North Augusta, S.C.
On another wet LPGA weekend, Scotland’s Janice Moodie made sure there wasn’t another Annika Sorenstam comeback.
Moodie sailed through the final round of the Asahi Ryokuken International May 19, running away from the field with a final-round 70 despite having to play five extra holes because of Saturday’s five-hour rain delay.
“It’s my second victory, and that says to you, ‘You’re good. You can do it,’ ” said Moodie after finishing at 15-under-par 283 – seven shots ahead of Davies and eight ahead of Sorenstam and Rosie Jones – to earn the top prize of $187,500. Her only other tour victory was in the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 2000.
The week before, Sorenstam, the world’s No. 1-ranked player, shot 64 and rallied from two strokes down in the final round to win her third LPGA event of the year at the Aerus Electrolux USA Championship. She has won 12 of her 34 titles after trailing on the final day.
But this time, Moodie never gave Sorenstam – or Davies – a chance. Leading Davies by four and Sorenstam by six after finishing her third round early Sunday morning, Moodie took firm control with birdies on two of her first three holes in the final round.
Both of her playing partners made brief charges, as Davies eagled No. 6 and Sorenstam birdied Nos. 5-7, and when Moodie bogeyed No. 7, her lead was cut to three over Davies and five over Sorenstam.
But Moodie regained command with a birdie on No. 8, and led by at least four strokes the rest of the way. Her final margin would have been even more impressive if not for a meaningless double bogey on No. 17.
Nearly 11⁄2 inches of rain fell before Saturday’s third round, delaying play for five hours and creating wading pools in bunkers and rivers down the course’s severe slopes. When play finally began at 1:54 p.m., golfers were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls on the fairway.
The wet weather continued a recent trend at LPGA events. The Chick-fil-A Charity Championship earlier this month was shortened from 54 to 36 holes because of rain. Storms also delayed the second round of the Aerus Electrolux USA Championships. And the Asahi Ryokuken was shortened from 72 holes to 54 holes last fall.
Sorenstam, who had a final-round 72, would have finished second if not for a two-stroke penalty and triple-bogey 8 on No. 16, where she swiped the sand with her club after the ball she tried to blast out rolled back into the bunker.
“I tried, but Janice played really solid,” said Sorenstam, who has finished in the top 10 in seven of her eight LPGA events this year. “She won the tournament outright. . . . I gave it a run, but it didn’t work out this time.”
Even in defeat, Sorenstam still played a huge role in the victory, said Moodie, who played with the top-ranked Swede in the first two rounds.
“She’s such a great one to model yourself after out there. . . .” Moodie said. “I look at what Annika does and just try and emulate it, especially her putting. She’s a good friend. Thanks for the tips.”