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Sorenstam uses Pak to push her to record victory

Annika Sorenstam didn't want to be the first woman to shoot 59 in a tournament and lose.

So she treated her final-round pairing with Se Ri Pak as match play, letting Pak push her to her second straight title and another record score.

"That's a lot of records this week," Sorenstam said Sunday after winning the Standard Register Ping championship with an LPGA-low 72-hole score of 27-under-par 261. "I can't absorb that. It's incredible. But I wasn't really looking to beat records today. I was focused on Se Ri.

"You know, if she would have made it harder, maybe I would have made some more birdies also. Who knows?"

Sorenstam shot 4-under 68 _ with one birdie in the last 12 holes _ to Pak's 67 and won by two shots.

But Sorenstam opened such a big lead with her 59 Friday that she was able to prevail down the stretch with course management and a cool head.

"I had three shots extra in case I needed it _ and I did _ and I'm glad I had them," she said. "I played some really, really good golf today, but Se Ri really stepped it up."

Pak made a determined run.

"Today was almost too easy for Annika, but I think I give her a little hard time," said Pak, who birdied five of the first eight holes to move within a shot, making sure Sorenstam felt the pressure on the back nine.

Sorenstam's second title of the year and the 25th of her career capped the best two-week stretch in LPGA history and allowed her to avoid becoming the first woman to lose a tournament in which she set the low-round record.

Of the three PGA Tour golfers who shot 59, Al Geiberger won the 1977 Memphis Classic and David Duval won the 1999 Bob Hope. But Chip Beck lost despite 59 during the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. Notah Begay and Doug Dunakey lost Buy.com Tour events in 1998 after shooting 59s.

Sorenstam agreed a loss would have tainted her performance.

"But, on the other hand, if I shoot 13 under one day and somebody beats me, hats off to them," she said.

Sorenstam, who has finished no lower than second this year, set a tournament record a week earlier in Tucson when she won at 23 under. This time, her final score eclipsed the 26-under 262 shot by Karrie Webb at the 1999 Australian Masters.

Sorenstam and Webb, the LPGA's top two players, share the 54-hole record at 23 under.

Dottie Pepper (67) and Yu Ping Lin (70) tied for third at 275, with Dorothy Delasin (68) and Akiko Fukushima (69) at 276.

SIEBEL CLASSIC: Hale Irwin narrowly missed a putt that would have given him 64 for the final day of the inaugural Senior PGA Tour event at San Jose, Calif. Instead, he settled for 7-under 65 to finish five strokes ahead of Tom Watson and Allen Doyle for his record 30th career tour victory.

"I would have liked to make that last putt for a 64," he said. "The 65 is wonderful. But you have to keep pushing."

Irwin passed Lee Trevino for career wins on the tour.

The start of the round was delayed because of fog blanketing the Coyote Creek course, but the weather didn't slow Irwin, who started with a one-stoke lead.

Doyle, who started the day one of six players a stroke behind Irwin, had two eagles and two bogeys in a back-and-forth round. In the end, he couldn't make up enough ground and settled for 69 and a 211 total.

Watson opened the 54-hole event with a disappointing 77 but steadily gained ground with 67 on Saturday and Sunday.

Jack Nicklaus, also a stroke behind to start the day, shot 71 to finish in fourth place at 213. His finish was his best on the tour since he tied for second in the 1997 PGA Seniors Championship.

BARONA CREEK WOMEN'S CLASSIC: Beth Bauer of Tampa shot a final-round 69 to tie for third in the Futures Tour event at Lakeside, Calif. Bauer's total of 2-under 214 was matched by Candie Kung, and they were two strokes behind winner Young Kim, who shot 74. Third-round leader Joo Kim was one shot back after 77.

MADEIRA ISLAND OPEN: Des Smyth, a 48-year-old Irishman, won by two strokes to become the oldest winner in the 30 years of the modern European PGA Tour.

"It's amazing what can happen if you just hang in," Smyth said.

This was his eighth European title. He has won in four decades.

Smyth had four birdies on the back nine on the Santo da Serra course and closed with 6-under 66 for a total of 18-under 270. John Bickerton was two strokes behind after 69.

Third-round leader Massimo Florioli shot 73 to finish at 274 and share third with Massimo Scarpa, defending champion Niclas Fasth and Stephen Dodd. Seve Ballesteros shot 76 and finished at 285, tied for 47th.

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