By BOB HARIG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 3, 2001
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- The alarm clock went off at 4 a.m., and when Annika Sorenstam awoke Saturday, she had high hopes of contending for her third U.S. Women's Open title and extending an incredible season.
But as the sun was setting on Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Sorenstam was at a loss to explain what happened.
Sorenstam played 34 holes, completing the weather-delayed second round in the morning before the third round. And scores of 72 and 73 left her at 5-over-par 215, 11 shots behind leader Karrie Webb.
"I've very disappointed. This is not the outcome that I wanted or I dreamed about," said Sorenstam, who this season won the first major championship of the year (Nabisco) and five LPGA titles. "I don't really know what to say. I felt prepared coming into this event. I was obviously playing well. The confidence is there. I need to go home and figure out what went wrong. I just wish it was Thursday."
Sorenstam has nine top-10 finishes in 10 tournaments this year and shot 73 only two other times. Her worst finish of the year is a tie for 43rd at the Longs Drugs Challenge, when she was attempting to win her fifth consecutive tournament.
UNFORTUNATELY, SHE'S A 10: Stephanie Keever was in position to challenge for low amateur honors, until the par-4 12th hole. That's where she made 10, with some unfortunate circumstances along the way.
Keever was on the green in three shots, and had about a 20-foot putt for par. But she hit it too hard and saw it roll off the green into a bunker. She was unable to get her fifth shot out and hit her sixth across the green, where she needed to take a drop from a sprinkler head. She putted past the pin and made the next putt for 8. But while she was in the bunker, Keever grounded her club, it caught the sand on her backswing for a two-stroke penalty. So she was given 10.
Before the hole, Keever was 5 over, but went to 11 over. Keever finished with 83, putting her at 14-over 224.
The low amateur through three rounds is Candy Hannemann (218). Hannemann, who plays at Duke, won the NCAA individual title last week.
USA, USA: When the weather-delayed second round ended early Saturday afternoon, the 36-hole cut came at 6-over 146. There were 60 players who made the cut. Of those, 34 were Americans.
A LITTLE HELP: Kris Tschetter, who finished second to Sorenstam at the 1996 Open at Pine Needles, still is recovering from last year's hip surgery. That is why she has her caddie carry a small fold-up chair during the round.
"The caddies are all worried that it's going to become a trend," she said. "Just to be able to sit down, even if it's just three or four minutes rather than standing in the fairway, that makes a big difference for me at the end of the day."
Tschetter's third-round 77 put her at 13-over 223.
BITTERSWEET: Morgan Pressel's Open ended with a 15-foot par putt for consecutive 77s. She missed the cut by eight, but it was quite an experience for the 13-year-old from Boca Raton.
"I didn't want to finish with a bogey, so finishing with a par is always nice," she said. "I was happy. I had six pars in the last six holes."
Pressel also might have learned a lesson in etiquette. She was scolded by playing partner Heather Daly-Donofrio for walking in her putting line and standing in the wrong place during tee shots and putts.
Although Pressel denied doing anything improper, nobody could blame her if she didn't have down all the nuances of the game that a pro expects.
Life will start to get back to normal for Pressel. She will begin play on Monday at a junior tournament in Kentucky.
REMEMBER WHEN: Because Pressel doesn't live far from Webb's Boynton Beach home, Webb was asked if she might invite Pressel to play a round.
"I might let her ask me," said Webb, 26, who has 23 LPGA Tour titles. "I just think of how I was as a kid, and I would never put myself in that situation if you paid me. I guess I'm just a shy enough person that as much as I'd love to play with a great player, I would never put myself in that position. I'd love to go and watch them, but never put myself in a position to be that nervous over an 18-hole round of golf when it doesn't count for anything."
KUEHN MISSES CUT: One of the other big stories of the week was Brenda Corrie Kuehn, an amateur who was competing in her eighth Open. She missed the cut with rounds of 79-84 -- understandable considering she is expecting a baby in a matter of weeks.
"I'm trying to save as many clippings as I can to put in the baby book," she said. "It would be a great thing for the baby to see what was happening when it was moving around in there."
Nonetheless, Kuehn said she was surprised by all the attention she received this week.
"For me, it's nothing different. I'm doing the same thing this week as I was doing last week, and the week before. My life has not changed. And it's just interesting to see the fascination. It's snowballed."
No. 4, Par-4, 360 yards
Annika Sorenstam was poised to make her move. She had birdied two of the first three holes to get to par for the tournament, five strokes behind Karrie Webb. She had the relatively short par-4 fourth ahead. Then she hit a poor tee shot that kicked off a tree and led to bogey. And Sorenstam never was the same. She was unable to make another birdie during the rest of the third round, and added four more bogeys to shoot 3-over-par 73.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I don't feel tired. I'm more sad and upset. This is what I play for, this is why I work out, to be ready for days like this. I'm not going to blame it on fatigue." -- Annika Sorenstam, after playing 34 holes Saturday and falling out of contention with an afternoon 73, which matched her worst round of the year.