Sorenstam Makes First Career Defense Against Top Field


Five-year LPGA Tour veteran Charlotta Sorenstam is making her first LPGA career title defense at this week's Standard Register PING, March 15-18, at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix. Sorenstam, who became a Rolex First-Time Winner last year, will face 96 of the top 100 players on the LPGA Tour in the 72-hole event. She won the 2000 title with a 276 (-12), two shots better than 2000 Rolex Player of the Year Karrie Webb, who was the hottest player on Tour at that time, and ending Webb's three-tournament winning streak in 2000.
After playing the 2000 tournament at The Legacy Golf Resort, the tournament returns to a newly renovated Moon Valley Country Club. In addition, the players are competing for $1 million.
Joining Charlotta Sorenstam in the Standard Register PING field are nine past tournament champions, six 2001 tournament winners and six LPGA Tour Hall of Famers. In addition to four-time Standard Register PING champion Laura Davies, who holds the LPGA record for most consecutive wins at the same event (1994-97), the past champions in the field are: two-time champion Danielle Ammaccapane (1991-92); LPGA Tour Hall of Famers Beth Daniel (1982), Betsy King (1985) and Patty Sheehan (1993); Mary Beth Zimmerman (1986); Allison Finney (1989); and Liselotte Neumann (1998). The 2001 LPGA Tour champions competing this week are Se Ri Pak (YourLife Vitamins LPGA Classic); Sophie Gustafson (Subaru Memorial of Naples); Grace Park (The Office Depot); Lorie Kane (LPGA Takefuji Classic); Catriona Matthew (Cup Noodles Ladies Hawaiian Open) and Annika Sorenstam (Welch's/Circle K Championship). The six LPGA Tour Hall of Fame members are Amy Alcott, JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez, Daniel, King and Sheehan
The seven rookies who are teeing it up are Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year points leader Heather Zakhar, Beth Bader, Tamie Durdin, Michelle Ellis, Nan Kyong Ha, Dodie Mazzuca and Angela Stanford.
Last year, Annika Sorenstam and Webb fired five-under-par 67s during first-round action to take a one-shot lead over Dottie Pepper and Mi Hyun Kim. In the second round, Annika Sorenstam held the lead by one-shot with a 135 (-9) total, but Webb and sister Charlotta Sorenstam followed one shot back, with Charlotta Sorenstam tying the tournament record with an eight-under-par 64. Annika Sorenstam turned in a one-over-par 73 in the third round, while Charlotta Sorenstam and Webb both shot 72 to tie Annika Sorenstam at the top of the leaderboard with a 54-hole total of 208 (-8) heading into the final 18 holes of play.
In the final round, Charlotta Sorenstam overcame her own nerves and carded five birdies and a lone bogey to earn her first career title. At one point during the round, Webb was tied with Charlotta Sorenstam at 11-under-par. However, on the par-4 16th hole Webb dropped from the co-leader position after posting a bogey; Webb's second shot went into the greenside bunker, and she knocked her sand shot about six feet past the hole and onto the fringe. Webb made one last attempt for the title on the final hole, but again her second shot found the greenside bunker. She blasted the ball out of the bunker, missed her 10-foot birdie putt and finished with a final-round, two-under-par 70 and second place. Charlotta Sorenstam finished strong with a 15-foot birdie putt.
Annika Sorenstam finished third 281 (-7), after a final round 73, marking only the second time in her LPGA career she finished behind her sister. Leta Lindley and Carin Koch tied for fourth at 282 (-6), while Joan Pitcock, Hiromi Kobayashi, Jane Geddes, Mi Hyun Kim and King tied for sixth at 283 (-5).