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Big Play Reinvigorated by a fortunate break on the 72nd hole, Annika Sorenstam took advantage by nailing a long approach shot and forcing a playoff

June 16, 2003
June 16, 2003

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June 16, 2003

Sports Illustrated Bonus Section
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Big Play Reinvigorated by a fortunate break on the 72nd hole, Annika Sorenstam took advantage by nailing a long approach shot and forcing a playoff

For much of the final round at the LPGA Championship, Annika
Sorenstam looked tense and unsure--and her play reflected it. By
the time she reached the 18th tee, she had blown a four-shot lead
and was tied with Grace Park, who was in the clubhouse at six
under. Then Annika pushed her drive with another unbalanced
swing. As the ball sailed right, she yelled at it to stay out of
the gnarly rough. When it obediently stopped in the first cut,
Annika flashed her biggest smile of the day. She knew she had
gotten a great break, and that was all it took to rekindle her
spirit and refocus her mind. While waiting to hit her 195-yard
approach, Annika chatted with her caddie, giggled and ate a
banana. Then she flushed the shot of the day--a seven-wood to 20
feet (above). It was the first time in a while that Annika had
bent at the hips (not at the knees) at address, stood on the
balls of her feet (not on her heels) and looked relaxed. After
two-putting to force sudden death, she made a textbook par on the
first playoff hole to beat Park. Annika has many talents, but
being able to regroup in a split second, as she did on Sunday,
could be her most impressive. Just as with her reshaped body,
Annika trains her mind with a relentless and precise practice
regimen. Her caddie often stands out on the range with a
walkie-talkie and relays the precise distance of each shot.
Details like that might seem trivial, but they give Annika the
confidence to overcome adversity.

This is an article from the June 16, 2003 issue

FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CBS (SORENSTAM)COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT (2) Patti McGowan owns Knack 4 Golf, a school at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando, and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.COLOR PHOTOMONTAGE: ANDREW GOMBERT (2)/JIM GUND (BACKGROUND)

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"The public is just beginning to see the fun side of Annika
Sorenstam, which she has always kept private. We both live at
Lake Nona, in Orlando, and everybody from the bag room attendants
to the waiters loves her to death."

"Watching golf on TV is often like watching paint dry because
not enough pros realize that they're in the entertainment
business. We need more players like John Jacobs, who wiggled,
waggled, laughed and cried his way to a win at the Senior PGA."

"One reason people don't care about the LPGA is that the
networks often give the tour short shrift, as CBS did with it's
halfhearted coverage of the LPGA Championship. Viewers got fewer
cameras, nary a Telestrator and little enthusiasm from the
talent."

"Golf fans want to see more of the stars, and I have a
solution that sponsors would love: A new tour that has five
events a year and features the top 20 players from the PGA,
Champions, LPGA and European tours, competing against each other
from staggered tees."

THE TIP
THE SUMO WRESTLER DRILL

THE FOUNDATION of a good swing is proper balance and posture.
Many teachers say the correct address position is akin to sitting
on a stool, but I disagree. Most of your weight should be on the
balls of your feet. You should bend forward at the hips with only
enough knee flex that your shoelaces are visible. To learn good
balance and posture, do my sumo wrestler drill (left), which I
created when one of them showed me his ready position. It is
exactly the same position a golfer should be in when addressing
the ball. In the drill face another person and jump a few times
to develop spring in your legs. Then bend forward at the hips,
hold up your hands and gently push against your partner. That
pushing motion will ensure that your weight is forward on the
balls of your feet.