2006: As usual, Annika on top of world

SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA

Annika Sorenstam always has looked up to Liselotte Neumann. The rest of women’s golf always has looked up to Sorenstam. So it’s no surprise that the rest of the field was left looking up at the Swedish pair at the Women’s World Cup of Golf.

Neumann carried the team for much of the first two rounds with a strong putting performance, but it was Sorenstam who showed her poise and experience in the final round for a 2-under 70, teaming with Neumann’s 77 for a final-round 147 and a 7-under 281 team total Jan. 22 at Gary Player Country Club. They won by three shots over Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie of Scotland (70-73-141), which was the only team to break par the final day.

“It’s nice to have the No. 1 player in the world as your partner,” Neumann said. “I played very good the first two days and today wasn’t really my top game, but that’s when Annika came in and helped. It has been a great week.”

The duo led by three strokes going into the final day, and took a seven-shot lead to the back nine Sunday before dropping four shots between them on the next four holes. Both players bogeyed 11, then Neumann bogeyed 12 and 13. Sorenstam regrouped, however, with an eagle on 14 to give the team some needed momentum going into the final four holes.

“It’s great to start the year this way,” Sorenstam said. “Hopefully it’s a sign that this will be a good year.”

As a young girl growing up in Sweden, Sorenstam said Neumann – who won the 1988 U.S. Women’s Open and has 12 other LPGA victories – was one of her role models.

“I admire Liselotte for a lot of things,” said Sorenstam, who was 17 when Neumann won the Open at Baltimore Country Club. “She’s obviously one of the first Swedish players to really break through in the United States. I will never forget the day she won the U.S. Open.

I remember just walking down to get a newspaper and she was on the front page of every newspaper. I thought that was pretty neat. She comes from a small town like me and I thought, ‘Wow, if she can do it, then maybe one day I can follow my dreams as well.’ ”

As for being a role model herself, Sorenstam said she is humbled by it.

“It’s a tough role,” she said. “But I look at it that I am just very fortunate to do what I love. If somebody says to me, ‘You’re a role model for my kid,’ it means a lot. . . .

I love to give back as much as I can.”

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