For Annika Sorenstam, it's not enough to practice with Tiger Woods. There has to be a little cash involved, too.
Golf's top stars bet against each other and, right now, Woods has the edge.
"We always have to have something riding on it," Sorenstam said yesterday, on the eve of the Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale. "I think the bets, that's what keeps him motivated to beat me. For me, I think it's actually more the pride than anything. I always tell him: 'If I beat you I can say it.'
"He always makes sure it doesn't happen. We pay up front. I would say his account is more full."
Though they play on different tours, often in different countries, Sorenstam and Woods practice together when they can, working on different shots, primarily the lob.
"He just has a really good feel for how to hit it very high and land it very softly. I'm working on that shot," she said. "He's very supportive of what I do and I'm a big admirer of his game. He's helped me with a lot of shots, and it's just great to have a practice partner like that.
"We hit a lot of different shots, bump and runs, bunker shots, you name it," Sorenstam added. "This guy has so much imagination, which is really good for me because a lot of times I practice the same shots. But with him, he will always try to figure out my weakness, so that works out great for me."
Sorenstam said their rivalry is part of their friendship.
She messaged Woods when she won her ninth major this year to match his total. He replied when he won his 10th -- the British Open at St. Andrews two weeks ago.
She is already plotting a possible response "if things are going well on Sunday." If she wins, it would be her 10th major victory, and it would make her just the fourth woman in LPGA history to win three majors in one year.
"I think that for me personally it would be a great thing," Sorenstam said.
-- From News Services