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Archive for Monday, July 10, 2000

Sorenstam claims fourth win of year

July 10, 2000

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— Annika Sorenstam's four-shot lead faded in the rain, but her birdie on the second hole of a playoff in the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic gave the Swedish star her fourth LPGA Tour victory of the year.

Rachel Hetherington birdied the final two holes of regulation to pull even with Sorenstam at 10-under 274.

After playing together all day Sunday, they returned to the 18th tee for the first hole of the playoff. Hetherington missed a 20-foot birdie putt, then had to make a slick 5-footer coming back to save par. Sorenstam just missed her birdie putt from 10 feet.

Both drove into ideal position in the fairway on No. 1, a par-4. However, Hetherington's 6-iron approach to the front of the green spun back, leaving her 20 feet short of the green and 60 feet from the hole. She chipped 6 feet past the hole, but Sorenstam, after hitting her 6-iron just below pin high, coolly rolled in her straight 11-footer for the victory.

Sorenstam collected $150,000 for her 22nd career win.

It was the 25th time Sorenstam has led an LPGA event heading into the final round and she won for the 16th time -- including three of the four this season.

It was the fourth playoff in the tournament's 16 years, including last year's LPGA record six-way playoff, won by Se Ri Pak.

Seeking to become only the seventh player to ever win the same LPGA tournament three consecutive years, Pak climbed the leaderboard in the final round and tied Sorenstam. Down five shots at the start, she pulled even with a birdie at the 13th hole.

But Pak's three-putt bogey at 16 gave Sorenstam the lead again -- until Hetherington's fast finish.

Sorenstam started the day at 10 under. But she came up short with a 5-iron on the very first hole and missed a 10-footer -- resulting in her first bogey in 41 holes.

Her lead was cut in half by the time lightning and rain caused a suspension of play, just after she parred No. 2. Pak's two early birdies and one by Hall of Famer Beth Daniel on No. 2 pulled them within two shots.

She still wasn't out of the woods -- literally.

After a 44-minute suspension of play due to lightning, Sorenstam's next shot -- her drive on the dogleg par-4 4th -- clipped a tree and her ball ricocheted into the rough short of the fairway. From there she hooked a wood into a trap 50 yards short of the green, and then blasted out to 9 feet.

Avoiding another misstep, she canned the par putt -- pumping her fist for emphasis as the ball fell in the cup.

She followed that with birdies on three of the next four holes -- hitting putts of 7, 22 and 14 feet -- to build a three-shot lead over Pak.

But Sorenstam encountered trouble again at No. 9, finding a trap off the tee and then watching as her line-drive 5-iron skipped off the right side of the green and rolled all the way down a big hill.

Just as she readied to hit her approach to the green, however, play was suspended again. She marked her ball and hurried to the clubhouse before black clouds dumped rain on the course. Play was halted for 1 hour and 50 minutes.

When the players returned, Sorenstam chipped to 3 feet but missed the par putt and Pak was only two back. Another bogey by Sorenstam at the 12th, in conjunction with Pak's birdie at 13, pulled them even.

After Pak's bogey at 16, she had a 6-footer for birdie on the last hole to tie Sorenstam again but it just skimmed off the lip. She had to settle for a 67 that left her alone in third at 9-under 275.

Daniel's 69 put her next at 276. Heather Bowie, Jane Crafter and Jeong Jang were another shot back.

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