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A Special Win for Sorenstam

She makes several clutch shots down the stretch of regulation, then beats Park in playoff to win LPGA Championship, her fifth major title.

June 09, 2003|From Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Del. — Annika Sorenstam faced this kind of pressure at Colonial, only this time she didn't miss the cut -- she won a major.

Three weeks after testing her game on the PGA Tour, Sorenstam came up with clutch shots down the stretch Sunday and was flawless in the playoff, making a routine par on the toughest hole to beat Grace Park and win the LPGA Championship.

Sorenstam won her fifth major among 45 career victories, and had to work harder than ever for this one.

Leading by four shots going into the final round at waterlogged DuPont Country Club, she closed with a one-over-par 72 and had to make a par on No. 18 in regulation with a seven-wood from the first cut of rough just to get into a playoff.

"She kept the pressure on me," Sorenstam said. "I made it when I needed to."

Park came up short of the 18th green in the playoff and missed a 12-foot par putt that would have extended the playoff. Sorenstam, who hit a six-iron to 20 feet, tapped in her par putt and skipped across the green and into the arms of her caddie, Terry McNamara.

The reason she became the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour was to elevate her game for moments like this.

Sorenstam won't get any style points for this one, but she'll take it. The McDonald's LPGA Championship is one of two majors she had never won.

A victory this summer in the Women's British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes would make her the fourth woman in the modern era to complete the career Grand Slam.

Park also came through in her first time in contention at a major championship.

She was seven strokes behind when she arrived at DuPont early Sunday morning to complete the rain-delayed third round and finished off a 70 to move closer to Sorenstam.

Park poured it on in the final round, closing with a four-under 67 that often looked like it would be good enough to win.

But Sorenstam didn't buckle.

The crowd wasn't nearly as large as the one gathered around the 10th tee at Colonial, but the shot she hit in the playoff was equally important.

Park was already in the fairway. Any ball in the thick, wet grass would have meant trouble.

The 32-year-old Swede was as calm as ever, splitting the middle of the fairway about 25 yards beyond Park.

Sorenstam finished at six-under 278 and earned $240,000 for the victory.

Park, in a playoff for the first time on tour, matched her best score in a major. She also had a 67 at the 1999 U.S. Women's Open as an amateur.

They were the only players who finished under par. Rosie Jones (71), Rachel Teske (71) and Beth Daniel (72) tied for third at even-par 284.

Foreign-born players have won 12 of the last 15 majors on the LPGA Tour.

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