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Annika Sorenstam half way to grand slam

Halfway to a Grand Slam after a runaway victory at the LPGA Championship, Annika Sorenstam should find some competition against two of golf's greats: Pine Valley and Merion.

Sorenstam completed another dominating performance in a major Sunday, closing with a final-round 1-over 73 at Bulle Rock Golf Club to become a three-time winner of the LPGA Championship.

The victory, coupled with her win at the Kraft Nabisco, secured Sorenstam two pieces of the Grand Slam. But she wasn't ready to talk about Cherry Hills, site of the U.S. Women's Open in two weeks. Instead, Sorenstam wants to enjoy the victory and invitations to two of the sport's storied courses.

``I'm heading to Pine Valley to play golf tomorrow and Merion to play some more golf after,'' the 34-year-old Swede said. ``I'm going to have a good time and play golf for fun, no competition, and that's my week.''

That sounds a lot like Sorenstam's past week: having a good time and no competition.

She charged to an eight-stroke lead at the turn Sunday, leaving the rest of the field to fight for second place.

The final-round 73 ended her streak of 14 straight rounds in the 60s, but the nine-time major winner wants to enjoy this victory before looking toward the Women's Open.

``My goal was to win here, and I've done that,'' Sorenstam said. ``I'm not thinking a second about tomorrow, or the next week, and definitely not for two weeks.''

Focused from the outset, Sorenstam provided a bit of drama in the final round. She stumbled down the stretch, bogeying the last two holes. But that only trimmed the margin of victory.

This championship was decided early on.

The victory made Sorenstam the first LPGA Tour player in 19 years to win the first two majors.

The way she's playing, there's no reason to think she can't win the next two.

``You are witnessing one of the greatest runs of any athlete in any sport at any time,'' LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw said.

Michelle Wie is also on a great run. The first amateur in the field in the 51-year history of the event, the 15-year-old from Hawaii overcame plenty of adversity for her best career finish -- second in a major.

Amid complaints from players that the criteria was changed to get her into the field, and battling an upset stomach in the first round, Wie was the only player to put together a charge in the final round.

``I was trying to make it a run for her money,'' Wie said. ``I don't want to prove anything to anyone. I was really happy to be here, and I felt like I finished really strong.''

She closed with a 3-under 69 and was the only player in the field to break par in all four rounds.

It was the highest finish by an amateur in a major championship since 20-year-old Jenny Chuasiriporn lost in a playoff to Se Ri Pak in the 1998 U.S. Women's Open.

As an amateur, Wie passed up $164,385, big money for someone who just completed her sophomore year in high school and recently got her driver's permit.

Eighteen-year-old Paula Creamer, just weeks removed from her high school graduation, had a final-round 67, picking up valuable Solheim Cup points and tying Laura Davies (71) for third place.

Natalie Gulbis overcame a sluggish start to close with a 73, and finished tied with Lorena Ochoa (72) another stroke back.

Sorenstam followed up an eight-shot victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March with another dominating effort, seizing the lead late in the second round and never looking back.

Pat Bradley was the last woman to win the first two majors of the year in 1986, and she tied for fifth in the U.S. Women's Open that year at NCR Country Club in Dayton, Ohio. Bradley then won the last major of the year.

Mickey Wright also won the first two majors in 1961.

Sorenstam had her troubles in the final round, struggling again on the par-5s and playing them 3 over for the week.

She did, however, join Patty Berg as the only female players to win the same major three consecutive years. Berg won the Titleholders from 1937-39.

Sorenstam's 62nd tour victory was her sixth in eight starts this year, and the $270,000 winner's share moved her past $17 million for her career.

``I do have to pinch myself sometimes when I look at my results,'' Sorenstam said. ``I feel like I'm just a little girl from Sweden that came over here to follow my dreams and hope to win a few golf tournaments. When I look at my bio in the LPGA book, I get overwhelmed.''

So must her tour brethren, who have managed to beat Sorenstam in just two events this year.

Davies wants everyone to know that these girls on tour can play -- really.

``I don't think it's all that good if Annika wins every week because it makes the rest of us look like we can't play, and that's just not true,'' Davies said.

 

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