Annika Sorenstam did what she usually does when she's near the lead on Sunday.
Michelle Estill was so close to a victory, then Sorenstam rallied with four birdies on the back nine and finished with a 4-under-par 68 to win the
Corning Classic by two strokes over Estill and Vicki Goetze-Ackerman.
It was Sorenstam's third victory in six tournaments this year, No. 51 overall, and her 16th come-from-behind triumph.
The victory was even sweeter because it came one year after Sorenstam chose to play against the men at Colonial instead competing in the Corning.
"The biggest thing is that I felt support last year when I did play Colonial. Corning was very supportive," said Sorenstam, who hadn't played the
Corning Country Club course in nine years and won despite two weeks off and not even a practice round.
"They said whatever is good for the LPGA is good for us, and I thought that was a great comment. That's the way I was looking at the Colonial, too.
Long-term, I always thought it was good for the LPGA."
Sorenstam finished at 18-under-par 270 and pocketed $150,000 to take over the top spot on the money list from Grace Park.
Estill can only dream about that. She hasn't won on tour since 1991, her rookie year, and lost her tour card after making only two cuts in 20 starts
in 2003 while fighting a bad back.
"Today was kind of a test," said Estill, who had a closing 71. "I had a great day. It was fun to battle with Annika out there and kind of keep up. It
was fun to be in the hunt."
Estill held a one-shot lead over Sorenstam to start the day and held her own over the first seven holes as Sorenstam struggled, even under ideal
playing conditions -- blue skies, a light breeze and temperatures in the 70s.
Estill birdied two of the first four holes, and when Sorenstam carded her second bogey of the day at No. 6, two-putting from 6 feet, her frustration
was visible. Estill held a four-shot lead and appeared on the way to the second win of her career.
"I came to a point where I got totally frustrated with myself," Sorenstam said. "Walking away with a bogey on 6 was maybe a turning point."
Estill did her share to help. Two holes later, she hit a gap wedge over the green and two-putted from 40 feet for bogey. Sorenstam then hit a 9-iron
to 9 feet and birdied the ninth hole and crushed a soaring drive at No. 10 that helped set up a 3-foot birdie putt.
That quickly, the final twosome was tied. Goetze-Ackerman, playing just ahead, also was at 15 under after a birdie at No. 9.
"I haven't been there a lot. I'm sure nobody was looking at me," said Goetze-Ackerman, who lost a three-way playoff to Betsy King here four years ago
and is still seeking her first tour win. "I was hoping to sneak up."
She almost did with a 67, her first bogey-free round of the year, but managed only one more birdie on the tough back nine and never mounted a
Estill rebounded with consecutive birdies at Nos. 11 and 12 to take a one-shot lead, and she had a little luck on her side. Her second shot on the
par-5 12th hole cleared a greenside bunker, hit the shoe of a spectator and landed in a good spot. She made a clutch chip to 5 feet to set up the
Estill's luck began to go bad again on the next hole. She drove under the trees in the right rough and had to punch out. When she had to settle for
bogey, the trio was tied again, at 16 under.
Sorenstam, who finished the four rounds an impressive 15 under on the back nine, took the lead for good with a 7-foot birdie putt at No. 14, a
510-yard par-5 with an elevated green.
"I knew I had to birdie no matter where I went," said Estill, who began playing again in March after a six-month layoff. "I can't control what she's
doing. I'm always under the assumption she's going to have a chance for birdie on every hole."
That assumption proved true on 16 as Estill's run of bad luck continued. Her drive landed behind a divot and her second shot came to rest in the rough
behind the green and under a television tower. She salvaged par, but Sorenstam made a short birdie putt to go to 18 under and secure the win.
The last time she played in this event was 1995, her second year on the LPGA Tour, and she had not yet won on tour.
This time the hiatus will be short.
"I'll be back. I should have been here sooner," she said.