Annika Looking for Three Straight

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2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam has three wins in official LPGA events this year, nearly $2 million in tour earnings and still has a stranglehold on the world's No. 1 women's ranking.
 
So how would she assess her season?
 
'Disappointing,' Sorenstam said.
 
To some players, that would be ridiculous. But Sorenstam has grown accustomed to dominance, which simply wasn't there for her in 2006. Her five-year grip on the LPGA's player of the year award is gone, the title wrested away by Mexico's Lorena Ochoa. Sorenstam almost certainly won't win the Vare Trophy for the seventh time either, with that one sure to be wrapped up by Ochoa this weekend, too.
 
There is one award she can still take this year: the money title, although its status is now diminished in Sorenstam's eyes. Yet if she wins the ADT Championship at Trump International for the third straight year, she'd claim the gaudy, LPGA-record $1 million first prize and eclipse her single-season earnings record ($2,863,904) set in 2002.
 
'I know I'm not going to get player of the year and I know I'm not going to get the Vare Trophy,' Sorenstam said Wednesday. 'So, the money list, if I can win that -- whether it means anything or nothing -- I think it'd be great.'
 
Sorenstam is among many players who believe the huge payday that awaits the winner Sunday shouldn't entirely count as official money. The $1 million first prize doubles the previous largest in LPGA history, and is roughly five times bigger than the winner's check at an average tour stop.
 
The ADT Championship is a 32-woman field, which gets cut in half for Saturday's third round. After that, it gets trimmed again, down to eight -- and the scores get wiped away, setting up a one-round, big-money shootout.
 
And it's virtually winner-take-all, with second place worth $100,000 and third $20,500.
 
'Golf's normally decided over four rounds and this year it's decided, really, over one,' said Karrie Webb, a two-time winner of this event. 'It makes for an exciting finish and none of us have ever played for a first-place, $1 million check. So I think everyone's going to be very nervous about it ... but the person who wins won't be complaining at all.'
 
Even the tournament host said he's not certain what to think of the format.
 
'We've had a tremendously successful tournament here, so I'm not sure that I like it,' real estate mogul Donald Trump said after dropping off Sorenstam from his golf cart following Wednesday's pro-am. 'I'll let you know, probably at the end of Sunday. I'm really not sure.'
 
Webb was the first LPGA player to crack the $1 million single-season earnings mark, going over that plateau in 1996 by winning this event (then known as the ITT Tour Championship) and claiming the $150,000 winner's check.
 
Now, for the first time, an LPGA player will make seven figures in four days.
 
'It's a tremendous milestone,' LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said, 'but it took too long.'
 
Still, it's going to be exciting, even for Sorenstam, whose career earnings on the LPGA Tour alone total more than $20 million.
 
She won only one of her first nine events in 2006, then captured the U.S. Women's Open. And although she says she's ready to go skiing and for the year to end, Sorenstam is playing her best golf of the year now with a win, two seconds and two thirds in her last five events.
 
And she's vowing to be better in 2007, plus knows another win would serve as a fine springboard into the offseason.
 
'It's tough to be at the top and always find new ways to practice and always find new motivation and, you know, kind of pave the way,' Sorenstam said. 'This year, I haven't really done a good job of that. But this winter, I'm going to try to find new ways to get back to where I want to be.'
 
Notes
Cristie Kerr was given the LPGA Komen Award for her work raising money for breast cancer. Kerr's mother, a breast cancer survivor, surprised her by giving her the award. ... The 2007 LPGA schedule was released Wednesday, with no announcement on the site of next year's ADT Championship. Talks are apparently ongoing. 'They want to come back very badly,' Trump said, adding that he's easy to negotiate with. Wherever it is played, the purse ($1.55 million) and first-prize payout will remain the same. ... Four players tied for ninth at last year's ADT, each taking home $22,750 -- or $2,250 more than this year's third-place finisher will pocket. ... Ochoa's birthday was Wednesday, and she was surprised with a cake after her pro-am round.
 
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