WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Annika Sorenstam’s storied LPGA Tour career is over.
The 72-time tour winner shot a 3-over par 75 on Friday at the ADT Championship, leaving her 5 over through two rounds of the LPGA’s season-ending event. Only 16 players advanced to the third round in the 32-woman event, and Sorenstam finished two shots out of that mix.
She announced six months ago she was leaving the tour at year’s end to pursue business interests, get married and start a family. Sorenstam is still is No. 2 in the world rankings, but at 38 decided it’s time for new challenges.
“All of a sudden, the time is here,” Sorenstam said. “You’re standing there on the 18th fairway and it’s your last approach shot in an LPGA event. A lot of thoughts go through your head … and what’s been the coolest thing this week is all these people who showed up that I don’t know, my fans.”
They showed up in droves Friday. When Sorenstam was on the 16th tee, hundreds crowded around her and playing partner Laura Diaz. At the same moment, about 100 feet away on the 11th tee, a gallery of exactly nine people watched a South Korean twosome.
Everyone wanted to see history, in case it really was the final round of Sorenstam’s 72-win, Hall of Fame LPGA career.
Even Lorena Ochoa – the defending ADT champion, who also didn’t advance to the weekend – showed up at the 18th green to give her friend and rival a farewell hug.
“I can’t imagine how she’s doing right now,” Ochoa said. “But I guess it will come for all of us at one point. So we can only say that we enjoyed having her and thank you for everything.”
Sorenstam won the ADT four times, but never reached the weekend in the unusual double-cut, erase-the-scores format, and knew she’d have to make up some ground Friday. She just never got it going.
“I was hoping to shoot par or better today,” Sorenstam said.
Par would have been good enough.
Sorenstam missed a makeable birdie putt on the opening hole, then split the fairway with a long drive on the second. But her approach nestled in long, dew-soaked grass short and right of the green, and her chip advanced the ball only a few feet, leaving her with a 25-footer for par.
Sorenstam wound up needing three putts to finish that hole, then strung together six straight pars before making bogey on the ninth. On the 10th, she created some hope with a birdie but, barring a comeback, that was the last of her career.
“I hope she would come back, but I don’t think so,” said Tom Sorenstam, Annika’s father, who was there every step of the way Friday, as was mother Gunilla, who clenched a half-empty bottle of champagne behind the 18th green. “But she never tells me anything.”
Katherine Hull shot 71 to get to 5 under, making her the leader after two rounds, a fact that will be completely irrelevant Saturday morning. The scorecards of the surviving 16 all get erased for the third round, and will again when the final eight play Sunday.
Angela Stanford finished 4 under, one shot ahead of Christina Kim, In-Kyung Kim and Paula Creamer, who was up most of the night before with the flu but shot her second straight 71.
“This is one of the hardest rounds I’ve ever had to play,” said Creamer, who will win the season’s money title if she wins the tournament.
Others who advanced included Jeong Jang, Angela Park, Seon Hwa Lee, Ji-Yai Shin, Helen Alfredsson, Eun-Hee Ji (who was 7 over on her final three holes and got through anyway), Jee Young Lee, Suzann Pettersen, Sun Young Yoo, Karen Stupples and Karrie Webb.
Only one of this year’s four major champions reached the weekend: Shin won the British Open.
Plenty of star power drove off Friday afternoon, including regular Trump International players Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel, the world No. 1 in Ochoa and LPGA champion Yani Tseng. U.S. Open champion Inbee Park withdrew Thursday after 14 holes.
“It was just a tough week,” Ochoa said. “Hard to concentrate.”
Certainly that was the case for Sorenstam, who isn’t walking away from the game quite yet. She’ll arrive in Singapore on Monday, play the Dubai Ladies Masters in three weeks and deliver the commencement address at the University of Arizona – her old school – on Dec. 20.
“The good thing is, I have a lot of fun things ahead of me,” she said.