| Annika Sorenstam with the Safeway Classic Trophy in Portland on Sunday
Portland: Doing something unprecedented is nothing new for Annika Sorenstam, but she almost outdid herself on Sunday. Sorenstam came within inches of recording three straight eagles on the front nine, then birdied the 17th hole to defend her title with a one-stroke victory at the LPGA Safeway Classic.
The 10-inch birdie putt capped a six-under-par 66 for Sorenstam, whose 54-hole total of 15-under 201 was one shot better than Hall of Famer Beth Daniel and three in front of Cristie Kerr.
“Obviously, it feels wonderful,” said Sorenstam, who leads the LPGA with five wins and $1,695,006 in earnings. “To finish 15-under in a three-day (tournament), that takes a lot of birdies, obviously. And today was a little bit of a roller-coaster ride.”
Most of the thrills came on the front nine. The Swedish superstar missed a six-foot eagle putt at the 489-yard fifth hole, then made back-to-back eagles. She holed a sand wedge from 102 yards at the par-four sixth and rolled in a 40-foot putt at the seventh.
“I hit seven-wood on number five, I want to say to about six feet, and let that eagle go away. And then obviously, I was a little hot. ... I was on fire on those.”
After making birdies at the 10th and 12th holes, she cooled off and bogeyed 13 and 14. But with Daniel keeping pace, Sorenstam nearly holed a nine-iron at the 18th hole before tapping in for her 47th career victory. While that total ranks one behind Nancy Lopez in seventh place on the LPGA list, Daniel is not ready to call Sorenstam the greatest in women’s golf history.
“No, I wouldn’t go that far,” Daniel said. “Not taking anything away from her, but you have to remember that when I started playing, Mickey Wright was still playing. ”
Sorenstam was tied for the lead with Daniel and Kerr after Saturday’s second round. But Daniel capped a bogey-free 67 with eight pars and Kerr bogeyed two of the final four holes for a closing 69.
Sorenstam became the first repeat champion of this tournament since Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth won the first two editions in 1972-73. Sorenstam will join Whitworth and Daniel in the Hall of Fame on October 9, her 33rd birthday — three years after meeting all of the qualifications other than the minimum 10 seasons on tour.
“Just because I’m going to get inducted, it’s not the end for me,” Sorenstam said. “I have more goals I want to achieve.” (AFP)