Sorenstam Just Made Everyone Take Note

Times Staff Writer

Any wrap-up of the LPGA's 2003 campaign probably should begin by hitting the rewind button and checking out 2002. Once again, Annika Sorenstam dominated the proceedings, which is not that unusual, but in more varied ways than ever before.

Sure, she won tournaments, six of them, and she also won two majors -- the LPGA Championship and the British Open -- not to mention the LPGA Tour Championship.

What's more, 2003 became the year Annikamania was born. That wasn't because she won the money title for the sixth time or the player-of-the-year award for the sixth time.

And her not winning the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average didn't dim the luster of her year; she would have won that too if she had played enough rounds to qualify.

If you look at it, that's probably the only miscalculation Sorenstam made all year.

What made Sorenstam's year and what dominated the LPGA landscape in 2003 was her gender-bending, land-breaking appearance at the Bank of America Colonial in May when she became the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event in 58 years. Looking for defining moments in a year of golf, this one was it.

"A remarkable year," said LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw, who knew the publicity from Sorenstam's playing at Colonial would be great and was still surprised by its magnitude.

"In the weeks leading up to that event, the press and the media attention was really unprecedented in the LPGA's history," he said. "Nothing in its 53-year history ever came close."

Sorenstam did not make the cut at Colonial, but she had made the point she had set out as her goal, to test herself and make herself a better player on the LPGA Tour. And just as she did in 2002 when she won 11 times, Sorenstam proved to be the LPGA's best player, a success story that included being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in October.

By the first week of May, a runaway season by Sorenstam wasn't what was shaping up. At the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills, the LPGA's first major, the winner was not Sorenstam, but 30-year-old Patricia Meunier-Lebouc of France, who edged Sorenstam by one shot.

And when Se Ri Pak won the Chick-fil-A event with a fourth-round 64 and a 16-under total, she had a second victory to go along with her title at the Safeway Ping, where she had won with a 23-under total. In the early running, Pak had one more victory than Sorenstam, who had won the Office Depot at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana.

Then Sorenstam bulldozed her way into the picture, first at the Colonial, then in her return to the LPGA Tour at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic, where she shot 17 under and won her second title of the year. A week later, she came through and won her fifth major -- the LPGA Championship -- and followed that eight weeks later with her sixth major title, and her first Women's British Open triumph.

With a career Grand Slam completed, Sorenstam might have allowed herself a chance to look around and reflect on what the other players were up to on the LPGA Tour. The answer was, quite a bit.

* Unheralded Hilary Lunke survived a playoff with Angela Stanford and Kelly Robbins to win the U.S. Open. It was Lunke's first victory in only her second year as a professional.

* Following in Sorenstam's heel prints, five other women played in men's professional events -- Suzy Whaley, Michelle Wie, Laura Davies, Jan Stephenson and Pak, who was the only one to make the cut.

* Wie burst onto the scene at 13 and tied for ninth in her first major -- the Nabisco Championship. Wie, who turned 14 in October after she entered the ninth grade, played six LPGA tournaments and also tied for 39th at the U.S. Open.

* Sorenstam went 4-1 as Europe reclaimed the Solheim Cup with a 17 1/2-10 1/2 victory over the U.S. before a crowd that totaled 80,000 over three days at Barseback Golf and Country Club in Sweden.

* Candie Kung won three times. All but overlooked in the surge of publicity for young stars such as Natalie Gulbis, Beth Bauer and Lorena Ochoa, the 22-year-old Taiwanese from Rowland Heights and USC won the Takefuji Classic in April and then took back-to-back titles at Wachovia LPGA Classic and the State Farm Classic in August.

* Pak again proved to be one of the most consistent players on tour with three victories.

* Sophie Gustafson managed to turn up the volume on the soap opera when she won the Samsung World Championships in October, avoiding what could have been penalties on two occasions during the last round. The two incidents were not only highly criticized on NBC's telecast, they also dredged up her romantic relationship with Votaw and how it might have given the appearance of influencing the rules officials.

And yet in the final analysis, it was more Sorenstam's year than anyone else's. Votaw says that Sorenstam's presence among her male peers at Colonial in Fort Worth was a huge benefit to the LPGA.

"What it has done is create more credibility in the marketplace for our product," he said. "And for that, whenever you have more eyeballs watching your product, that means more companies will find greater value in associating themselves with your product. That's certainly what we found here."

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2003 LPGA TOUR RESULTS

*--* Date Tournament Champion Jan. 25-26 ConAgra LPGA Skins Game Karrie Webb March 13-16 Welch's/Fry's Championship Wendy Doolan March 20-23 Safeway PING Presented by Se Ri Pak Yoplait March 27-30 Kraft Nabisco Championship Patricia Meunier-Lebouc April 4-6 The Office Depot Hosted by Annika Sorenstam Amy Alcott April 17-20 LPGA Takefuji Classic Candie Kung April 25-27 Chick-fil-A Charity Se Ri Pak Championship May 1-4 Michelob Light Open at Grace Park Kingsmill May 8-11 Asahi Ryokuken International Rosie Jones Championship May 22-25 LPGA Corning Classic Juli Inkster May 30-June 1 Kellogg-Keebler Classic Annika Sorenstam June 5-8 McDonald's LPGA Championship Annika Sorenstam June 13-15 Giant Eagle LPGA Classic Rachel Teske June 19-22 Wegmans Rochester LPGA Rachel Teske June 27-29 ShopRite LPGA Classic Angela Stanford July 3-6 U.S. Women's Open Hilary Lunke July 10-13 BMO Financial Group Canadian Beth Daniel Women's Open July 17-20 Sybase Big Apple Classic Hee-Won Han July 23-26 Evian Masters Juli Inkster July 31-Aug. 3 Weetabix Women's British Open Annika Sorenstam Aug. 8-10 Wendy's Championship for Mi Hyun Kim Children Aug. 14-17 Jamie Farr Kroger Classic Se Ri Pak Aug. 21-24 Wachovia LPGA Classic Candie Kung Aug. 28-31 State Farm Classic Candie Kung Sept. 5-7 John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic Karrie Webb Sept. 12-14 The Solheim Cup Europe Sept. 26-28 Safeway Classic Annika Sorenstam Oct. 2-5 Longs Drugs Challenge Helen Alfredsson Oct. 9-12 Samsung World Championship Sophie Gustafson of Women's Golf Oct. 31-Nov. 2 CJ Nine Bridges Classic Shi-hyun Ahn Nov. 7-9 Mizuno Classic Annika Sorenstam Nov. 13-16 Mobile LPGA Tournament of Se Ri Pak Champions Nov. 20-23 ADT Championship

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MONEY LEADERS

*--* Rank Player Events Money 1 A. Sorenstam 16 $1,914,506 2 Se Ri Pak 24 $1,561,928 3 Grace Park 24 $1,374,702 4 Hee-Won Han 25 $1,101,060 5 Juli Inkster 19 $1,012,455 6 Candie Kung 28 $927,279 7 Rachel Teske 25 $9098,917 8 Beth Daniel 20 $860,654 9 Lorena Ochoa 23 $812,940 10 Rosie Jones 17 $775,785 11 Karrie Webb 21 $758,739 12 Lorie Kane 16 $667,002 13 P. M.-Lebouc 25 $666,572 14 Hilary Lunke 24 $645,735 15 Angela Stanford 19 $633,192 16 Sophie Gustafson 21 $620,622 17 Cristie Kerr 22 $610,097 18 Meg Mallon 22 $560,780 19 Laura Davies 25 $514,402 20 Mi-Hyun Kim 25 $498,188 21 C. Matthew 20 $497,348 22 Dorothy Delasin 22 $476,170 23 Becky Morgan 25 $459,844 24 Jeong Jang 21 $443,278 25 Wendy Ward 22 $436,544 26 Michele Redman 19 $435,918 27 Kelly Robbins 23 $410,186 28 Pat Hurst 25 $405,625 29 Laura Diaz 24 $405,392 30 Heather Bowie 19 $389,159 31 Suzann Pettersen 20 $387,920 32 Jennifer Rosales 23 $366,564 33 Soo-Yun Kang 26 $363,341 34 Gloria Park 25 $332,295 35 Karen Stupples 28 $325,774 36 Mhairi McKay 23 $282,954 37 Jung Yeon Lee 25 $261,587 38 D.Ammaccapane 23 $258,476 39 Natalie Gulbis 26 $251,562 40 Wendy Doolan 22 $248,591

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SCORING AVERAGE

*--* Rank Player Average 1 Annika Sorenstam 68.91 2 Se Ri Pak 69.94 3 Grace Park 70.01 4 Rosie Jones 70.15 5 Karrie Webb 70.24 6 Juli Inkster 70.38 7 P. Meunier-Lebouc 70.57 8 Cristie Kerr 70.66 9 Hee-Won Han 70.67 10 Lorena Ochoa 70.73 11 Beth Daniel 70.76 12 Rachel Teske 70.78 13 Lorie Kane 70.85 14 Mi-Hyun Kim 70.96 15 Sophie Gustafson 70.97 16 Catriona Matthew 70.98 17 Meg Mallon 71.00 18 Laura Davies 71.03 19 Soo-Yun Kang 71.05 20 Suzann Pettersen 71.08 20 Candie Kung 71.08 22 Michele Redman 71.12 23 Becky Morgan 71.21 24 Pat Hurst 71.35 25 Jennifer Rosales 71.42 26 Jung Yeon Lee 71.43 27 Laura Diaz 71.47 28 Dorothy Delasin 71.54 29 Danielle Ammaccapane 71.59 30 Heather Bowie 71.65 31 Wendy Ward 71.68 31 Karen Stupples 71.68 33 Angela Stanford 71.70 34 Tina Barrett 71.71 35 Gloria Park 71.74 36 Jeong Jang 71.75 37 Kelly Robbins 71.76 38 Young Kim 71.91 38 Natalie Gulbis 71.91 38 Dottie Pepper 71.91

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DRIVING DISTANCE

*--* Rank Player Average 1 Annika Sorenstam 271.2 2 Sophie Gustafson 269.7 3 Wendy Doolan 268.8 4 Grace Park 267.6 5 Annette DeLuca 266.8 6 Kelly Robbins 266.4 7 Akiko Fukushima 266.3 8 Karen Stupples 266.2 8 Laura Davies 266.2 10 Wendy Ward 266.1 10 Jung Yeon Lee 266.1 12 Juli Inkster 265.3 12 Catriona Matthew 265.3 14 Sherri Turner 264.5 15 Angela Buzminski 263.7 16 Smriti Mehra 262.9 17 Karrie Webb 262.8 18 Jean Bartholomew 262.7 18 Candie Kung 262.7 20 Heather Bowie 261.9 21 Suzann Pettersen 261.7 22 Pat Hurst 261.6 23 Se Ri Pak 261.1 24 Marisa Baena 260.7 25 Kim Williams 260.5 26 Kim Saiki 260.1 27 Helen Alfredsson 259.9 27 Dorothy Delasin 259.9 29 Maria Hjorth 259.5 29 Kelli Kuehne 259.5 31 Jennifer Rosales 259.2 32 Dina Ammaccapane 258.4 33 Michelle McGann 258.3 34 Jill McGill 258.1 35 Tonya Gill 257.9

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TOP-10 FINISHES

*--* Rank Player Top 10 1 Se Ri Pak 19 2 Grace Park 18 3 Annika Sorenstam 14 4 Lorie Kane 11 4 Hee-Won Han 11 4 Karrie Webb 11 4 Rachel Teske 11 8 Beth Daniel 10 9 Meg Mallon 9 9 Juli Inkster 9 11 Lorena Ochoa 8 11 Candie Kung 8 11 Rosie Jones 8 14 Cristie Kerr 7 14 Catriona Matthew 7 16 P. Meunier-Lebouc 6 16 Becky Morgan 6 16 Jennifer Rosales 6 16 Soo-Yun Kang 6 16 Dorothy Delasin 6 16 Sophie Gustafson 6 16 Michele Redman 6 16 Jeong Jang 6 24 Gloria Park 5 24 Laura Davies 5 24 Mi-Hyun Kim 5 24 Pat Hurst 5 28 Young Kim 4 28 Wendy Ward 4 28 Suzann Pettersen 4 28 Heather Bowie 4 32 Angela Stanford 3 32 Tammie Green 3 32 Kim Saiki 3 32 Jung Yeon Lee 3

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For The Record Los Angeles Times Friday November 21, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction Golf winner -- Dorothy Delasin won the Mobil LPGA Tournament of Champions. A chart in the Focus on Golf section Thursday incorrectly listed Se Ri Pak as the winner.
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