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Annika Sorenstam falls to Derek Lowe in celeb playoff, but hopes effort inspired kids

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Annika Sorenstam was looking for that one swing thought. The one swing thought that would carry her to victory in the celebrity portion of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

She eventually found what she was looking for, though it didn’t result in another title for arguably the greatest female player of all-time.

“I had been really searching for that swing thought all week, and then I hit a bad second shot on [No.] 5 and I felt something,” Sorenstam said Sunday afternoon, noting that she discussed the thought with her husband/caddie Mike McGee.

“[W]e just decided, why not just kind of keep your left elbow in coming through. After that, I actually played quite well the last 13 holes. Wish I would've found that earlier, but I [have] been trying for quite some time to find the right thought that I could repeat.”

After three bogeys in her first five holes in the final round at her home course at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Sorenstam played her final 13 holes in 1 under, with four birdies and three bogeys.


Full-field scores from the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions


In the modified Stableford scoring format, a birdie was worth three points, a par worth two and a bogey netted one point. Sorenstam entered the final hole trailing former pitching ace Derek Lowe by two points. The 72-time LPGA Tour winner got up and down for par to force a playoff, both players at 138 total points over four days.

In the extra session, Lowe made a long par putt on the first hole to which Sorenstam couldn’t match. Lowe picked up the victory and the $100,000 first-place prize.

"It is honestly like one of the biggest events I've ever been part of or win," said Lowe, who won a World Series ring with the Boston Red Sox in 2004. "To play against Annika Sorenstam, how many people can say that, in a playoff, and to prevail? It was a great day."

Sorenstam stated afterwards that she would not be competing in the upcoming Gainbridge LPGA event, in which she made the cut last year when it was contested at Lake Nona (it’s in Boca Raton, Florida, this year).

All she really wanted to think about late Sunday afternoon was getting warm and getting some rest.

“It is just nice to come back. Now I'm tired. I know that tonight I'm going to put my feet up and going to crash. When you don't play that well you're really on your toes all the time. It's up and downs that matter,” said the Sorenstam, who won last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

“So, yeah, I'm just pooped right now. Just going to relax and do nothing.”

And though she didn’t leave with another trophy to add to her collection, she did hope that her gritty performance would have an impact on her kids, 9-year-old son Will and 12-year-old daughter Ava.

“Hopefully they get something out of this week, that I didn't give up and I kept trying, and that's really what life is about,” Sorenstam said. “You might not have all the best tools in your bag, get all the best bounces, but keep on fighting and you never know what's going to happen.”