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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > LPGA > State Farm Classic > Round 4


Annika Sorenstam snatches title with closing 62

Annika Sorenstam waved to the raucous gallery, picked up the ball and tossed it toward a sky box after ending a nearly flawless day with a 20-foot birdie putt.

It was the perfect finish to a round that carried her to an LPGA record and a victory at the State Farm Classic.

Down five strokes at the start of play Sunday, Sorenstam tied the LPGA mark for the lowest final-round score by a tournament winner with a 62. She shot 10 under for the day to finish 19 under, two strokes ahead of Cristie Kerr (67).

"To come from five behind and to win by two, it's pretty amazing," Sorenstam said. "It's something I'm going to remember for quite some time."

Third-round leader Maria Hjorth (70) fell out of contention with a double bogey on the 16th hole and finished tied for third at 16 under with Seon-Hwa Lee (69) and Il Mi Chung (69).

Sorenstam birdied four of her first five holes and ended it in similar fashion for her fourth victory this year and third on the LPGA Tour.

"I just haven't felt like I've been able to finish," said Sorenstam, whose career-low round is a 59. "This year, it's been 14 or 15 really good holes. ... I felt like I was in control most of the day."

She started the year with a victory at the MasterCard Classic but went winless for nearly four months before capturing the U.S. Open in July. Mostly, she's been inconsistent.

But now she has back-to-back dramatic victories.

Playing on her home course in Stockholm three weeks ago, Sorenstam beat Lorena Ochoa by one shot at the TPC of Scandinavia.

On Sunday, she finally seemed comfortable at The Rail Golf Club.

The final round was emotional and dramatic, filled with fist pumps and smiles as she became the fourth LPGA winner to shoot a final-round 62 and the first since Juli Inkster shot 10 under at the 2003 LPGA Corning Classic. The other players were Kathy Whitworth at the 1968 Holiday Inn Classic and Mickey Wright at the 1964 Tall City Open.

Sorenstam dug out of a bunker on No. 12 and then hit a short birdie putt that put her at 15 under and in a three-way tie for first with Hjorth and Chung. After her approach on 14 hit the pin, Sorenstam converted the birdie putt to tie Hjorth at 16 under.

She birdied 15, and then her approach on 17 stopped about 15 feet from the cup, setting up another birdie that knocked Sorenstam to 18 under. She finished the round in fitting fashion, after her approach settled near the back of the 18th green.

Sorenstam won $195,000 for the victory and another $250,000 for winning the State Farm Series Bonus Pool with 426 points -- 26 more than Kerr and Ochoa.

Sorenstam's round left others in awe.

"It was a lot of fun," said fellow Swede Nina Reis, who was grouped with Sorenstam for the first time over the weekend. "If I didn't win, I was rooting for her. She's great, and I'm never going to forget this day."

Kerr said, "You can never count her out. If she gets it going ... anything is possible."

After nearly falling out of contention Saturday before two late birdies put her at 9 under, Sorenstam served notice early Sunday that she wasn't going away quietly.

She pumped her right fist after sinking an 8-foot putt for birdie on No. 3, her third straight. And she smiled and waved to a cheering gallery after chipping in from about 18 feet for another birdie on the par-3 fifth to go 13 under.

"It was there," she said, referring to the low round. "It was just for me to grab it."

As Sorenstam birdied the par-3 11th, Hjorth hit trouble on No. 9.

Her tee shot landed in deep rough and her second hit sand. Her next shot sailed over the green and into another bunker, before a bogey left her 15 under and one stroke ahead of the pack.

Hjorth was searching for her first victory on the LPGA Tour since 1999, when she won twice.

Sorenstam simply wanted to play up to her standards.

"Hopefully, that's a sign that I'm changing the trend I've been doing the last few months," she said.

Sorenstam won $195,000 for the victory and another $250,000 for winning the State Farm Series Bonus Pool with 426 points -- 26 more than Kerr and Ochoa.



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