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Pak retains Mobile title by 4 shots

©Associated Press
October 14, 2002

MOBILE, Ala. -- Se Ri Pak birdied four of the last five to overtake Carin Koch, defending her title in the Mobile LPGA Tournament of Champions.

Pak closed with 6-under 66, eagling the par-5 fourth and taking control with straight birdies on Nos. 14-17. She finished four ahead of Koch and Catriona Matthew.

"After last year, I think I know how to play this golf course, especially since I won this tournament," Pak said. "I have a lot of confidence, so I played well again."

The 25-year-old had a tournament-record 20-under 268 for her fourth victory of the year and 17th in five seasons on the LPGA Tour.

Annika Sorenstam fell short in a bid for her 10th tour victory of the year, bogeying the 18th for 70 to tie for fourth -- five behind Pak.

Sorenstam reached 16 under with three front-nine birdies, but lost a stroke on the back nine with two bogeys and one birdie.

Sorenstam needs to win the final four events of the season to tie Mickey Wright's single-season win record of 13 set in 1963. The Swede won her past four individual tournaments: the Compaq Classic in Sweden and three LPGA events.

Pak also ended Sorenstam's four-tournament win streak last year with a victory in the Longs Drugs Challenge.

Pak, the first to successfully defend her title in the Tournament of Champions, broke her tournament record of 16 under set last year.

Koch, the leader after each of the first three days after opening with a career-low 62, shot 73 and Matthew 68.

"It's very disappointing," Koch said. "I knew if I could shoot 3 or 4 under and get it to 20 or 21 under, someone would have to go low.

"I didn't feel like I played as bad as my score, but I didn't play great. If three or four putts drop, that makes a big difference. I've just got to work on my swing so that it's a little more consistent under pressure. It's not quite there right now."

Wendy Ward (68) and Rosie Jones (69) matched Sorenstam at 15 under, and Laura Diaz (67) and Emilee Klein (73) were 14 under. Sorenstam earned $34,916 to raise her record total to $2,408,907.

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