Former Spartan Fouch Finishes 2nd On LPGA Tour

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Annika Sorenstam's comeback is real. And with her third victory in eight events this season, she also showed she can beat the new No. 1, Lorena Ochoa.
The eight-time player of the year pulled away from Ochoa on Saturday, using her typical steadiness for a 2-under 69, then did the same to Jeong Jang on Sunday. Four birdies in five holes on the back nine Sunday left no doubt the injuries that led to her winless 2007 are behind her, and that her once-unrivaled game is almost all the way back.
"The last nine holes, I just dialed it in," Sorenstam said. "The yardage was right. The club was right. The direction was right. It just felt really good, really solid."
Sorenstam shot a closing 66 in the Michelob Ultra Open to obliterate Karrie Webb's tournament record by five shots with a 265 total. Jang missed a short putt on the final hole for her first bogey in 35 holes and dropped into a tie for second with Christina Kim (69), who made a birdie on the final hole, Allison Fouch (64) and Karen Stupples (66).
But the story was Sorenstam, who said this weekend she knew there were people that thought her best days were behind her. She also said she'd love to play her way back to No. 1.
There also were those who pointed out her first two victories this season came in events Ochoa didn't play, but the Swede answered those doubts this weekend, too.
"She hit a perfect iron shot every single hole," Jang said. "Annika's back."
"It's good to see that she is where she was when she was No. 1," said Kim, who played with Sorenstam and Jang in the final threesome. "It's just -- flawless is the best way to put it."
On Sunday, she was almost as good as when she shot 64 to open the tournament. Hitting almost every fairway and almost every green, Sorenstam overcame an early bogey -- just her second of the tournament -- with birdies whenever Jang closed to within two shots.
Sorenstam then used her terrific wedge game to leave everyone behind.
Jang, playing with a sore wrist that she said has bothered her for more than a year, made a 15-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole to get within two. Sorenstam promptly hit her approach on the par-4 sixth to within 12 feet and made it to restore the three-shot edge.
When Jang chipped in from 40 yards on the par-4 ninth, Sorenstam left her long birdie putt just short, but hit her approach to within a few feet on No. 10 for another birdie.
By then, it was all but over. Sorenstam made sure it was with three consecutive birdies beginning on the par-3 13th, then another by hitting it close on the par-3 17th.
She was all smiles while waiting on the tee at the par-4 18th hole, where she snap-hooked her drive into the water on Saturday, one of only two mistakes that hurt her all weekend.
She finished her 72nd career victory by missing a short putt for par, but by then it was academic.
The only thing still missing from her days as No. 1 is a little bit of distance on her drives and fairway woods, but the way she was hitting her wedges on the 6,315-yard River Course at Kingsmill she showed that 5-10 yards matters little when she's on her game.
Besides Sorenstam, the day was remarkable for several other players.
Katherine Hull, who started the day tied for 21st, made the first double-eagle of the year when she hit a 3-wood 229 yards on the par-5 seventh, part of a 64 that lifted her into sixth. The best round of her career also included a double bogey at the par-4 10th.
And Shi Hyun Ahn, whose first three rounds were 71, 71 and 72, tied the course record with a 63, making nine birdies and eight pars before a bogey on the par-4 ninth, her last hole.


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