Sorenstam Mounts Fourth Defense


Annika Sorenstam launches into her fourth consecutive LPGA defense of the year at The Office Depot Hosted by Amy Alcott. A full field of 144 player have gathered at the El Caballero Country Club near Los Angeles to compete for a piece of the $1 million purse.
Tournament host Amy Alcott is among those scheduled to play. Laura Davies, Laura Diaz, Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb have also committed to the event.
A full 10 strokes off the lead last year, Sorenstam breezed around the 6,349-yard par-72 course to record a final round of 66 and overtake first- and second-round leader Pat Hurst by one stroke.
Even after making up a 10-stroke deficit, her work was not finished. At 6-under-par, Sorenstam found herself in a sudden-death playoff with Mi Hyun Kim - who shot a final round of 65 to match the Swede's score.
On the first and only playoff hole, the par-3 18th, Kim fired her tee shot into the left greenside bunker. Sorenstams drive was straight and true, landing 14-feet from the cup. Kim fell short on her chip shot and then rolled her par putt past the hole. She finished with a disappointing bogey while Sorenstam two-putted for par.
Once again Sorenstam emerged the victor.
The defending champion comes into this event with two LPGA wins this season. The question that arises is whether or not she can recreate last seasons magic at the 54-hole event.
Is Annikas heart in the fourth of her eight defenses this year?
There has been much talk about Sorenstams change of focus this year. Indeed her paradigm has shifted from racking up wins to winning majors. This is a different year and Ive got some different goals, the No. 1 player in the world said. One of those goals is to perform better in the majors.
What this says about her performance in non-majors is unknown, but one thing is clear. To date, the Kraft Nabisco Championship is her only successful defense of the season.
Although things did not come together this year for Sorenstam in the first two of her four straight defenses, the third time proved to be a charm. And now Sorenstam, fresh off a win at the first major of the year, says she is playing as well now as she did last year when she won the four consecutive events. I actually ' I think Im hitting the ball a little further, a little more solid, she said last week.
It has yet to be determined what all of this means for this weeks evnet. Hopefully it equates to the type of brilliant performance spectators have come to expect from this professional.