Annika Sorenstam secured her status as No. 1 in the world and the LPGA player of the year after winning the Cisco World Ladies Match Play Championship Oct. 28.
Sorenstam overcame a four-hole deficit to defeat Se Ri Pak, 1 up, in the 18-hole final. It was the seventh victory of 2001 for Sorenstam, who won $144,000 to increase her earnings to $1,828,868 – just $47,985 behind the tour record set last year by Karrie Webb.
Sorenstam secured her fourth player of the year award with the victory and 30 points despite double points at the tour’s season-ending Tyco/ADT Tour Championship Nov. 15-18 in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“This means the world to me,” said Sorenstam, who defeated Lorie Kane, 4 and 2, to reach the finals. “This was one of my goals at the start of this year. It has been an incredible year for me with the records that I have won, and I have won more tournaments than I ever have before. I worked hard this winter, harder than ever, and it’s a dream come true. It is very exciting.”
Pak, the No. 2 player in the world, opened the finals by winning the first two holes. Pak, who won $90,000 to increase her earnings to $1,623,009, won the fourth hole to go 3 up. She went 4 up after winning the sixth hole
“No matter what you are up, three or four holes, you have to keep playing and finish the hole,” said Pak, who beat Yu-chen Huang, 6 and 4, in the semifinals. “I never thought that the match was over because there were 12 holes left.”
Sorenstam would go on to win five of the next 12 holes.
“Obviously, that was not the position I wanted to be in,” said Sorenstam. “I felt that I was not playing my best at the time, and I was 2 over after four holes and I knew that I could play better, so I did.”
The match changed on the eighth hole when Pak, a five-time winner this year, three-putted to lose the hole. Sorenstam then won three consecutive holes to tie the match at 11.
“That was the first mistake she (Pak) made all day,” said Sorenstam. “That was the big turning point for the match, and I knew that if I kept playing that I could win it.”
Sorenstam took the lead for good at No. 15 when Pak missed a 3-foot putt. The pair halved the remaining three holes.