The world’s No. 1 player couldn’t possibly lose her own tournament, could she? Annika Sorenstam didn’t let it happen, sinking a birdie putt from 27 feet on the 72nd hole to defeat Natalie Gulbis by a stroke at the Scandinavian TPC.
Sorenstam, the event’s host, closed with 72 for a 4-under 284 total at Barseback Golf and Country Club. It was her 75th title worldwide and her seventh this year, including six on the LPGA.
On the final hole, a par 4 rated the toughest on the course, Sorenstam drove into the trees on the right, but managed to get her approach to the green.
“I was lucky,” said Sorenstam, who was hugged by her parents after her victory. “I was able to take a full backswing. I had an 8-iron, a perfect club, the ball went through the trees and onto the green. It was one of those shots that I probably will never forget.”
Neither will Gulbis, a 22-year-old American seeking her first pro title.
“I birdied three of the last five holes and I was hoping to have my first playoff,” said Gulbis (70). “Who better to have it against than Annika?”
Playing in the next-to-last group, Gulbis tormented the Barseback gallery by making consecutive birdies at Nos. 14-16 for a one-shot lead over Sorenstam. But the Swede answered with a birdie at the 16th to tie it.
“Natalie played some great golf down the stretch . . . She pushed me until the end,” Sorenstam said.
Sweden’s Carin Koch (71) and French players Patricia Meunier-Lebouc (71) and Gwladys Nocera (74) shared third at even-par 288.
Sorenstam won the year’s first two majors – the Kraft Nabisco and LPGA Championship – and six of her first eight events. But she had a disappointing U.S. Women’s Open and was fifth at the Women’s British Open the week before coming home and getting her game back in order.
“I had a great time at this party,” she said. “I hope everybody else did.”