Annika Captures Corning Classic


04 LPGA Corning ClassicCORNING, N.Y. -- Annika Sorenstam birdied four of her final nine holes Sunday to close a round of 4-under 68 and win the LPGA Corning Classic. Sorenstam completed the event at 18-under-par 270.
'I'm very, very pleased. And what can I say more than I love to win,' said Sorenstam, who picked up $150,000 for the win. 'It's a thrill to have a chance to win on Sunday. I got off to a tough start, but on the back nine I played good again. Seems like the back nine fits me here. It was fun.'
Michelle Estill, who held the lead after the second and third rounds, managed a 1-under 71 to finish at 16-under-par 272. She was joined in second place by Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, who closed with a 67. LPGA Tour rookie Shi Hyun Ahn, Soo Young Moon and Wendy Ward ended three strokes back at minus-13.
Sorenstam entered the round one shot behind Estill and fell four shots behind her playing partner on the front nine.
The Swede opened with a birdie at the second, but tripped to a three-putt bogey at the very next hole. Sorenstam dropped to 13 under with a bogey at the par-4 sixth. That was her last mistake though.
'I think it came to a point where I got totally frustrated with myself, feeling that I couldn't produce anything,' Sorenstam said. 'Walking away with the bogey on six was maybe a turning point because I made a nice par on seven.'
Sorenstam drained a 9-foot birdie at the ninth and made it two straight when she sank a three-foot birdie putt at No. 10. She climbed to 16 under with a birdie at the par-5 12th at Corning Country Club.
Estill bogeyed the following hole, to create a three-way tie for the lead at minus-16. Goetze-Ackerman had also birdied the 12th to get to 16 under par.
Sorenstam took over from there. She birdied the par-5 14th and moved two clear of the field with another birdie from 8 feet out at the 16th. She parred the final two holes to clinch her 51st career LPGA Tour win.
'I cherish every win. I work very hard for every win, and they all have a special place in my heart,' said Sorenstam. 'Who knows, I might never win again, you never know. You can never take anything for granted.'
Estill, who was looking for her first tour win since 1991, birdied the second and fourth to climb to minus-17. She faltered to a bogey at the eighth and another at the 10th.
The 41-year-old Estill dropped in back-to-back birdies from the 11th, but trouble loomed. She dropped another stroke with a bogey at the 13th. She closed with five straight pars to end two behind Sorenstam.
'I had a great time today,' said Estill, whose last top 10 was a tie for eighth at the 2001 Betsy King Classic. 'I didn't play as well, but boy I had a lot of fun. It was fun to battle with Annika out there, and she played better today, and it was fun to be in the hunt.'
Goetze-Ackerman birdied three of her first five holes to jump to 14 under. She picked up her fourth birdie at the par-4 ninth. She grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie at the 12th, but only managed to par her final six holes. Goetze-Ackerman had a chance to take the lead on 16th, but missed her birdie try.
'I felt pretty good about my day,' said Goetze-Ackerman. 'Obviously, I wanted to shoot at least 5 under. I thought if I shot 5 under I would have a chance. I didn't think it would be enough, and it wasn't, but I felt like I at least gave myself a chance to win out there.'
Laura Diaz fired a final-round 68 to end the event alone in seventh place at 12-under-par 276. Carin Koch, Kelli Kuehne and Catriona Matthew finished two strokes behind her at minus-10.
Juli Inkster, the 2003 champion, closed with a 2-under 70. She ended the event at 5-under-par 283, where she shared 28th place.
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