2002: LPGA - A Golden moment for Annika

Galloway Township, N.J.

This time, Kate Golden couldn’t stop Annika Sorenstam. Neither it seems, can the rest of the LPGA.

At the State Farm Classic last September, Golden earned her only LPGA victory with a final-round 63 that overcame a six-shot deficit to Sorenstam.

The world’s No. 1 player got her revenge June 30 in the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, as Golden bogeyed four of her final five holes to blow a two-stroke lead and lose to Sorenstam by three shots.

Sorenstam is batting .500 on tour this season, winning six of 12 LPGA events, including her last two and four of her last six. She also won the Australian Masters earlier this year.

Her triumph at the Marriott Seaview Resort’s Bay Course was her third comeback victory this year and her 13th in 37 career titles. And it left her on yet another high heading into this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kan.

“Maybe I shouldn’t ask the question why it’s happening, but I’m obviously enjoying this,” said Sorenstam, who finished with a bogey-free, 5-under-par 66 for a 12-under 201 total. She won the Atlantic City-area event for the second time in five years. The $180,000 top prize pushed Sorenstam’s earnings this year to $1.53 million, more than twice the amount of the tour’s No. 2 money winner, Se Ri Pak.

“She is No. 1 for a reason,” Golden said. “She doesn’t make mistakes. It is tough to beat her every week, and she is really focused. She’s got it going on right now.”

Golden, who had a final-round 71, finished in a three-way tie for second at 9-under 204 with second-round leader Juli Inkster (72) and Carin Koch (67).

Inkster had led Golden by a shot, Pat Hurst by two and Sorenstam and Lorie Kane by three heading into the final round. But Inkster, who had won six consecutive events when leading going into the final day, struggled with her driver and putter the entire round, and fell out of the lead after a bogey on the ninth hole.

Sorenstam, meanwhile, moved into contention with consecutive birdies at the third, fourth and fifth holes, and by the time she walked off No. 6, she was in a tie for the lead.

Golden sank long birdie putts at Nos. 12 and 13 to take a two-shot edge, but a bad drive, a bad iron and a topped wood in the fairway led to three consecutive bogeys on Nos. 14-16. Sorenstam then earned some breathing room with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 16th.

Golden needed to eagle the par-5 18th hole to tie, but her drive landed in the deep rough and she had to take an unplayable lie on her way to another bogey.

Golden opened the event with a 7-under 64, and had led by as many as four strokes early in the second round, but a double bogey at No. 17 Saturday put her a shot behind Inkster heading into Sunday – and square in Sorenstam’s sights.

“She owes me one,” Sorenstam quipped about Golden after Saturday’s round.

Not anymore.

– From staff and wire reports

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