That whooshing sound Saturday afternoon was the Annika Sorenstam bandwagon as it shifted into high gear, picked up speed and plowed through Mission Hills Country Club on its way toward a date with history.
After Sorenstam's six-under-par 66 in the third round -- the low round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship -- they're probably going to clasp a tracking device on her ankle just so she doesn't run off and disappear.
With 18 holes left today at Rancho Mirage, Sorenstam has a five-shot lead over Rosie Jones and is closer to what would be an LPGA-record-tying fifth consecutive victory.
Clearly, that's not the ideal situation for all those trying to run her down from behind.
"She's the last person you want to have a five-shot lead," Jones said. "Unfortunately, that's the scenario."
While nothing's guaranteed on the golf course, Sorenstam comes about as close as you can get, which is what happens when you have only one bogey in your last 35 holes.
But here's the part that should get everyone's attention: Sorenstam said that as far as a consistent level, she has never played better.
She's won 58 times and now she says she's playing her best?
This may be part of the reason why Sorenstam picked up another fan along the way.
"I say, 'You go, girl,' " Michelle Wie said. "She's awesome. I'm also 13 shots behind, so I can say that."
So far, Sorenstam has been nearly perfect. If she wins today, not only will she will have won five straight tournaments and seven of her last nine, it will be her eighth major title and her third Kraft Nabisco title in a spectacular 12-year-career.
An eighth major would also tie Sorenstam with Betsy Rawls for fifth place on the LPGA's list of major winners. Patty Berg leads with 15.
If Sorenstam stays ahead of Jones, Cristie Kerr, Mi Hyun Kim and the rest, she will have continued a stretch of domination rare in professional golf -- 39 victories in the last five years, plus three tournaments deep into a sixth.
On Saturday, Sorenstam was numbingly consistent. The size of her lead rose along with the temperature. Tied with Jones to start, Sorenstam had a two-shot lead after three holes, a four-shot lead after eight holes, a five-shot lead after 13 holes and a six-shot lead after 15 holes.
Jones rolled in a 20-foot putt to birdie the 18th and get back to within five shots, which she said was a lot better than what it was the hole before.
"It's a big spread," she said, "but it's one shot closer than it could have been."
If Sorenstam wasn't busy draining birdie putts on the back side, she was sinking clutch putts to save par and keep her lead looking healthy. At the 11th, Sorenstam hit a six-iron to 11 feet and made the birdie putt, hit a pitching wedge to 12 feet to birdie the 12th and then hit a sand wedge to six feet and made the putt to birdie the 15th.
As important as the birdie putts were the putts she made to save par -- a five-footer at the 13th, a nine-footer at the 16th and a four-footer at the 17th.
The pressure was beginning to weigh on her, Sorenstam said.
"All of a sudden, those putts didn't seem so short," she said.
The birdie at the 18th ended a round of one-under 71 for Jones, who said she can catch Sorenstam with a three-under start on the front today. Kerr is seven shots behind Sorenstam after her second consecutive 70, tied with Kim, who had a 72. The next closest pursuers of Sorenstam are 10 shots behind, but Wie isn't one of them.
Wie had the kind of finish to her round that could age her rapidly, well beyond her 15 years.
She played the last five holes in four over, double-bogeyed the 18th when she went for the green with her second shot and knocked the ball into the water to the left of the green. She wound up with a 73.
From 230 yards to the hole and 220 to carry the pond, Wie chose a five-wood and decided not to be passive. She didn't miss by much.
"I felt like I had enough, I just pulled it a little bit. I felt like, 'Just go for it,' because I have to be aggressive with my game. It didn't feel right to lay up."
Wie birdied three straight holes on the back, beginning at the 11th, where she left a 10-foot eagle putt on the lip.
"But from three under to one over, it's really disappointing," she said.
Sorenstam admitted that she's in good shape for her charge to the tape, but she remained consistent in her refusal to take anything for granted. She said she would be aggressive today and attack the course when it is the right option but also be patient at the proper moments.
That's what has worked so far, she said.
"I really don't want to change much," she said.
Putting a fifth consecutive victory into perspective is something that Sorenstam can relate to, but only on a professional basis.
"To be honest with you, I don't think it really [would] say a lot of different things," she said. "I believe I'm a consistent player. I believe I can play under pressure. I love to compete. Whatever happens is not going to change that. Maybe in the record books it will say something different."
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