Sorenstam Wins in Return

RSS

AURORA, Ill. (AP) -- The question was never whether Annika Sorenstam was going to win, but by how much.
 
Playing in her first LPGA Tour event since her historic rounds at the Colonial, Sorenstam breezed to a three-stroke victory in the Kellogg-Keebler Classic on Sunday.
 
Though she bogeyed her final two holes, she'd built up such a big lead it hardly mattered. She finished with a 1-under 71, giving her a 17-under 199 for the 54-hole tournament.
 
'Obviously I'm very, very pleased,' she said. 'It's been a great week, and to come back and perform the way I did is pretty much incredible.'
 
Mhairi McKay had four birdies on the back nine, but a triple bogey on the front had all but ended her chances. McKay shot even par, finishing three strokes back at 14-under 202.
 
It was Sorenstam's second victory of the year on the LPGA Tour -- her 44th overall. Sorenstam earned $180,000 with the win, putting her back in first place on the money list with $734,501.
 
Though Sorenstam missed the cut at the Colonial, her grace under unbelievable pressure won her millions of fans worldwide. And many were out in force Sunday. More than 22,000 people came out for the final round -- most just to see Sorenstam. They wore the now-familiar 'Go Annika!' buttons, and followed her from hole to hole as if she was the Pied Piper.
 
As she walked up the fairway on the fourth hole, a group of kids on the balcony of one of the huge homes lining the course screamed, 'We love you, Annika!' Sorenstam grinned and waved at them as the crowd laughed.
 
Even tournament volunteers got in on the lovefest. They followed her up the 18th fairway, a sea of red the backdrop for her victory. When she made her final putt, she skipped backward with a big grin on her face and tossed her ball into the crowd.
 
Sorenstam ran away with the inaugural Kellogg-Keebler Classic last year, winning by 11 strokes and matching the tour record for relation to par in a 54-hole event with a 21-under 195. She looked as if she was going to shatter that record Sunday, making birdies on her first two holes.
 
Counting the five she made to close her round Saturday, she had seven birdies in a row.
 
But then, just as she did Saturday, she ran into problems with her putter. On the par-3 No. 3, she landed about 10 feet above the hole with her tee shot, almost a certain gimme. But the ball slid by the edge of the cup, running a foot long.
 
On the par-4 No. 7, she misfired on her second shot and landed in some thick rough inches above a bunker next to the green. She got within 10 feet of the pin on her next shot, but her par putt was long by about 18 inches and she had her first bogey of the day.
 
It was the first time this week she had a bogey on the front nine.
 
She got to 19-under after chipping within two inches on the par-5 14th, but things got rough after that. She missed her birdie putt on the 15th, and three-putted for a bogey on the 17th.
 
She pushed her tee shot on the 18th into fescue off of the left side of the fairway, and took a stroke for an unplayable lie. She got back out into the fairway, only to misfire and land in a bunker on the left side of the green. She blasted out, waving as if to push the ball along, but it stopped about 18 feet short of the hole and she had to settle for another bogey.
 
But it was still good enough for a win, thanks to McKay's early misfortunes. McKay began the day two strokes back, and any hope she had of challenging Sorenstam faded with her triple-bogey on the par-4 No. 4.
 
On her second shot, McKay overflew the green, yelling, 'Sit, sit, please sit!' as the ball sailed ahead. Her pleas didn't do any good, though, and the ball landed in some deep rough and bushes down a slope behind the green.
 
She took a drop but then duffed her chip shot, moving it only about 20 feet. She chipped on within two feet and made the putt, but went from five strokes behind Sorenstam to eight back.
 
She ran into more trouble on the par-5 No. 9, landing in the water when she went for the green on her second shot and making bogey.
 
'I really wanted to push Annika today,' said McKay, who also finished second last year. 'The start wasn't really what I wanted. But I'm proud of myself for hanging in there and finishing strong.'
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Kellogg-Kebbler Classic
  • Full coverage of the Kellogg-Keebler Classic
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.