Bad drop not good for Wie

Teen disqualified in 1st event as pro

Sorenstam cruises


Palm Desert, Calif. -- Michelle Wie's first professional tournament ended the way many women's golf tournaments do: with Annika Sorenstam carding the lowest score, collecting the winner's share of the purse and carting home a trophy.

Sorenstam's stop-and-start final round of 3-under-par 69 beneath dark, threatening skies and intermittent showers yesterday gave the defending champion a 72-hole total of 18-under 270, good enough for an eight-shot victory in the Samsung World Championship at Bighorn Golf Club.

The more extraordinary news of the day came nearly two hours after she had holed out on the 18th hole, when it was announced that the 16-year-old Wie had been disqualified for taking an improper drop from the bushes Saturday.

The Hawaiian's 8-under, fourth-place finish, good for a welcome-to-the-pros paycheck of $53,126, was wiped from the books, her purse withdrawn.

"You know, I learned a great lesson today," Wie said, her eyes watery. "You know, from now on I'm going to call a rules official no matter what it is. I'm really sad this happened, but, you know, the rules are the rules."

The late development upstaged an impressive Sorenstam win.

Earlier, only a thunderstorm moving through the area slowed the Swede's march to the 64th tournament victory of her career and eighth this year.

With her closest pursuers falling away early and rain and lightning interrupting play three times for delays totaling 3 hours 20 minutes, Sorenstam weathered a test of patience more than anything else in blowing away the field and assuring that she will be the LPGA Tour Player of the Year for the eighth time, breaking a record she shared with Kathy Whitworth. She pocketed a $212,500 check that pushed her season's earnings past the $2 million mark for the fifth consecutive year.

"I know Annika was probably sending a statement to the world," runner-up Paula Creamer said. "You know, `I'm still here. I'm still the best player.'"

The only player in LPGA Tour history to have won more than $2 million in a season, she won the 20-player, invitation-only event for the fifth time, joining Mickey Wright as the only players to win the same LPGA event five times.

"I don't think I need to send a statement to anyone, especially not myself," said Sorenstam, assured of leading the year-end money list for the eighth time. "I know what I've achieved. But I am going to tell you, I love the competition. I love the challenge. There is no doubt about it that I wanted to play well this week. ... "There are always certain tournaments where you feel a little extra heartbeat, where there is a little extra on the line, and this was one of them."

Creamer, who started the day tied for sixth, closed with a two-under 70 to finish second at 10 under. Gloria Park, with a 74 yesterday, was third at nine under.

Jerry Crowe writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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