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Sorenstam picks up 39th LPGA Tour title

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 16, 2002

PORTLAND, Ore. -- After sinking an 11-foot birdie on the final hole of the Safeway Classic, Annika Sorenstam showed some emotion.

Known for her composure under pressure, Sorenstam won her eighth LPGA Tour title of the year, holding off Kate Golden.

"When I made that putt I felt some tears coming down," said Sorenstam, who closed with 4-under 68 to beat Golden (65) by a stroke. "It was my eighth win, same as last year."

Tampa's Beth Bauer, who finished tied for 18th after 73-211, became the third American since 1991, joining Brandie Burton and Pat Hurst, to win rookie of the year. She is part of an elite field that includes Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak. Bauer is 17th on the tour money list with $429,353, and the top 30 qualify for the ADT Championship Nov. 21-24 at West Palm Beach.

Bauer took the rookie lead from Natalie Gulbis, who led point standings 11 straight weeks, after a tie-for-eighth finish Aug. 28 at the First Union Betsy King Classic. She pulled away with top-five finishes at the State Farm Classic and Williams Championship.

"I'm so happy to be the rookie of the year," Bauer said. "It's been such a great year for me, and I feel my golf game improved so much over the course of the year. It was so exciting to battle it out with Natalie for top honors, and I'm sure we both are looking forward to doing it again next year."

Sorenstam has 10 world wins this year, winning three straight entering this week's Solheim Cup matches between Europe and the United States in Minnesota.

"When you sit and add them all up, I'm really amazed at what I've done," Sorenstam said.

Sorenstam earned $150,000 for her 39th LPGA victory to break her single-season tour record with $2,211,991 in 17 events. She set the record last year with $2,105,868 in 26 events.

Sorenstam finished 17-under 199. Rosie Jones (68) tied Karen Stupples (70) for third at 12 under.

RJR CHAMPIONSHIP: Bruce Fleisher held off Senior PGA Tour leading money-winner Hale Irwin to snap a 38-tournament winless streak, shooting 67 in Clemmons, N.C. Fleisher finished 19-under 191 to set the tour's 54-hole record. Three held the mark of 193, last matched in 1992 by Gibby Gilbert. Fleisher fell short of the all-time record in relation to par, 22 under, last accomplished in 2001 by Tom Kite. Irwin (67) finished 14 under, and Don Pooley (68) was third at 12 under.

GERMAN MASTERS: Stephen Leaney shot 5-under 67, beating Alex Cejka by a stroke at the European PGA event in Pulheim. Leaney finished 22-under 266 for his fourth win. Colin Montgomerie, who finished 16 under, said he will not play in the Ryder Cup that begins Sept. 27 unless he can guarantee European captain Sam Torrance his back will be fine for all matches.

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