Originally created 11/22/04

A fitting finish for Annika

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Nothing went according to plan for Annika Sorenstam until the trophy presentation Sunday at the ADT Championship, a script she knows better than anyone.

She could have ended a dramatic duel with Cristie Kerr by making a 12-foot birdie on the 72nd hole, but the putt turned away at the edge of the cup to force a sudden-death playoff at Trump International.

With her opponent in the water, Sorenstam only had to hit the 18th green with a 7-iron to end the suspense.

Instead, she hit a spectator.

Ultimately, all that mattered was casually tapping in for bogey to win the season-ending ADT Championship, capping another sensational season with her eighth victory.

"It wasn't as pretty as the previous holes," Sorenstam said. "A win is a win. By the end of the day, the trophy is in my hand. I'm happy."

Sorenstam won for the 56th time in her career, moving past Betsy Rawls into fifth place all-time, and she became the first three-time winner of the LPGA's version of the Tour Championship.

Sorenstam keeps saying that winning isn't as easy as she makes it look.

That was the case during an intense final round that essentially came down to one swing.

Kerr, who had not made a bogey over the final 44 holes of the tournament, hit a marginal drive that left her 188 yards to the hole. She tried a 7-wood off a sidehill lie and pushed the shot into the water. Then her sand wedge spun off the green, and she wound up with double bogey.

"I played my heart out," Kerr said. "I'm a little disappointed, but not a whole lot, because I did all I could do and I was faced with a really tough shot. It wasn't meant to be."

Sorenstam still had to work.

She was only four paces behind where her tee shot was in regulation and knew the shot well.

"Then I saw her ball go into the water," Sorenstam said. "I was going to play it safe on the left side of the green. I pulled it a little bit. But it was dry. That was the key."

She chipped to 5 feet above the hole and two-putted for bogey and the $215,000 prize.

Both players finished at 13-under 275 and had a chance to win in regulation.

Kerr, playing in the group ahead of Sorenstam, narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th and missed from about the same distance on the final hole to shoot 4-under 68.

Sorenstam saved par with a crucial 6-foot putt on the 17th to keep pace with Kerr, then hit a 7-iron from 150 yards to 12 feet below the hole on the 18th as a light rain began to fall. She squatted to the ground when the ball grazed the lip, giving her a 69 and her first playoff of the year.

Karrie Webb and Carin Koch each shot 69 and finished third at 280.

Jennifer Rosales, who played in the final group with Sorenstam, took a double bogey on No. 9 that knocked her out of contention. She holed out a long bunker shot on the 18th for a 74 to finish fifth.

Grace Park closed with a 75 to finish 15th at 2-over 290 and won the Vare Trophy for having the lowest season scoring average. Park came into the final event narrowly ahead of Lorena Ochoa, but the Mexican also shot 75 and finished at 292.

"The Vare Trophy was on my mind, but I wanted to finish the season well," Park said.

Sorenstam had the lowest average for the fourth straight season, but has been ineligible because she didn't play the minimum 70 rounds required to win the award.

The only contest that was close came from the last two groups.

Kerr holed a short birdie putt on the second hole to get to 10 under, then rolled in an 8-footer on the next hole.

Sorenstam had no such luck.

She missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, then missed three straight birdie putts inside 15. When Sorenstam three-putted from about 60 feet over a ridge on the par-3 fifth, she fell two shots behind.

Two unlikely birdies finally got her on track.

Sorenstam's approach on No. 6 barely climbed a steep ridge, and she made a 20-footer for her first birdie. She followed that with a 45-foot birdie on the next hole to catch Kerr, and they matched short birdies on the par-5 ninth.

That set up a back-nine duel, with the players matching eight pars and one birdie.

Kerr pulled ahead with a wedge into a foot for a tap-in birdie on the par-5 15th. Sorenstam went for the green in two, barely clearing a creek, but then three-putted from 40 feet and had to settle for par. But she made up for it on the next hole, making an 8-footer for birdie from about the same spot where Kerr had missed.

Kerr won in Las Vegas earlier this year in a seven-hole playoff. One swing with a 7-wood assured that this playoff wasn't going to last more than one hole.

Divots: Sorenstam was questioned for hitting a 4-iron off the tee on the 384-yard first hole Saturday, which left her a 7-wood into the green and led to a bogey. After calling it a "stupid" mistake, Sorenstam hit driver in the final round and split the fairway. Then she looked at a group of reporters, smiled and showed them her driver head cover for emphasis.... Sorenstam and Kerr tied the 72-hole record at Trump International at 13-under 275, which Sorenstam set two years ago.... Sorenstam improved to 13-5 in playoffs, and her record with at least a share of the 54-hole lead is now 22-16.


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