Sorenstam hit the pavement running making birdies on two of her first three holes of the day. By the time she made the turn she had bested the rest of the field by a comfortable five stroke lead at 20-under-par, after shooting a 31 on the front side.
That wasn't enough for the tenacious Swede. She burned up the course on the backside as well. By the 16th she had reached 23-under-par, broken the course record that she and Pat Hurst set last year of 19-under-par, and it looked as if her goal was to break all time 72-hole record.
Sorenstam comments on her Welch's/Circle K win.
On the 18th, Sorenstam left her approach shot short of the green. Undaunted, the former University of Arizona teammate made her way up to her ball waiving her Wildcat head cover in the air. She got the ball up and down with a solid chip that left her with a 12-foot putt.
At 23-under and 12-feet away from the hole, Annika was tied with four others for posting the second all time lowest 72-hole score. Karrie Webb recorded the lowest score of 26-under-par 262 at the 1999 Australian Ladies Masters.
Sorenstam was denied a birdie after her putt lipped out of the hole. She settled for par on the last, 7-under-par 65 for the final round and her first win since last July.
I'll tell you an interesting story,' Annika said. 'I went to dinner Tuesday night and opened a fortune cookie and the fortune read `Your goals will come true this week.' Then the next night I went to a different restaurant, and believe it or not, my fortune cookie read the exact same fortune.'
She is now the proud owner of two, solid copper mesquite tree trophies. Asked if Sorenstam would use her trophies as book ends the champion quipped 'Yeah, now I'll just have to get some books.'
Six shots off the lead, Se Ri Pak was unable to put any pressure on Annika today. 'It was pretty hard to catch Annika because she was on fire today,' Pak said after her round.
Pak could have held sole possession of second but for a missed birdie putt on the 18th. She finish tied for second at 17-under-par 271. 'I don't know what happened,' Pak said of her missed putt. 'It looked like it was OK but then it just didn't go in.'
Jen Hanna had a tough day today. Paired with Dottie Pepper, Hanna shot a disappointing 4-over-par to finish the tournament in the middle of the pack at 9-under-par 279.
Pepper finished tied for second at 17-under par 271 after sinking a spectacular 50-foot putt. Just moment's prior, the fiery Pepper showed physical disgust with the results of her bunker shot. Undeterred by her bad lie, she got the ball up and down leaving her with the long putt that she ultimately made.
Donning flamingo pink pants, Michelle McGann had fun with the gallery as she made her way around the course shooting 8-under-par 64 in the process and finishing the tournament tied with four others in second place at 17-under-par 271.
Amateur Lorena Ochoa of Guatemala, Mexico shot 7-under-par 65 during the final round to record her first top ten finish. She carded a bogey free round to finish the tournament tied with Nancy Scranton and Julie Inkster at 12-under-par 276.
Ochoa, a freshman at the University of Arizona, received a sponsor's exemption into the Tucson event and chose to play in it over the Mexican Amateur Championship. 'It was a hard decision in the beginning, but it was the best decision for me,' she said. ' I decided it is time to move forward. I stand by my decision, and I am happy with it.'
This is only the second professional event the young amateur has played in. The first was the 2000 U.S. Women's Open where she shot 75-78 153 to miss the cut. 'It has been an incredible week. I really enjoyed playing,' said the 19-year-old. Everything was working for me today.'
Ochoa is playing in this year's U.S. Women's Open on a sponsors' exemption. 'It is one of the majors and I am honored to be one of the amateur's playing in it.'
News & Notes
*Pearl Sinn aced the 189 yard par-3 11th using her 7-wood.
*Sorenstam was winless for the last 11 tournaments she competed in yet managed to record 9 top tens.