Sorenstam's putt sets up rich Sunday at Skins Game

Posted: Sunday, November 28, 2004

LA QUINTA, Calif. Annika Sorenstam calmly sank a short birdie putt on the ninth hole, earning a hug from Tiger Woods.

More importantly, it kept $250,000 in play in the Skins Game.

''I was glad to make it when I really needed to,'' said Sorenstam, the LPGA star who otherwise struggled Saturday against the longer-hitting men in her second straight Skins Game.

Woods and Fred Couples, the grand master of the skins format, were happy, too. Adam Scott, a young Aussie making his Skins Game debut, would have taken that $250,000 and swept Saturday's skins if Sorenstam hadn't made the putt from about 4 feet.

Instead, the money will carry over and the first hole on Sunday will be worth $300,000.

Scott did win $50,000 and two skins by sinking a 40-foot putt on the par-4, 415-yard second hole. After that, neither he nor the more-famous members of the foursome could break through on the next seven holes of the made-for-TV tournament.

''Tomorrow, like Adam made the one on No. 2, that can easily happen on the 10th hole, and somebody's going to be way, way ahead of the game,'' said Couples, a four-time winner who's playing in his 11th Skins Game.

''That's what I'm shooting for.''

The four will be playing for a total of $950,000 during the final nine holes at Trilogy Golf Club and it could be cold and windy when they tee off at 8:30 a.m.

Scott birdied the par-5, 500-yard ninth, meaning someone had to tie him for the $250,000 to carry over to Sunday. It wasn't going to be Couples, who drove into the rough and then two-putted for par.

Woods' birdie putt from about 6 feet lipped out nothing new for him during the round before Sorenstam sank her putt to halve the hole.

''I should've made things a little bit easier for Annika on the last hole, but kind of blew that one,'' said Woods, who is playing against Sorenstam for the first time. ''But I had my chances today to get a couple skins and just couldn't do it.''

Scott, a 24-year-old who won The Players Championship in March, was just glad he won't get shut out in his first Merrill Lynch Skins Game.

''It was a bit of a surprise to drop it in there from about 40 feet,'' he said.

''It got a little exciting on the ninth there, but the rock over here just rolled it in no problem at all,'' he said, referring to Sorenstam. ''We're going to start off tomorrow with a big 10th hole.''

Last year, Sorenstam holed a memorable 39-yard bunker shot on the ninth to win $175,000. This year, the nines have been flipped at Trilogy.

Scott's two skins were the fewest won on the first day in the 22-year tournament history.

Couples, the defending champion, and Woods, who has a miserable Skins Game record, both had great chances to win skins.

Couples, who's won a record $2,875,000 and 66 skins in 10 previous appearances, could have won $200,000 and six skins on the par-3, 234-yard eighth hole. He curled a 15-foot putt just in front of the cup then said, ''Come on!''

Woods left his 12-foot putt short on the same hole. ''Interesting,'' he said.

Woods had won only nine skins and $225,000 in his previous four Skins Games appearances, and his bad luck continued on the early holes.

His putts hit the cup on Nos. 1, 2 and 4, but didn't fall.

With a chance to win two skins and $50,000 on the par-4, 434-yard No. 4, Woods' 12-foot putt brushed the right edge of the cup and rolled a foot past.

With his left hand on his hip and a disgusted look on his face, he said: ''You've got to be kidding me.''

Couples had a similar feeling on the par-4, 412-yard fifth hole, when his 8-foot birdie putt, for $75,000, missed just right. Scott also had a chance for a birdie after a tough approach shot when he had a tree in his swing path, but rolled it past the hole.

Shinhan Korea Golf Championship

JEJU, South Korea European Ryder Cup player Miguel Angel Jimenez shot a 3-under 69 in windy conditions to take the third-round lead in the Shinhan Korea Golf Championship, the first PGA Tour-sanctioned Challenge Season event in Asia.

Jimenez, coming off a four-victory season on the European tour, had a 2-under 214 total on the Jungmun course. American Arron Oberholser (70) was a stroke behind.

Australian Open

SYDNEY, Australia Australia's Rod Pampling took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the centennial Australian Open, shooting a 3-over 74.

Pampling, who won The International in August for his first PGA Tour victory, had a 5-under 208 total on The Australian Golf Club course, also the site of the inaugural tournament in 1904. Australian left-hander Richard Green was second after a 67.

China Open

SHANGHAI, China Wales' Stephen Dodd overcame a triple bogey to shoot a 2-under 70 and maintain a three-stroke lead after the third round of the China Open, the first event of the 2005 PGA European Tour schedule.

Dodd, seeking his first European tour title, had an 8-under 208 total on the Silport course. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn (68) and Soren Hansen (70) were 5 under.

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