A Major Breakthrough
This story first appeared in the July 24, 1995, issue of Sports Illustrated.
Even if it wasn't on the level, Annika Sorenstam's stunning victory in last week's U.S. Women's Open Championship left onlookers certain they had glimpsed the real thing. After all, only a genuine talent could have outplayed two LPGA Hall of Famers and a former Women's Open champ under Open pressure. Only a straight shooter could have shrugged off stances that resembled teeterboards and putts that seemed to break uphill. Only a 24-year-old with true grit and the right stuff and dead aim and...well, let first-round leader Jill Briles-Hinton say it: "When I'm struggling with my swing," the nine-year tour veteran said last week, "I watch Annika."
Sorenstam, one of a growing number of Swedish-born stars on the LPGA Tour, won her first American pro tournament and the most prestigious title in women's golf on Sunday, firing a two-under-par 68 for a 278 total. The former University of Arizona star and 1991 NCAA champion did it on a revered track, the Broadmoor Golf Club's East Course in Colorado Springs. She did it with three of the game's best players Pat Bradley, Betsy King and Meg Mallon bearing clown on her like a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm. She did it with the biggest gallery in Women's Open history looking on. And she did it with sunglasses perched on her cap for half the round, as if she had just ducked into a deli for a sandwich.