It's great. We've sent text messages to each other. Every time she'd win a tournament, I'd give her a call and I think she won 10 times that year after we played together. She called me when I won."
Sorenstam is excited to be playing with her sister, who also plays on the LPGA Tour, calling it "sisterly love on the golf course again."
Earlier this year, Sorenstam announced that this will be her last year of competitive golf. She didn't say whether this would be her last appearance at the Champions Challenge, but she plans to go out with a bang this year on the LPGA Tour.
"I'm playing consistent golf right now and I've won three times already," she said. "I'm very happy. My last year is going to be great."
"I know she'll be staying busy," Charlotta said. "I'm impressed the way she did it, going out on top. She deserves it. She works hard."
The other group likely to garner a lot of attention today is the final group with Jack Nicklaus and his son, Mike, and Johnny Miller and his son, Scott.
Johnny had to miss Monday's pro-am because he had to stay in San Diego for the exciting playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. He rushed home Monday night to be at the pro-am dinner and will play today.
Several former champions are in the field including Billy and Bobby Casper, who won the inaugural tournament in 1998, Craig Stadler, who won in 1999, Dave Stockton and Dave Stockton Jr., who won in 2000, Wilson who won in 2003 and 2004 with Mike Weir, Jason Zuback and Bobby Wilson, the long-drive champions who are teaming up again and Mike Reid, who won last year with Mark O'Meara.
This year Reid will play with his son, Daniel, who recently returned from an LDS mission. Stadler, who won with son Kevin in '99, will play with his son Chris this time. Other teams include Hale and Steve Irwin, Ian Baker-Finch and Jack Nicklaus II, and Andy and Todd Miller.
The winning team will earn $100,000 and each team will win at least $20,000.
Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams will play in a special celebrity pairing at 8:40 a.m. with sponsor Jim Sorenson, comedian Gary Mule Deer, professional Joe Taggert and amateur Steele DeWald.The tournament sponsor is the Sorenson Group, a real estate development company. The official charities are the ANNIKA Foundation and art works for kids.
E-mail: [email protected]