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Sorenstam Closes Open Door, Wins by Six

From Associated Press

Annika Sorenstam’s stomach was doing flips when she woke up Sunday thinking about defending her U.S. Women’s Open championship.

“When I came in this morning I had a little stomach ache, butterflies all over,” she said after shooting a 66 and shattering the Open record with a 72-hole total of eight-under-par 272 for a six-stroke victory over Kris Tschetter. “I wanted to do it so badly.”

The emotion of the day, the week and the year since she won for the first time in the United States at the Open last year finally caught up with her when her par putt on No. 18 fell.

She raised both hands over her head, her eyes filled with tears and she struggled for the first time to keep her composure.

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“It was a dream come true again,” she said, choking back the sobs.

Later, with more time to reflect she grasped the magnitude of what she had done.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to win this championship,” Sorenstam said. “Once was wonderful. To win it twice was more than wonderful. I will never forget this place.”

Tschetter was second at two-under-par 278. Brandie Burton, Jane Geddes and crowd favorite Pat Bradley matched par of 280.

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“I knew that Annika needed to falter,” Tschetter said. “But that’s just not something that Annika does very often. I kept saying to myself, ‘What golf course is she playing?’ ”

Sorenstam certainly showed Greg Norman how to do it. Given a big lead going into the final round, she played with the same precision she had all week--hitting fairways and greens and making putts.

And when the lead started to grow she shifted into a more conservative mode, unlike Norman at this year’s Masters when he squandered a six-stroke lead over Nick Faldo on the final day.

“I was aiming a little more for the middle of the greens,” she said. “I figured I’m not the one who has to make birdies out here.”

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But she made a bunch of birdies--and an eagle.

Sorenstam’s score bettered the seven-under 277 shot by Liselotte Neumann in 1988 and Patty Sheehan in 1994. And it made her only the sixth woman the win back-to-back Opens.

The 25-year-old Swede took a three-stroke lead into the final round at Pine Needles and was never challenged. No one made a move and Sorenstam gave no one any glimmer of hope she would fall back to the field.

When Sorenstam made her one brief slip, making consecutive bogeys at 13 and 14, she followed with birdies on the next two holes.

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