Originally created 05/13/02

Sorenstam wins for third LPGA title of the year



FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Annika Sorenstam, confident she had played her best, could only stand and watch from the scorer's tent. She didn't expect Pat Hurst to make a mistake this time.

Sorenstam matched the course record with an 8-under 64 Sunday and won the Aerus Electrolux USA Championship when Hurst hit into the water and bogeyed No. 18.

The finish was similar to The Office Depot a year ago, when Sorenstam overcame an LPGA-record 10-stroke deficit to beat Hurst. In that event, Hurst missed a playoff after hitting into a bunker on the final hole.

"I did everything I could," Sorenstam said. "Sometimes that means a lot to me. Winning is great and everything, but I did everything I could today. If Pat would've birdied 18, I still would've been happy. Sometimes you can only do so much."

On Sunday, the women shared the lead for most of the round, matching birdies despite wind gusting up to 20 mph at the Legends Club of Tennessee. The turning point came at the par-5 18th.

Sorenstam, playing two groups ahead of Hurst, got to the front of the green in two, chipped to 4 feet and made the birdie putt to go to 17 under. Then she went to the scorer's tent.

Hurst birdied No. 17 to go to 17 under and learned that she and Sorenstam shared the lead. A strong drive left her 199 yards to the green, but her 3-wood shot drifted right, hit the bank and splashed into the water. She couldn't ground her sand wedge and chipped across the green, leaving herself a 25-footer for par.

She came up short, giving Sorenstam her third victory in seven LPGA Tour starts this year and fourth win overall this season.

Hurst said she had to go for the birdie and what would have been her first victory since 2000.

"I was in complete control all day and just felt like I could do it. That's why I did," Hurst said.

"She played great. She shot a 64. What can you do? Hats off to her. She played great."

For Sorenstam, the victory was the 34th of her LPGA career and the 12th when trailing on the final day. She finished with a tournament-record 17-under 271 total, and earned $120,000 to push her tour-leading total to $686,242.

"The more you win, you realize how much fun it is, and how much it means to you. To me, anyway," Sorenstam said. "They mean more in a way. You know how tough it is to win, and you don't know how many more you're going to win. You have to be thankful for the ones you win, and that's where I am, and that's why they mean a lot."

Hurst had been trying to win on Mother's Day after giving birth for the second time in three years. She still managed to shoot a 66 for her best finish since daughter Reilly Ann was born in January. Her daughter was a little fussy and crying as Hurst talked with reporters.

"She's feeling my pain," said Hurst, whose best finish had been a tie for 33rd last week.

Grace Park (67) finished three strokes back, Donna Andrews (65) was four back at 13 under for her best finish this year, and Brandie Burton (70) was fifth at 12-under 276.

Nineteen-year-old rookie Natalie Gulbis, who started the round with her first lead in only her seventh LPGA event, finished eighth at 9 under after shooting a 74 in a round that featured two double bogeys, four bogeys and six birdies.

At one point, it became a three-way tie between Sorenstam, Burton and Hurst. But Burton bogeyed No. 9 and fell off the pace.

Sorenstam and Hurst didn't ease up. Sorenstam couldn't have putted much better, while Hurst hit her irons very well and left herself five birdie putts of 2-3 feet.

Hurst broke out of a tie with a birdie on No. 12, the first of three consecutive birdies. Sorenstam kept pace with three straight birdies of her own starting on No. 14 and wound up with four birdies on the final five holes.

"I was making birdies, and it seemed like ... I wasn't running away with it. It was like I was trying to catch up with her," Sorenstam said. "It was exciting. It came down to the last hole. I had to play aggressive. I did, and it came out good."

Divots: Andrews' previous best finish this year was a tie for 19th, her only top-20 finish before Sunday. Hall of Famer Betsy King did Andrews one better. She had missed the last two cuts and hadn't finished higher than a tie for 36th at the Nabisco. She shot a 69 and finished seventh.