Sun, May 25, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Annika misses final round

GOLF Five bogeys in a span of eight holes sent the Swedish phenomenon home despite outstanding play and the support of a massive crowd and President Bush


Annika Sorenstam was good enough to play against the men, but only for two days.

Her historic ride at the Colonial golf tournament ended in the second round Friday when she stumbled to five bogeys in a span of eight holes and missed the chance to play in the final two rounds by four shots.

She finished tied for 96th, ahead of 11 players. After a 14-foot putt on the 18th hole for a 4-over-par 74, Sorenstam left the green in tears, emotionally worn out from the intense scrutiny of being the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour.

"It was a great week but I've got to go back to my tour, where I belong," Sorenstam said. "I'm glad I did it, but this is way over my head."

No one knew how the best female golfer in the world would fare against the men on a 7,080-yard course that was longer and tougher than anything she has played.

"I don't regret anything about coming here," Sorenstam said. "If a lady is good enough to get an invite or she qualifies, she should have every right to come here.''

The 32-year-old Swede teed off Thursday morning amid resounding cheers, and walked toward the 18th green late Friday afternoon to a standing ovation. Sorenstam had to scramble for par on the final hole -- something she was forced to do throughout a hot, sticky afternoon. For a fleeting moment, this looked as if it might have a storybook ending. Fans were stacked so deep behind the green that some cheered without ever seeing the shot. Support came from all quarters.

"I hope she makes the cut," President George W. Bush said from his ranch in Crawford, about two hours away. "I'm pulling for her, and I hope I'll be watching her on Saturday and Sunday."

Sorenstam raised everyone's hopes early.

She saved par from the bunker twice on the first three holes, and in between fired at the flag and holed an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 2 to get to even par for the tournament.

Still, there were signs that three months of buildup and three days under intense scrutiny were starting to take their toll.

It began to unravel on No. 5, when her tee shot sailed into the trees, leading to a bogey. A chunked chip shot on No. 6 cost her another bogey. She needed three putts on the eighth hole -- yet another bogey.

"I wasn't as tough as I thought I was," she said. "I was so nervous."

Just like that, she was at 3 over for the tournament and in need of at least two birdies on the back nine just to qualify for the weekend. It wasn't to be.

Sorenstam wound up 13 strokes behind co-leaders Kenny Perry (64) and Dan Forsman (66), who will take a one-stroke lead into the weekend.

Her two-day total of 145 was eight strokes better than the odds out of Las Vegas, and she impressed some of her skeptics with her accuracy despite intense pressure over 36 holes.

"The way she handled herself with style and grace ... it's kind of a sad ending, I suppose," Forsman said. "I want to see the rest of the story.''

Sorenstam, who has won 43 times, with four major championships on the LPGA tour, was invited to compete against the men by the Bank of America, sponsor of the Colonial.

"She played amazing," said Jesper Parnevik, who had a 68 and was among those at 6-under 134. "I guess we have the Shark, the Tiger and now we have the Superwoman."

The last woman to play in a PGA Tour event was Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who qualified for the 1945 Los Angeles Open and made the 36-hole cut before a 79 knocked her out of the final round. Sorenstam said she wasn't trying to prove anything to anyone, least of all that she could beat the boys. Now she goes back to her day job.

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