These days, there’s Annika Sorenstam, and there’s the rest of the LPGA. And Sorenstam most definitely is winning.
Sorenstam showed she’s in fine form to make a run at the second leg of the LPGA’s Grand Slam, blistering the field by 11 shots June 2 in the inaugural Kellogg-Keebler Classic at Stonebridge Country Club.
Her 21-under-par 195 tied the all-time winning low score for a 54-hole LPGA event, matching the 21-under of Wendy Ward in the 2001 Wendy’s Championship. It was Sorenstam’s fourth victory in nine events this year and her 35th career title.
In short, the Swedish star is at the top of her game heading into this week’s LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del. Sorenstam won the first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, on March 31.
“I’m really proud of the way I played this week,” said Sorenstam, who turned in a bogey-free 65 in the final round. “I played the best I have in a long time. This course fit me really well.”
The Kellogg-Keebler was the first LPGA event played in the Chicago area since 1994, but Sorenstam seemed as if she’d been playing there all her life. The previous largest victory margin on the tour this year was Janice Moodie’s seven-stroke triumph May 19 in the Ashai Ryokuken International. The largest ever is 14 strokes by Cindy Mackey in the 1986 MasterCard International.
Michele Redman (final-round 68), Mhairi McKay (70) and Danielle Ammaccapane (71) were the distant runners-up, finishing at 10-under 206. Kris Tschetter (68) and Candie Kung (70) tied for fifth at 9 under.
But the focus all weekend was on Sorenstam, who started the tournament with a 9-under 63 that included birdies on seven of her first eight holes. She led Redman by one shot, and quickly took control with a second-round 67 that left her five shots ahead.
Sorenstam parred the first seven holes Sunday, but seemed to wake up after Ammaccapane just missed a hole-in-one by an inch or so on the par-3 eighth hole. Ammaccapane tapped in for birdie to pull within four strokes of her playing partner, but Sorenstam promptly knocked in a 15-footer to return the lead to five. She then birdied four of the next six holes.
By then, the only suspense was if Sorenstam could set the 54-hole record. She tied it with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, but just missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
Her performance in Chicago could be a bad omen for her fellow pros in Delaware. “I feel great about my game,” said Sorenstam. “I couldn’t have asked for a better warmup, so to speak, to get my game in shape. I have a lot of confidence in my game right now.”
Following her Kraft Nabisco victory two months ago, Sorenstam wasn’t backing down from talk about a grand slam, saying she thinks the feat can be pulled off – maybe.
“It’s the toughest thing you can do in golf. . . . You need to peak at a certain time of the year,” she said. “You need some good breaks and you need some good momentum going into those weeks, and that’s a lot to ask for.”
After her Kellogg-Keebler performance, momentum won’t be a problem.