New Albany Golf Classic
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Sorenstam wins 18th career victory

Annika Sorenstam likes to play quickly. Today, a 15-minute wait on the 12th tee at the New Albany Golf Classic helped her to her 18th career victory.

"I had time to calm down and talk to myself," said Sorenstam, who had just missed three consecutive short birdie putts. "As I look back, it was a good thing to wait. I was steaming a little bit."

After cooling down and collecting her thoughts, Sorenstam hit a long drive into the fairway and then drilled a 5-iron to 2 1/2 feet, leading to a birdie that gave her the lead for good.

Finally pulling out of a tie with Mardi Lunn, she had a string of three consecutive birdies down the stretch to cap a 6-under 66 and a three-stroke victory.

"It was one of those rounds you dream about having on Sunday," she said.

Sorenstam had just three bogeys in the tournament and birdied four of the final seven holes to finish at 19-under 269. The victory, her second of the year, was worth $150,000 from the inaugural tournament's $1 million purse.

"I felt I was in control this week," she said. "Every shot I hit, every move I made, I knew what I was doing."

Last year's player of the year parred six straight holes after building a three-stroke lead with a birdie at the par-3 5th. Lunn, playing in the same twosome, pulled even with three birdies over that span.

Sorenstam lipped out an 8-footer for birdie at No. 9, missed a 5-footer at 10 and a 4-footer at 11.

"Annika just played fantastic," Lunn said. "She did deserve to make some putts."

Sorenstam said she talked to herself while waiting to hit at the 12th tee.

"I thought, 'How close do I have to hit it? How am I going to score if I don't hit any putts?"' she said. "You expect to make those. There were a lot of players close to me on the leaderboard and they were all breathing down my neck."

Sorenstam said the 398-yard, par-4 12th -- which ranked as the hardest hole on the course -- "scares me to death."

After hitting her approach close to the hole, she said she turned to her caddie and said, "Now I get revenge on the hole."

After the birdie there, Sorenstam skirted trouble on the next hole when her drive went well right of the fairway and into the trees lining the par-5. She was able to salvage par by slicing a shot into the fairway, finding the green in regulation and two-putting from the front of the green.

The LPGA's leading money winner three of the last four years, Sorenstam clinched the win with birdies at 14, 15 and 16. She hit a 14-footer at the 14th, coaxed in an uphill 3-footer at 15 and made a 5-footer at 16.

Lunn putted first at No. 14 and lipped out.

"If I had made that, it might have been a different story," Lunn said of the birdie putt. "That was the crucial one."

After moving into the tie with her birdie at 9, Lunn parred eight of the nine remaining holes -- missing four birdie putts inside 15 feet. She shot a final-round 67 for a 16-under 272.

Sorenstam had torched the front nine the first three days of the tournament, playing it in 12 under while mustering just 1 under on the back nine. But in the final round, she was 2 under on the front side and 4 under on the back.

Emilee Klein shot a 67, including a birdie on the final hole, to take third at 12 under. Meg Mallon shot a 69 and was at 11-under 277.

Mallon was just two shots behind the co-leaders before falling out of contention with a double bogey on the 12th hole when she put her approach in the water.

The lowlight of the day was Cindy McCurdy's 14 on the par-5 13th. She put four balls in the lake fronting the green, shot a 14-over 50 on the back nine and finished with an 85.

Sorenstam said the victory helped to erase what had been a somewhat disappointing year for her.

"The way I played today is as good as I can play," she said.