Sorenstam hands Wie a masterclass
Teenage talk of the town scraps all the way to stay within touching distance of peerless world No 1
While Sorenstam pulled away with a stunning finale of four birdies on the last five holes, for the 16-year-old Wie there were echoes of the final round at the US Women's Open, where she missed several short putts on her way to an 82. It all seemed likely to fall apart for the young woman of the moment when, after a three-putt bogey on the second, she three-putted from five feet on the third to drop into the middle of the 20-player field.
But unlike at Cherry Hills, she showed some fight worthy of the professional player that she now is. Wie did not drop a shot the rest of the way, escaping from the bushes with a par and finishing with a birdie for a one-under-par 71. It could have been so much worse, but on 10-under 206, she is five shots off the pace.
Wie acknowledged the value of her fighting qualities when she said: "I didn't play as well as I wanted, but I played really strong over the last couple of holes, and hopefully I can carry that on tomorrow. It felt good that I brought it back."
As a professional she will no longer receive easy sympathy, she will have to work for it and did that. Even so, with the No 1 player in women's golf in total control of her game, it appears that the best Wie can do is play for the size of her first paycheck in the second-to-last group with Catriona Matthew of Scotland, who shot 71 and was at 209.
Sorenstam began her late charge with a curling 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, and suddenly had that spark in her eye as she fired away at the flags and pumped her fists when the birdie putts disappeared. The only one she missed, a 12-footer on the 17th, hung on the lip.
She finished at 15-under 201, making the trophy presentation today look like a formality after her final round with Gloria Park, who shot a 68 and was on 205. The Swede has won the last eight times when she has had a 54-hole lead, including all five times this year, offering a lesson in consistency and grit that Wie would to well to note.
Sorenstam's confidence built up from the second hole when her birdie putt of about 25 feet dropped. "I wasn't expecting that," the Swede said. "I said to my caddie, 'It's turning around. I'm going to make some now'."
Grace Park had a two-shot lead to start the third round, fell behind when Sorenstam birdied three straight holes early, then disappeared with an adventure into the desert on the par-three eighth that gave her a quadruple-bogey seven. One shot adrift, Park pulled her tee shot left, stubbornly tried to play out of the scrub brush, fluffed her first attempt and moved the ball about four feet on the second try before taking a drop down in the seventh fairway, 80 yards away. A wedge and two putts later, Park had a seven. Then came a three-putt bogey.
Sorenstam had a few glitches in the middle of her round, three-putting the ninth and 11th greens for bogeys, and missing a six-footer on the par-five 12th. But the 18-footer on No 14 got her going again.
She was oblivious to all the activity behind her, as she made her eight birdies. She likes to look at leaderboards, but never realised what happened. "When I saw Park, I thought it was Grace all day," Sorenstam said.
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