Annika Sorenstam is notorious for setting goals for herself and is even more well-known for going out and achieving them. Sorenstam had repeatedly said one of her main remaining goals in golf was to win more majors, and the 32-year-old Swede did just that Sunday at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship Presented by AIG. Sorenstam defeated South Korea’s Grace Park on the first hole of sudden death to earn her first LPGA Championship and fifth career major title.
“This is what I’ve wanted,” said Sorenstam, who earned $240,000 for her win. “I wanted this so badly, and I had the chance today. I didn’t want to let it go. Nothing was going to stop me. I felt like I could run a marathon when I was walking down the 18th, I had so much energy.”
A routine par for Sorenstam on the par-4 18th hole during the playoff proved to be enough, as Park’s approach shot found the thick rough fronting the green. Park chipped to 15 feet, but her par attempt stayed to the right side of the hole. Sorenstam then sunk her three-foot par putt to claim the title.
“I will always remember this,” said Park, who vaulted to second place on the ADT Official Money List behind Sorenstam thanks to her runner-up finish. “This is a course that I have been playing for 10 years now. This is the best finish in a major for me so far, so I will always remember this.”
Sorenstam began the day at seven-under-par with a four-stroke advantage over Hee-Won Han and a five-stroke lead over Park. Park climbed to five-under-par and to within one stroke of Sorenstam’s lead after seven holes via birdies on holes two, three and seven, coupled with Sorenstam bogeys on holes three and five and a birdie on the sixth hole.
Disaster struck for Park on the par-3 eighth, as she flubbed a chip shot into a greenside bunker and dropped two shots to move to three-under-par thanks to a double-bogey five. Sorenstam’s lead was three strokes after eight holes, but would quickly shrink again.
Playing two groups ahead of Sorenstam, Park rebounded with a birdie on the ninth hole to make the turn at four-under-par. Sorenstam bogeyed the par-5 ninth hole, giving Park a two-shot swing and shaving Sorenstam’s lead to just one heading into the final nine holes.
Park’s roller-coaster ride continued on the back-nine. After a bogey on 10, she stuck her 3-wood approach shot from 225 yards to eight feet for eagle on the 11th, then made the putt and jumped into a tie for the lead with Sorenstam. The two remained knotted there for the next five holes, as they both carded pars.
Park wrestled the lead away from Sorenstam thanks to a birdie on the par-3 17th, but a Sorenstam birdie on the par-5 16th a few minutes later pulled the duo neck-and-neck again at six-under-par. Both players carded pars to finish at 278 (-6), with Park notching the low round of the day, a 67 (-5). Sorenstam carded her second-straight, one-over-par 72, marking her first over-par rounds since the final round of the Sports Today CJ Nine Bridges Classic in October 2002.
“I had to work really hard, and the way Grace played today I thought was excellent and put pressure on me from the beginning and kept me on my toes,” said Sorenstam, who now has $947,501 in season earnings. “It was really hard work, but wow, it’s worth it.”
All 70 players who made the cut had to finish their third rounds beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET, then had to play the final round immediately afterward, as play was suspended due to unplayable course conditions on Saturday. Including the one-hole playoff, Sorenstam played 34 holes on Sunday, while Park played 33 holes. Rosie Jones, Beth Daniel and Rachel Teske finished tied for third at even-par 284, leaving Sorenstam and Park as the only two players under par after 72 holes.