Atta boy

May 20, 2003 11:37 PM

Annika Sorenstam would not like to be compared to a horse, but Funny Cide was once 200-1 at Bally’s to win the Triple Crown.

"That’s the beauty of bookmaking," race and sports director John Avello said of Bally’s original odds. "The odds are against Annika even making the cut, but I’d take a shot with her."

Sorenstam is the story in golf this week, challenging the top men in the world for the first time since Babe Didrikson Zaharias played the L.A. Open in 1945. Zaharias shot 76 and 81 to make the halfway cut, but a third-round 79 sent her home after only 54 holes.

Now, it’s Sorenstam’s turn. Interest has been high in Las Vegas, where normally golf does not receive much play outside a Tiger Woods sighting or one of the four majors on the PGA Tour.

"I think it would be good for golf is Annika was competitive," Avello said. "Most people probably think she won’t make the cut, but you’d have to lay 4-1 to win and I don’t think many want that."

While Avello doesn’t think Annika making the cut would hurt the books, Jay Kornegay at Imperial Palace takes the counterpoint.

"I think we’re all curious to see how she does," Kornegay said. "I think she will struggle more than she thinks. The books won’t be rooting for her to make the cut. I can guarantee that if she makes the cut, it will hurt the house. She’s not among the top 350 golfers in the world."

Bob Scucci at the Stardust also believes Sorenstam will fall short of making the cut, which came at +3 (143) last year.

"I don’t think she will shoot the number she shoots on women’s tour," Scucci said. "There will be lots of pressure on her. I’ll be rooting for her, and the interest out here has been raised in the Colonial, but it will be hard to see better than a 76 or 77 each round."

Wayne Braddock, race and sports director at Eldorado in Henderson, is one oddsmaker that gives Annika a shot at sticking around for the weekend.

"She can make the cut," Braddock said. "Under 76 is a good play for her first round score. I watched her at the 3-Tours Challenge out here and she can hit the ball a long way. I wish I could hit it that far."

Sorenstam is a 500-1 shot to win the tournament, which Phil Mickelson is favored to take at 7-1, according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants. But then, those Mighty Ducks weren’t even given a chance to win the Stanley Cup and now they’re in the finals.