Park sinks 20-footer on 18; Sorenstam sixth

Updated: May 5, 2003, 12:23 AM ET
Associated Press

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Grace Park's first shot Sunday was a drive into the water that led to a double-bogey. Her last one of the round was a beauty, a double-breaking par putt of nearly 20 feet that gave her a one-stroke victory in the inaugural Michelob Light Open.

Grace Park
Grace Park jumps into the arms of her caddie after draining the winning putt.

Park began the day with a one-stroke lead over Cristie Kerr, but immediately gave it away with the double-bogey on No. 1, a bogey on 2 and a bogey on No. 4 that included a shank into the gallery.

But she rallied for consecutive birdies on holes 5-7, and her par save on 18 left her one stroke in front of three players and gave her a fourth tour victory.

After her rotten start, ''I literally said it to myself: 'Believe in yourself.' ... If it's meant to be, things will come your way,'' she said.

Park finished Sunday with an even-par 71 and was 9 under for the tournament, a stroke ahead of Kerr (71), Karrie Webb (67) and Lorena Ochoa (69).

Annika Sorenstam shot her third straight 70 and finished in sixth place at 6 under. Mi-Hyun Kim closed with a 68 and finished fifth.

Kerr led for most of Sunday and had a two-stroke lead with four holes remaining, but was foiled in her attempt to become the first American to win an LPGA event in nearly 10 months when she made bogeys at the par-5 15th and again at 16.

Sign of things to come?
Annika SorenstamThis week's Michelob Light Open at Kingsmill Golf Club might have provided the best indication yet as to how Annika Sorenstam could perform at the PGA Tour's Colonial later this month.

Prior to this year's inaugural LPGA event at Kingsmill, the course hosted a PGA Tour tournament from 1981-2002. The track was obviously shortened for the women, but six holes played to relatively the same length (within 13 yards) for both sexes.

Sorenstam played those six holes at 5-over for the week, compared to 9-under for the other 12. While it's quite a stretch to assume that because she struggled on those holes she'll fall on her face at the Colonial, the comparison isn't totally without merit. Remember, those holes were also played by PGA Tour pros last year in relatively the same form.

Lee Janzen, who averages about more 20 yards off the tee than Sorenstam but is short by PGA Tour standards, made the cut on the number at last year's event at Kingsmill (a goal Sorenstam strives to reach at the Colonial), and played those holes at 1-over through two rounds.

Sorenstam placed sixth at the Michelob this week, but if those six holes offer a window on how she'll fare at the Colonial, she faces an uphill battle to make the weekend.

For more statistics and analysis, check out our Weekend Wrapup.

Meg Mallon was the last U.S. golfer to win a women's event, the Canadian Women's Open in mid-July.

Kerr had played the par-5s brilliantly all week, going 10 under on the holes until she bogeyed 15.

''I felt really good about the way I was striking the ball out there. Unfortunately, coming down the stretch I hit two bad shots,'' she said.

Kerr gave credit to Park, her playing partner and good friend, for reviving her round.

''I was trying not to watch. ... She had a horrible start,'' Kerr said of Park, who will be a bridesmaid at Kerr's upcoming wedding. ''A lot of people would have given up.''

Needing only par at 18 for the victory, Park drove into the rough, missed the green with her second shot and chipped to 20 feet. Kerr, meanwhile, had a 35-foot putt for birdie that would have given her the victory if Park couldn't save par.

''I thought I had a putt to win. It was a tough shot, but if I had made it and Park missed, I would've won,'' Kerr said. ''I thought she would have a tough time making par.''

But Kerr missed her birdie putt, and Park, after taking a long time to line up her putt on the heavily undulated green, made par for the victory.

''It was kind of a double breaker,'' Park said of the final putt. She and caddie David Brooker ''just kept fidgeting with it, looking for a good line.''

Sorenstam said the Kingsmill course, site of a PGA Tour event last year, provided good experience for the Colonial later this month where she'll play against PGA Tour pros.

''If this is any indication of what kind of course they play, it's fantastic,'' Sorenstam said. ''The setup, the conditions, the consistency.

''These are the type of courses I would love to play all the time, but we just don't have it.''

The women played the Kingsmill course at 6,285 yards, compared to 6,853 yards at last year's PGA Michelob Championship. Several holes were played at the same length.

Park's victory continues a personal streak, extending to her days of junior golf, of winning tournaments she leads heading into the final day.

Park said she tried not to think about that streak while she was on the course, but acknowledged it crept into her mind.

''Maybe I had little doubts here and there (on the front nine), but my caddie just kept saying to me, 'We can do it. we can do it.' And my streak still stands.''


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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