Sorenstam thankful for support of Wilson, Barber
By Clay Fowler
Special to The Advertiser
Annika Sorenstam pauses on the opening hole of her round at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. To her right is Kane'ohe native Dean Wilson. They were paired with fellow rookie Aaron Barber.
It's a phrase Kane'ohe native Dean Wilson, among others, isn't used to hearing shrieked from the gallery on the PGA tour.
But by the end of yesterday's opening round of the Bank of America Colonial with playing partner Annika Sorenstam you can bet he was getting accustomed to his new surroundings.
"That's the first experience for me with all that," Wilson said. "A little bit of a circus with so many people, but a great experience playing with Annika."
A flood of media and vocal fans engulfed the threesome of PGA Tour rookies Wilson and Aaron Barber and, of course, Sorenstam for four hours at the Colonial Country Club as they made their way around the course.
Widely considered the best player on the LPGA tour, Sorenstam made history in style yesterday to the tune of roaring crowds, becoming the first woman to play in a PGA tour event since Babe Didrikson Zaharias 58 years ago.
Wilson may not have been the one responsible for the epic occurrence, but the ripple effects hit him early and often. The 33-year-old couldn't help but contract some of the contagious nerves provided by the giant galleries.
"Who is not going to be nervous with all this media around following her?" Wilson said. "I'm nervous and I'm just a part of it."
Annika Sorenstam gets a hug from playing partner Dean Wilson after completing the ninth hole. At right, is Aaron Barber.
The threesome pulled together with Wilson and Sorenstam shooting 1-over 71s and Barber notching a 2-over 72.
Rory Sabbatini holds the first-round lead at 6 under par.
Despite the galleries running 10-to-15 people deep, Wilson denied that they affected him in a negative way, save a few instances in which they had to wait for photographers to take their positions. He expressed relief at not having lost to Sorenstam, but was not shy in continuing to demonstrate his support for her participation in the Colonial. Sorenstam was also outspoken regarding the appreciation of her playing partners.
"I just want to thank the guys I played with," Sorenstam said. "Both Dean and Aaron were so nice to me, so supportive.
"We were kidding each other that we were going through this together. So they made it really more easier for me to handle everything."
It would seem a safe bet that the atmosphere would only intensify today for Wilson's group in an effort to push Sorenstam through to the weekend. In other words, the "You go girl" crowd isn't going anywhere.