Sorenstam finishes in style
by Doug Ferguson
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP)?
Annika Sorenstam had nothing left.
She was emotionally spent from being in contention in almost every tournament she played. She was physically tired from working harder than anyone in the game.
What kept her going Sunday was a one-shot lead, knowing she had only three holes left and a chance to win her 13th tournament worldwide.
"I could almost taste the trophy," Sorenstam said. "I gave it all I had."
The result was some of her best golf of an amazing year, which carried her to a three-stroke victory over Rachel Teske in the season-ending ADT Championship, a fitting finish to the best LPGA Tour season in 38 years.
With a risky shot on the toughest hole at Trump International and a clutch swing on the decisive 17th, Sorenstam closed with a 4-under 68 and won for the 11th time this year on the LPGA Tour.
She smiled and lightly pumped her fist several times when her final putt of the year fell for par. She finished at 13-under 275, leading to some of the 20 records she set this year.
Her scoring average was 68.70, shattering the mark she set last year (69.42) and finishing more than a full stroke ahead of Se Ri Pak.
She earned $215,000, giving her more than $2.8 million. A year ago, she became the first woman in LPGA Tour history to go over $2 million in one season. Now it seems routine.
Sorenstam also became the first player since Mickey Wright in 1964 to win 11 times in one season. Wright, widely regarded as the best female golfer ever, set the record of 13 victories in 1963.
The 32-year-old Swede can claim part of that.
She also won the Australian Ladies Masters and the Compaq Swedish Open, giving her 13 victories worldwide in just 25 tournaments. The winning rate of 52 percent is topped only by Wright (10-of-17 for 59 percent) in 1961.
"It won't say in the LPGA history books that I won 13, it will say 11," Sorenstam said. "But I don't know if they had an international tour when Mickey played. So there's some things I don't think you can compare."
Right now, no one compares to Sorenstam.
Last year, Sorenstam won eight times, became the first woman to shoot 59 and the first on the LPGA Tour to earn more than $2 million in a season.
What an encore!
"I was determined to prove I could do it again, or even better," Sorenstam said.
It began eight months ago in Hawaii when Sorenstam won the first tournament of the year in the Takefuji Classic. It ended at Trump International, with Sorenstam rising to the stop and failing to make and major mistakes when it mattered.
"She pushes herself and challenges herself so much that anything is possible," Teske said.
Teske made her work for this one.
Despite a couple of sloppy bogeys that left her two strokes behind at the turn, Teske made that up with an 8-iron from 130 yards that rolled into the cup for eagle on No. 10.
She had the lead briefly when Sorenstam chunked a chip on No. 12 and then missed a 4-foot par putt. "Would you make one, please?" Sorenstam said to herself, constantly pushing to the very end.
The turning point came at No. 16, when Sorenstam drove into the left rough. She took less club, a 7-iron, to hit a low liner that stayed under a tree and barely cleared the water, rolling to the back of the peninsula green.
"I figured I came here to win," Sorenstam said.
Teske was playing in the group behind, so slowly that by the time she holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th, Sorenstam already had played the 17th - a birdie by hitting 7-iron to about 5 feet.
Teske wasn't up to the task. Her 5-iron sailed right into the hazard, and while she could play the ball, her chip came up 40 feet short and she three-putted for double bogey.
The only other contender Sunday was Karrie Webb, and that didn't last long.
In a three-way tie for the lead at 10 under through four holes, Webb flubbed a chip on No. 5 and made bogey, then went for the green on the 335-yard sixth hole and found the water, leading to a double bogey.
Her only consolation was making a birdie at the last for a 74, giving her sole possession of third place and enough money to become the fifth LPGA Tour player to go over $1 million on the year.
The rest of the honors belonged to Sorenstam.
"I feel like I'm walking on clouds," she said. "Here I am, winning again. Life is nice. It's going my way."