Sorenstam collapses, misses out on playoff

Monday, July 7, 2003

NORTH PLAINS, Ore. -- Hilary Lunke and Angela Stanford watched from the tee. Kelly Robbins was in the scoring trailer, her eyes glued to the television.

No matter the viewpoint, it was an intimidating sight -- Annika Sorenstam in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 18th, poised to make birdie and win the U.S. Women's Open.

"I was expecting her to have a decent shot at birdie," Lunke said. "You're playing against the best player in the world, she's going to make birdie. And you have to match her."

What followed was a stunning conclusion Sunday that set up a three-way playoff for the first time in 16 years at the U.S. Women's Open.

The real shocker: Sorenstam won't be there.

Sorenstam hit into the trees, into a bunker and fell apart with a bogey on the 18th hole, leaving Lunke, Stanford and Robbins to play for the biggest prize in women's golf.

Robbins birdied two of the last three holes, just missing an eagle putt on No. 18 and closing with a 2-under 69.

Lunke hit a clutch bunker shot from 107 yards and had a 15-foot birdie putt to win, only to come up short and shoot 75.

The biggest surprise was Stanford, a forgotten figure until her 20-foot birdie putt curled down the ridge on the 18th and disappeared for a birdie. She shot 74, and was thrilled to play one more day.

"The fact you have a chance to win the U.S. Open ... if you're not nervous, you're not human," Stanford said.

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