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Annika plays early Thursday; partners look forward to spotlight

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Dean Wilson is a journeyman who has
spent most of his career on the Japanese Tour. Aaron Barber is an
eight-year pro who didn't earn his first PGA Tour check until two
months ago.

They will be in the most-watched group at the Colonial. And not
because of anything they've done.

They're Annika Sorenstam's playing partners for the first two
rounds at Colonial Country Club, where she will become the first
woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour.

They'll play together Thursday, when they start on the 10th tee
at 8:58 a.m., the last morning trio on the course. Their second
round begins on the first tee at 1:43 p.m. Friday.

''It's a unique experience to be able to play with her in a
tournament atmosphere like this,'' said Wilson, who wore a ''Go
Annika'' button he bought for $3 at Colonial's pro shop.

Sorenstam played a practice round Tuesday morning with Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik, although they didn't get far. Rain and the threat of storms stopped them before they finished the first hole.

Sorenstam hit her drive into the right rough, advanced it up the fairway and still had 190 yards to the middle of the green on the 565-yard par 5. Her approach went short and right of the green, hopping into a bunker.

Wilson and Barber look forward to competing with the world's No.
1 female player. The PGA Tour rookies insist they're not concerned
about the extra attention from reporters and fans, or the chance
Sorenstam could post better scores.

"Anybody can beat me when I play bad,'' said Wilson, who now
lives in Las Vegas.

Barber added: ''She is going to beat some people, there's no
doubt. I'm worried about 113 people beating me every week.''

Their names were selected randomly by a computer. Like
Sorenstam, Wilson and Barber were drawn out of the category of
players who haven't won or finished in the top 125 on the money
list.

Wilson and Barber, on tour after finally earning their cards
through qualifying school last fall, met Sorenstam for the first
time Tuesday. They were leaving their news conference as she was
entering the same crowded interview room for hers.

''She will probably feel more pressure,'' Barber said. ''After
all, the spotlight's on her. I was surprised that we even had to do
a press conference. We're just the two guys playing with her.''

Barber got into the tournament the same way as Sorenstam, on a
sponsor's exemption.

Some PGA Tour players have criticized Sorenstam's decision to
play. Defending Colonial champ Nick Price called her appearance a
publicity stunt.

Barber and Wilson disagreed.

''She has every right to be in this tournament, and I'm all for
her playing well,'' Wilson said.

Barber said Sorenstam has ''earned this opportunity based on her
resume.''

''She's very dominant on the LPGA Tour, and I think it's a way
for her to test herself at a higher level,'' he said.

Wilson, 33, won three times on the Japanese Tour in 2001, when
he finished third on the money list. He had made only six PGA Tour
starts before this season, and his best finish ever was two weeks
ago, when he tied for seventh in the Wachovia Championship.

Barber, 30, turned pro in 1996. His only top-10 finish was a tie
for fourth in March in Tucson, which was played opposite a World
Golf Championship event. That was also his first tour paycheck
($132,000), and the first of three straight cuts he made before
missing his last six.