Sorenstam shoots 68 for easy Nichirei Cup title

Updated: May 11, 2003, 11:15 PM ET
Associated Press

TOKYO -- Annika Sorenstam got what she wanted: a win before facing the men in the PGA Tour's Colonial.

Annika Sorenstam
AP Photo/Shizuo KambayashiAnnika Sorenstam, right, gets a kiss from husband and caddie David Esch on the 18th green after finishing off her victory.

Sorenstam closed with a 4-under 68 Sunday for a nine-stroke victory in the Nichirei Cup, finishing with a 13-under 275 total on the Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club course.

She has two victories in six events this season after winning 13 worldwide titles last year.

"Winning here gives me confidence for the Colonial,'' Sorenstam said. "It's a big challenge and it's going to be a learning experience for me, but I'm excited about the opportunity.

"My main goal is the win the majors. That's my highest priority and if the Colonial helps me achieve that goal that's all the better.''

The Swedish star will play in the Colonial on May 22-25 in Fort Worth, Texas, where she'll become the first woman to compete on the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias in the 1945 Los Angeles Open.

"In a way, I suppose it's a milestone,'' Sorenstam said. "But I'm doing it just for personal reasons. I'm curious to see how I'll do, and if I raise the level of women's golf that's a bonus but this really is just for me.''

Six Japanese players tied for second.

Sorenstam went into the final round with a comfortable five-stroke lead over Kaori Suzuki and started quickly with birdies on the third and fourth holes to widen her lead.

"On No. 2, I used a pitching wedge and made a nice par save,'' Sorenstam said. "Then I got the two birdies on three and four and that gave me the momentum I needed for the rest of the day.''

Even two bogeys didn't hurt. Her first one came on the par-4 No. 9 when her second shot sailed over the green, and she missed a 2-foot putt for par. But she came back with several birdies, including one on the par-5 17th after missing a 20-foot putt for eagle.

Sorenstam bogeyed the par-3 18th when her chip onto the green landed 15 feet from the hole and she two-putted.

Nonetheless, she won for the first since time since the Office Depot Championship in April. And now she's looking forward to the Colonial after posting a good performance in Japan.

"It's been a great week in so many ways,'' Sorenstam said. "It was nice to finish with a low score.''


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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