Francella wins playoff duel over Sorenstam

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Meaghan Francella celebrated on the 18th green Monday after defeating Annika Sorenstram in a playoff at the MasterCard Classic in Huixquilucan, Mexico. (CLAUDIO CRUZ ~ Associated Press)

The rain-delayed MasterCard Classic provided the New Yorker with her first LPGA Tour victory.

HUIXQUILUCAN, Mexico -- Even Meaghan Francella found it hard believe:~

She actually beat Annika Sorenstam in a playoff for her first LPGA Tour victory.

"I can't describe it. It's something I've worked for my entire life," the 24-year-old New Yorker said Monday after winning the rain-delayed MasterCard Classic in only her sixth LPGA Tour start. "Annika is the best player in the world and I was little intimidated. ... I was on the third tee with her and I thought, `Man am I really doing this?' I thought I was dreaming. It was pretty exciting."

The former University of North Carolina star from Port Chester, N.Y., won with a 4-foot birdie putt on the fourth extra hole. She closed with a 3-under 69 to match Sorenstam (66) at 11-under 205 on the Bosque Real course -- the longest on the tour at 6,932 yards and also the highest at about 8,000 feet above sea level.

Francella, the 2003 Atlantic Coast Conference champion who earned her tour card last year with a fifth-place finish on the Futures Tour money list, made the winning 4-foot putt after Sorenstam missed a 7-foot birdie try.

"I wasn't expecting Annika to miss that putt," Francella said. "I just stayed in my moment and made that putt. I had nothing to lose out there today."

Francella, who earned $180,000 for the breakthrough victory, birdied the par-4 16th to tie Sorenstam at 11 under and finished regulation with two straight pars.

Sorenstam, the two-time defending champion making her first start of the year, had seven birdies and a bogey -- on the 16th hole.

Angela Stanford (67), Kyeong Bae (67) and Stacy Prammanasudh (71) tied for third at 8 under, and Lorena Ochoa (70), Shi Hyun Ahn (67) and Hye Jung Choi (69) followed at 6 under.

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