Annika the Best but Not Invincible

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Annika Sorenstam is vincible. Its actually a word. I looked it up. It means exactly what you think it would mean: the opposite of invincible.
 
Sorenstam held a three-stroke lead entering the final round of this past weeks Evian Masters in Evian-les-Baines, France. And, for some reason, the rest of the field still decided to wake up and play 18 holes Saturday, the final day of the tournament, instead of hopping on a plane and getting a jump on the upcoming Womens British Open in England.
 
And, you know what? Annika lost. To Wendy Doolan. Thats unpossible! (OK, thats not a word.) But what was thought to be impossible was just improbable, and in the end quite possible.
 
Sorenstam is the most fearful figure on any respective tour. Tiger Woods owned that title of intimidation until recently. But players no longer shriek and shrivel when Woods name nears the top of the leaderboard.
 
That was obvious earlier this year when Woods held the outright 36-hole lead in back-to-back weeks, at the Wachovia Championship and EDS Byron Nelson Championship, and failed to win either.
 
Time and again, Woods has won by simply being the front-runner. He's posted mediocre scores and not been tackled from behind because others were afraid to get close to him.
 
But no one backed down from Woods at the Wachovia ' even though they were well aware that he had won 18 consecutive PGA Tour events when holding at least a share of the midway lead.
 
This time, he wasn't able to get away with mediocrity.
 
And after seeing him finally fail to close, it had to be a little easier to stare him down in Dallas the following weekend.
 
Yet despite Tigers failures this season, he has yet to blow a 54-hole lead. Yet. That may be because he has yet to hold a 54-hole lead this season. And if he were to do that ' stumble as a pacesetter on Sunday, that would surely be the surest sign that Superman has entered his Fortress of Solitude and become mortal ' that Tiger, too, is vincible.
 
Woods has had some quite memorable and dramatic come-from-behind performances in his career ' just ask Steve Scott or Matt Gogel. But he became golfs Intimidator by consistently, opportunity after opportunity sealing the deal on Sunday. Thirty-two times on the PGA Tour he has held at least a share of the lead entering the final round; 30 times he has won.
 
Sorenstam, on the other hand, isnt as surefire a bet to finish what she started.
 
She has 55 times (according to golfstats.com) taken at least a share of the lead into the final round on the LPGA Tour and 34 times come out victorious.
 
Fifty-five times?!? Thats a staggering amount, but you have to consider this includes 18 times when she held the lead heading into the final round in a 54-hole event and 37 times when she did the same in a 72-hole event.
 
The key to finishing ahead of the Mighty Annika, when shes nearing the summit, ready to plant her flag, is to extend the race to the top.
 
At least thats the story the statistics tell.
 
You might think that the longer the event ' 72 holes as opposed to 54 holes, the greater the advantage it would be to Annika. After all, there is less likelihood for an upset with an additional 18 holes tacked on at the end.
 
But Sorenstam seems to fare better in the 800 meters than in the mile.
 
She has won 12 of the last 13 ' and eight straight ' when holding at least of share of the lead heading into the final round of a 54-hole tournament. For her career, she is 13-for-18 in converting such leads into victory.
 
By contrast, she has won only six of the last 13 tournaments when taking at least a share of the lead into the final round of a 72-hole event. She is 21-for-37 under this scenario.
 
What does it all say? Well, it says that Annika has put herself in position to win an unbelievable amount of times. It says that 34 of her 52 career LPGA Tour victories have come when setting the final-round pace. That means she has 18 come-from-behind victories on the LPGA Tour. Woods, by comparison, has 38 career stroke-play victories (and two Match Play titles) on the PGA Tour, and only eight have been by way of comeback.
 
It says that you should be fearful of Annika when she lurks behind you, and hopeful when shes ahead.
 
And it says that, amazingly, she could have many more titles to her credit.
 
Yes, Annika Sorenstam is better ' and more intimidating to her peers ' than anyone on any tour. But she is vincible, as well.
 
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