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Sorenstam Starts Off Smokin

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Annika Sorenstam posted a 2-under 70 on Sunday to cruise to victory at the Safeway International. She finished at 18-under-par 270 and won by four strokes over Cristie Kerr.
Michelle WieSorenstam collected her first win of the short 2004 season. This title was No. 49 and that moved her into sixth place on the all-time LPGA Tour victories list, one more than Nancy Lopez.
'I woke up early because the wind was howling at my window, so I knew it was going to be a tough day,' said Sorenstam, who pocketed $180,000 for the win. 'It seemed like the wind was strong all day long, and it made the course so different and so much tougher.'
Kerr carded a 1-under 71 on Sunday and came in at 14-under-par 274. Lorena Ochoa and Grace Park each managed rounds of even-par 72 and tied for third place at 11-under-par 277.
Michelle Wie, the teenage phenom who played in the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Hawaii this season, struggled to a 5-over 77 in the final round and tied for 19th place at minus-2.
'Nothing was working at all today,' she said. 'I mean absolutely nothing.'
Sorenstam was two ahead when she began her final round and missed a four- footer for par at the first. That would be the last mistake the top player in the world would make.
With heavy winds blowing through Superstition Mountain course ,no player was making a move at Sorenstam. The Swede hit a beautiful approach to three feet at the fifth, then sank the birdie putt to reach 16 under par.
Sorenstam played solidly throughout the middle of her round, making pars from holes six through 12. At the 13th, Sorenstam drained a 12-footer for birdie, then made it two in a row with a tap-in birdie at the short, par-4 14th hole.
Sorenstam was now four shots clear of the field as Kerr also made back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 in the group ahead of Sorenstam. Sorenstam, who won this event in 2001 when she became the first LPGA player to shoot 59, found trouble with a bogey at 16, but the No. 1 player in the world had one more trick up her sleeve.
At the par-5 18th, Sorenstam took iron off the tee and laid up with her second shot. She knocked a wedge from 100 yards out to 20 feet, then canned the birdie putt to make it a four-shot win in her first start of the 2004 campaign.
'Now I'm tired, just because I've been thinking all day and working so hard,' Sorenstam said. 'But it's also a lot of fun. This is where you really have to control over your ball.'
Kerr also faltered early in her round Sunday with a pair of bogeys at her first two holes. She rebounded with birdies at No. 6 and 7 and mixed two birdies and a bogey the rest of the way.
She could not get close to Sorenstam's lead, but a solo second is Kerr's highest finish since last year's Michelob Light Open in early May.
'When you're playing against Annika, even under tough conditions, you have to be on top of your game,' said Kerr. 'I didn't feel like I was on top of my game today.'
Shi Hyun Ahn, the 19-year-old tour rookie, struggled to a 5-over 77 in Sunday's final pairing with Sorenstam. Ahn finished the tournament at 9-under-par 279 and tied for fifth place with 2003 champion Se Ri Pak, who carded a final-round, 2-over-par 74.
Laura Davies hit two drives out of bounds on the 18th en route to a 4-over 76. She finished alone in seventh place at minus-7.
Brandie Burton (72), Lorie Kane (73), Donna Andrews (73), Michele Redman (73) and Wendy Ward (73) tied for eighth place at 5-under-par 283.
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