Sorenstam opens her season with a victory

Monday, March 13, 2006

Annika Sorenstam opened her LPGA Tour season with a successful title defense in the MasterCard Classic, closing with a 2-under 70 for a one-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Seon Hwa Lee.

Sorenstam, even par and tied for the lead after nine holes, reeled off three birdies in four holes to take the tournament with an 8-under 208 total.

On the 18th hole, the Swede three-putted from 40 feet away, winning with a tap-in bogey. It was the 21st time she has successfully defended a title.

"You come here with high expectations to defend a title, it's always tough, but I thought I played really well this week," she said. "This is a great event to start off the season. I got off to a great start."

A mariachi band played as Sorenstam held the trophy high, and one of the band members placed a massive brown and black sombrero on her head.

The event at Bosque Real Country Club in Huixquilucan, Mexico, outside Mexico City, marked Sorenstam's first LPGA Tour start since winning the ADT Championship in November and her first competitive appearance since teaming with Liselotte Neumann in January to win the Women's World Cup in South Africa.

Last year, Sorenstam also won in Mexico to start her season, closing with a 68 for a three-stroke victory. She has won 11 of her last 21 LPGA Tour starts and has 67 career victories -- 21 short of Kathy Whitworth's record.

PGA Tour

Luke Donald won the Honda Classic for his second PGA Tour title, shooting a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over Geoff Ogilvy in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Donald used back-to-back birdies midway through his back nine to take the outright lead at 11 under, made a great scrambling par on the difficult 16th to preserve the margin and hold off Ogilvy (69).

The Englishman earned $990,000 for his first win since the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He made a 10-foot birdie putt at the 13th and a 25-footer on the 14th for the lead, then holed a slippery 18-footer to save par on the 16th.

David Toms (69) and Billy Mayfair (72) tied for third at 9 under.

Champions Tour

Tom Kite won his first Champions Tour title since 2004, closing with a 2-under 70 for a five-stroke victory over Gil Morgan in the AT&T Classic in Santa Clarita, Calif.

-- From wire reports

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