Annika with Yet Another Title Defense


2005 Office Depot ChampionshipRANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- If there is one thing Annika Sorenstam does better than successfully defend tournament titles, which she seems to do with almost flawless consistency, it might be winning 54-hole events. This week at the Office Depot Championship at Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, Sorenstam will have the opportunity to do both.
The tournament heads to the brand-new and pristine Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles this year, but the storyline from the previous year remains the same. The player to beat is two-time defending champion Sorenstam, who also sits atop the ADT Official Money List, Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy standings.
This year, Sorenstam is three-for-four in title defenses, and in her well-documented career, she has successfully defended a tournament 17 times. Additionally, she has won the last four 54-hole events in which she has competed and is 16-of-25 in three-day tournaments since 2002.
Her worst finish in her last 14 three-round events is a tie for fourth.
For her career Sorenstam has won 24 tournaments that have ended after 54 holes of competition, and she has an additional 15 runner-ups.
Not bad for someone who has publicly stated she prefers competitions that span four days and 72 holes. 'I'm more of a marathoner, not a sprinter,' Sorenstam has said on more than one occasion.
But Sorenstam has won the 'sprint' at the Office Depot Championship the past two years, and a win this week would be the fourth of her career.
Sorenstam has won 18 tournaments in her career more than once, but she has only gone back-to-back-to-back three times and has only won two tournaments four times. She could do both this week.
However, let's not hand the hardware to Sorenstam just yet. A new course and new challengers await her this year. The equally posh and difficult Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles is hosting the tournament for the first time, which would seemingly take away some of Sorenstam's advantage since she won two of her titles at El Cabellero Country Club, which hosted the tournament the previous three years.
Besides a new course, Sorenstam will also have to contend with 143 other players, who all want to knock her from her perch atop women's golf.
First among them is Paula Creamer. At 19, Creamer is the youngest player on Tour, but her game is anything but immature. With two wins this year and an additional seven top-six finishes, Creamer has already wrapped up the Louise Suggs Roles Rookie of the Year honors and now has her eyes set on Sorenstam's number-one ranking.
Creamer is fearless on the course and has the attitude and mindset to be number one. Now all she has to do is get there, and to do that she has to take down Sorenstam. She has already done that once this year, at the Evian Masters, when she cruised to an eight-shot victory with Sorenstam in the field.
She also led the U.S. Team to a victory over Europe in The Solheim Cup.
Her 3-1-1 record was second best in the competition, but it was Sorenstam who tallied the most points with a 4-1-0 mark. Then two weeks ago, at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic, Creamer made a Sunday charge at Sorenstam but faltered late with bogeys on two of the last three holes. Sorenstam would also drop two shots on the final three holes, but she still salvaged a one-shot win over Creamer.
With seven wins and nearly $2 million in earnings, Sorenstam has gotten the best of the young Creamer, but with every new week arises new opportunities, and Creamer is sure to be ready to capitalize on that opportunity this week. Of course, Sorenstam, who appears to forget about her previous 63-career LPGA wins the moment she steps on the course, will be ready too.
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