Annika Wins Third Leg of Grand Slam

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WILMINGTON, Del. -- Annika Sorenstam overcame a problem putter, a week of rain, and a pugnacious Grace Park to win her fifth major Sunday. But she has become a tougher player, a more confident player, since she played with the men at Colonial three weeks ago, and she simply would not be denied on this day when her ship was threatening on every hole of the final nine to spring a leak.
 
Sorenstam had a five-shot lead when the final round finally began Sunday afternoon, but Parks 67 forced this one into overtime. It ended on the first playoff hole when Park was short of the green on her approach and eventually took a bogey. Sorenstam sent a 6-iron into the heart of the green and two-putted for the victory in a major that she won for the first time in a 10-year career of 45 victories.

This means a lot because I always felt like I could play here, she said. It wasnt until maybe last year when I put a really low score together (65 Sunday) that I really felt like I can do it here.
 
Then the second round here this week really proved it. So just looking at that trophy with all those names, prestigious players that have won this championship, I wanted to be on that list.
 
Sorenstams 64 in the second round had vaulted her into the lead, and storms which raked the course Saturday meant that she could play only three holes before play was suspended. She resumed play at 7:30 Sunday morning and completed her third round. It appeared she was in complete control until she missed three putts inside five feet the first five holes.
 
Sometimes I have a hard time lining up, she explained. When my caddie started helping me, I was hitting much better putts. I think I got confidence that I am aimed where I want to.
 
While she was struggling, Park was sizzling. By the time Park had ripped a 3-wood and sunk a 10-foot putt for eagle at No. 12, she had tied Sorenstam at 5-under for the lead.
 
Of course, Park knew that was one that got her to the top. Oh yeah, she said, I was watching it (the scoreboard) all the way.
 
Park had toured the front nine in 33 to close in while Sorenstam was obviously out-of-sync in scoring a 2-over 37. But from the 12th hole on, this was obviously match play as no one else was within four shots of the lead.
 
The two fought off a handful of bogeys on the back, saving par to keep the score tied until Park made a birdie on the par-3 17th. She launched an 8-iron from 156 yards to six feet, then stroked the putt dead-center for the birdie, moving her to 6-under and into a one-shot lead.
 
Sorenstam heard the roar from up ahead, but she did not immediately know that it was Park who birdied.
 
There was 33 percent chance that it was Grace, I guess, said Annika with a chuckle. I figured the way she had been playing all day, most likely it was her.
 
But Sorenstam, playing two holes behind Park, retaliated with a birdie of her own moments later on the par-5 16th. Her second shot went into a greenside bunker, but her explosion shot drifted up to within two feet. The putt once again tied her for a lead she had held since the second round.

Park finished her round 30 minutes before Sorenstam and Sorenstam said later that may have made a difference. I felt Grace had waited a little bit just watching the scoreboard for awhile, maybe she was a little cold from the rain, so I felt like I was ' I had the momentum on my side.
 
Both women hit good drives on the playoff hole, Sorenstam 25 yards ahead of Park. Park, playing first, hit a 4-iron a little fat from 200 yards and the ball died in the rough short of the green. Sorenstam hit a 6-iron from 175 and put it on the green, 25 feet from the hole.
 
I knew that I had to hit a good one to get to the pin, said Park, and I just tried to get a little too aggressive and chunked it. I ended up short of the bunker in the rough, and it was just plugged in very deep.
 
I was just going to play aggressively, Sorenstam said, denying that she changed strategy when she saw Parks approach wind up in the rough. The pin was in the middle, so I was aiming for the middle anyway, so I just thought I would go ahead and hit a good shot. I hit it very solid and I knew it was up there somewhere.
 
But its never over til its over, and the way Grace played today, I figured she was going to make her putt.
 
Parks chip rolled 15 feet past the pin. And Sorenstam was wrong ' Parks putt drifted off to the right and she made bogey. Sorenstam putted to within two feet, then sunk it and went into an uproarious celebration, leaping and hopping 20 feet to give her caddie a big hug.
 
Its been a busy three weeks, thats for sure, said Sorenstam, looking back to Colonial, and then to her win last week in the LPGAs Kellogg-Keebler Classic.
 
I mean, things are really going my way. I am obviously very pleased with that. I really wanted this championship, and last week was ' it was tough to get back from all the hoopla at Colonial. And then I played so solidly there, and I was hoping that I wasnt ' that I wasnt just hot for one week. I wanted it to be another week, that it would continue to this week, because this week has been a priority of mine since the beginning of the year.
 
The major win means now that Sorenstam only needs the Womens British Open to complete the career grand slam.
 
When I want something badly, I just keep on going, she said. And I have said for a long time that I love what I do, and there is still some things I want to achieve.
 
And when I get the chance, in particular this week, when I am right there, its right in front of me, I just dont want to let go. I just keep on going.
 
Related Links
  • Bio: Annika Sorenstam
  • Full-field scores from the McDonald's LPGA Championship
  • Full coverage of the McDonald's LPGA Championship