Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2005, issue of Sports Illustrated.

Two down, two to go, and a true-to-life rival has arrived. That's the skinny on Annika Sorenstam's three-shot victory at the McDonald's LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Md., last week, a tournament Sorenstam seemingly had wrapped up by Saturday evening, when she left the course holding a five-shot lead. Since Sorenstam had a streak going of 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s--an LPGA record--and is playing the best golf of her phenomenal career, most of her pursuers admitted, with a round to play, that they were now vying for second place.

Looking cool in the sweltering 92° heat on Sunday, with only eight holes to play, Sorenstam had extended her lead to eight shots--the exact margin of her victory at the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Then she pretended to be human. Having made only four bogeys in the first three rounds over Pete Dye's challenging 6,486-yard, par-72 track, Sorenstam went into the golfing equivalent of a prevent defense and made four more bogeys over the final eight holes, ending her record streak (68-67-69-73--277) while coasting to her second major title of 2005. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Michelle Wie found the putting stroke that had eluded her all week and rolled in a couple of late birdies to shoot her fourth consecutive sub-par round (69-71-71-69) and finish alone in second, a respectable three strokes back.

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