REUNION, Fla. (AP) Annika Sorenstam will be out at least a month, leaving the LPGA Tour without its top player and one of its best draws.
"Obviously it's not good for anybody if Annika is not playing," tour veteran Laura Davies said. "It's the same as if Tiger (Woods) had a monthlong injury and a bad back. Not that people wouldn't watch it, but they'd rather see the premier players up there, and Annika is and has been a premier. Has been for a long time."
Sorenstam withdrew Thursday from the Ginn Open because of a ruptured disk in her back that will keep her from playing for at least a month, putting her reign atop the women's world rankings in jeopardy.
"I've been playing with quite a bit of pain for the past several weeks," Sorenstam said in a statement. "I couldn't take it much more and decided it was time to see someone."
First-round co-leader Lorena Ochoa could supplant Sorenstam atop the rankings next week. Sorenstam has held the No. 1 spot every week since the Rolex rankings were introduced on tour in February 2006.
The 36-year-old Sorenstam said doctors discovered a ruptured disk and a bulging disk. She said she would see a neurosurgeon in Miami later Thursday to figure out what to do next.
Several tour players agreed that Sorenstam's absence hurts.
"I respect her very much and hope that it's not threatening to her career," Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez said. "We need her and she's a great player. It's tough when you get physically tough. I hope that she comes back. I'll be praying for her and I hope that everything works out good for her because she's a great lady and I want her to come back quick."
Sorenstam still plans to open her Annika Academy at Ginn Reunion Resort on Monday.
Sorenstam has won 69 times on the LPGA Tour, including 10 majors, during her 13-year career. This is her first significant injury. If she only misses one month, Sorenstam could return in time for the Ginn Tribute, a new tournament that starts May 31 in South Carolina in which she will be the official host.
The next major is the LPGA Championship to be played June 7-10 at Bulle Rock outside Baltimore. Sorenstam was never a factor in the first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in which she shot 8-over 296 for her highest 72-hole score in a major in nine years.