Sunday, May 11, 2008

Michelob Ultra – Final Round

Annika Sorenstam cruised to a seven-shot victory at the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill. Jeong Jang, Karen Stupples, Christina Kim and Allison Fouch tied for second at -12. It is the third victory of the year for Sorenstam, her second in a row, and the 72nd of her career.

Annika and JJ spent the front nine sparring – one bogey by Sorenstam at 2, but birdies at 3 and 6 while Jang birdied 5 and 9. The lead was two at the turn but Annika birdied the 10th to regain the three-shot lead she started the day with. At 12, Sorenstam missed a four-footer for birdie and that appeared to give JJ new life. However, Annika’s tee shot at 13 nearly flew into the hole and she drained the resulting five-footer. Jang also had five feet for birdie but missed hers badly to the right. The lead was four with only five to play and with the way Sorenstam was striking the ball, the event was history. She birdied 14 and 15 (both putts were about five feet), just missed at 16, got a lucky bounce at 17 to set up a two-footer for birdie. A meaningless bogey at 18 gave her 66 on the day and -19 for the week, shattering the tournament record by five strokes.

Jang missed a two-footer at 18 that would have given her solo second place. Kim birdied 18 after a terrific approach to join that tie. Earlier, Fouch had chipped in for birdie at 18 to finish -12 after a round of 64. Katherine Hull finished in sixth place with a 64 of her own, fueled by a double-eagle at the par-5 7th. Round of the Day honors go to Shi Hyun Ahn, whose 63 vaulted her into a tie for 12th.

If you watched many of those events in 2004 and 2005 where Sorenstam played iron shots like they had a laser sight on them – today’s round reminded me of those days. It also reminded me of the dominating Lorena Ochoa victories we’ve seen in recent months. The 2008 Player of the Year race is ON.

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