Annika Looks for Return to Winners Circle


2005 John Q Hammons Hotel ClassicBROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- Three months removed from her last LPGA Tour win, Annika Sorenstam is looking for a strong finish to her season.
The top-ranked Sorenstam was in the same situation when she arrived at Cedar Ridge Country Club last year, and went on to win four of her final six events.
She won the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic by four strokes, and posted victories at the Samsung World Championship, the Mizuno Classic and the ADT Championship.
Sorenstam won six of the first eight LPGA events she entered this year, but has gone five straight events without a victory. She won the Scandinavian TPC, a European Tour event she hosts in Sweden, then finished second at the Wendy's Championship last month and went 4-1 at the Solheim Cup last week.
And like last year, her most recent LPGA Tour win heading into the Hammons Classic came in June, at the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
``It seems like I get my second wind by the end of the year,'' Sorenstam said Thursday after playing nine holes during a pro-am at Cedar Ridge. ``I've had a nice little break after my trip to Europe. I played one event and I saw my coach the next week, so I feel like I'm ready to finish strong. I really do.''
It would be easy to question Sorenstam's motivation heading into the event. She leads Cristie Kerr by more than $500,000 on the money list and her 282 points are nearly twice Kerr's 143 in the player of the year standings.
``There's a lot at stake,'' Sorenstam said. ``We're talking player of the year. We're talking money list. You want to play well this part of the year.''
Admittedly, she's also focused a little on posterity. Her true career goal now is winning the Grand Slam. She won the first two majors this season before struggling at the U.S. Open.
``I know I can win the Grand Slam,'' she said. ``I'm just going to try and figure out how to do it. ... The next few months, that's what's going to be on my mind.''
Sorenstam has won two of the four LPGA events held in Tulsa. She won in 2002, when the event was held at the Tulsa Country Club, and again last year when it moved to Cedar Ridge in the southeast suburb of Broken Arrow. With a win this week, the Hammons Classic would become the 10th event Sorenstam has won three times or more.
She says she feels comfortable at the event, in part because she's been able to find restaurants and a gym that she likes in town.
``It's good to have positive feelings when you come to a place,'' she said.
Sorenstam said she considers the 6,551-yard layout one of the toughest stops on tour, although rain Thursday morning could change how it plays.
``It's very, very wet,'' Sorenstam said. ``You can get a lot of roll off the drive. You can play straight at the pin. The course is playing very, very different than last year.
``Hopefully, by the weekend, it will dry and it will play a little different.''
The tournament's field also includes 2003 winner Karrie Webb, British Open champion Jeong Jang and rookie Paula Creamer, who helped the U.S. beat Sorenstam and the Europeans in last week's Solheim Cup.
Creamer, the world's No. 3 player, made her first visit to Cedar Ridge as an amateur last year and finished 9 over. She shot a 7-over 78 in the opening round, but bounced back with a par 71 to make the cut.
After two wins this season, Creamer said she's a different player and feels more positive this time around.
``I've seen it and I know what it takes to win on this course,'' Creamer said.
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