LPGA Michelob Light Classic
LPGA Michelob Light Classic
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Defending champion prevails

There's no truth to the rumor that Annika Sorenstam is thinking of moving to St. Louis.

However, no one could blame her if she did. For the fourth time in six years, Sorenstam has won an LPGA event in St. Louis. She took her third straight LPGA Michelob Light Classic by beating Tina Barrett with a birdie on the third playoff hole today.

Sorenstam has won this tournament three consecutive times. She is only the fifth LPGA player to win the same tournament three years in a row, and she clearly felt like she had a home field advantage.

"The crowd has just been incredible, especially in the beginning when I got off to a rough start," said Sorenstam, who bogeyed two of her first three holes but came back to finish with a 2-under 70. "It was great to be here. They were really pulling for me and it was great for them to do that."

She gave them plenty to cheer about Sunday. After falling four strokes off the pace, Sorenstam caught Barrett when she sank a 16-footer for birdie on the 560-yard, par-5 16th to go to 10-under.

On the 365-yard, par-4 17th hole, Sorenstam hit her approach within 2 feet and birdied the hole to take the lead. But she dropped back into a tie for the lead when she three-putted 18 for a bogey to finish at 10-under 278.

"At that time, everything seemed like it fell apart," Sorenstam said. "I thought that if Tina could birdie 18, then it's over. I worked so hard for 72 holes, then I just miss."

But the best Barrett could manage on 18 was a par. In fact, that was as good as she could manage all day, as she had 18 straight pars in regulation on the 6,337-yard Forest Hills Country Club course.

That gave Sorenstam her chance, and she finally took advantage on the third playoff hole by making a 7-footer for birdie.

"In the playoff, I thought let's forget (the bogey) and make a putt for birdie, and that's what I'll remember," she said.

It did not appear to be Sorenstam's day when she bogeyed the 402-yard, par-4 second and the 175-yard, par-3 third. But birdies at the 460-yard par-5 fifth and the 141-yard par-3 seventh got her back in the game. Sorenstam continued to move when she birdied the 339-yard 11th to get to 9-under and within one shot of Barrett.

Local favorite Nancy Scranton, who is from nearby Centralia, Ill., took the lead when she birdied the fifth hole to get to 11-under. However, she gave five strokes back in two holes when she hit errant tee and approach shots at Nos. 11 and 12.

Scranton took a double bogey at the 11th, and a triple bogey at the 375-yard, par-4 12th to fall to 6-under. She also bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 for a final-round 77 and finished six shots off the pace in a tie for sixth with Wendy Doolan, Juli Inkster and Laura Philo.

Lorie Kane and Lisa Kiggens tied for third place at 282. Susan Ginter finished fifth with a 5-under, 283.

Kane began the day one stroke back at 9-under, but shot a final-round 75.

"My bread and butter is that I hit a lot of fairways, and today I didn't," Kane said. "I was on a rollercoaster, and just couldn't settle down with the tee shots."

However, Kane said she was not discouraged.

"We're just going to keep building," said Kane, who is still seeking her first victory. "I need to learn how to win, though."

 

AP


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