Sörenstam strolls to record-setting triumph

Sweden's Annika Sörenstam fired seven birdies in a five-under par 66 final round in Williamsburg, Virginia on Sunday to win the LPGA Michelob Ultra Open by seven strokes and capture the 72nd crown of her career.

Sörenstam, the former world number one who went winless last year, took her third title of the season with a 72-hole tournament-record total of 19-under par 265 to claim the $330,000 top prize at the $2.2 million event.

“I feel great. The season has started very well,” Sörenstam said. “It’s nice to be back playing some good golf. I feel like I’m in control of the golf ball again. It’s a nice feeling.”

Sörenstam, 37, won for the 27th time in the past 30 events which she has led entering the final round. It was her second title in as many starts after taking the Stanford International Pro-Am two weeks ago.

She began the day with a three-stroke edge and after a bogey at the second made birdies at the par-5 third plus the sixth and 10th. She also birded four of five holes starting at the 13th before concluding with a bogey.

“This was a very special one,” Sörenstam said. “I love coming here. It’s a great golf course. I haven’t played well here in the past. I really wanted to do something big this week.”

Sörenstam did, with three of her lowest four rounds in the past two years coming this week. Back and neck injuries hampered the eight-time LPGA Player of the Year and 10-time major champion in 2007.

But she looks ready to bid for world number one honors again after surrendering the top spot to Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa some 13 months ago.

“It’s great to be back playing good golf again,” Sörenstam said. “Getting back to number one is going to be very tough because Lorena is playing so well. She won a lot of tournaments last year and has five this year.

“But I’m just enjoying winning again and I’ll just take each tournament as it comes.”

Sörenstam’s four-round total matched the course record for pros set by Scott Hoch in 1996 when the Kingsmill course hosted a PGA event, and broke the former LPGA tournament mark of Australian Karrie Webb.

South Korean Jeong Jang, Sörenstam’s nearest rival most of the day, birdied the fifth and ninth holes but ended with a bogey to fall into a four-way share of second on 272.

Also sharing second were Americans Allison Fouch and Christina Kim and Britain’s Karen Stupples with Australian Katherine Hull on 273 and Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson on 274.

Sörenstam’s season winnings jumped to $1.2 million but she still trails Ochoa by just over $300,000 dollars on the LPGA season money list.

Ochoa shared 12th on 277 after a disappointing week, firing a final-round 70 and looking to defending a title next week in New Jersey.

“I’m a little frustrated. It was a long week. I didn’t really get it going,” she said. “It’s a little bit about the speed and it breaks more than you think. It’s time to go ahead to the next one. Hopefully I will have an easier week.”

The US Mother’s Day result for Stupples was the best showing of the season for the 2004 Women’s British Open champion, who missed most of last year with the birth of her son.

“I really feel I’m now getting back to my best again,” Stupples said. “It’s lovely having (my son) with me on tour, but it’s also great to be back playing full-time again.”