Kerr, Mahan win Begay Challenge
Annika Sorenstam still has game, even if she rarely plays.
Sorenstam had three birdies and playing partner Rickie Fowler
added an eagle – all in the first eight holes – before Cristie Kerr
and Hunter Mahan rallied with six birdies on the back nine for a
10-under 62 and a two-shot victory at Notah Begay’s NB3
”It all comes down to the back nine because everybody plays
well in a format like this,” Kerr said. ”It just comes down to
who’s gonna make a couple more putts coming in. We were fortunate
enough today to do that. We gave ourselves a good look at
Kerr and Mahan trailed Sorenstam and Fowler by two shots at the
turn before pulling away in the closing holes to win the $100,000
top prize in the best-ball competition at Atunyote Golf Club.
Sorenstam and Fowler (64) were second, followed by Vijay Singh
and Suzann Pettersen (66), Camilo Villegas and Anna Rawson (67),
Anthony Kim and Morgan Pressel (68), and Begay and Lorena Ochoa
The event is the chief fundraiser for Begay’s foundation, which
is dedicated to helping fight obesity and diabetes in the Native
American community. He was presented a check for $1.25 million
”We feel we can make an impact on their lives,” Begay
The field was grouped into six mixed teams, with the ladies
hitting from the shorter tee boxes.
The 39-year-old Sorenstam, who retired after the 2008 season,
apologized to Fowler before they teed off.
”I haven’t played. Sorry Rickie,” said Sorenstam, who also was
preparing for her daughter’s birthday on Wednesday.
There wasn’t much to apologize for.
Shortly after a fan shouted ”great to see you back,” Sorenstam
hit inside 3 feet at the 198-yard, par-3 third hole for an easy
birdie. Not to be outdone, Ochoa matched her with a birdie putt
from just inside 10 feet.
At the 185-yard, par-3 sixth hole, Sorenstam and Ochoa both
drove into the right rough beside the green. This time, Sorenstam
reached back into her glorious past with a beautiful chip that
bounced on the green and rolled in the cup for another birdie.
Sorenstam raised both hands in appreciation of the roar of the
crowd, which hovered around 3,000 on a hot, hazy day with
temperatures in the high 80s, then tossed her ball to a fan and
headed for the next tee.
Something happened to Sorenstam’s second shot at the par-4
eighth hole as it landed well short of the green. It didn’t matter
when Fowler rattled home a 40-foot uphill eagle putt that put them
at 6 under and gave them a two-shot lead over Mahan and Kerr and
Begay and Ochoa heading to the back nine.
”I made four birdies, chipped in twice. I’m not complaining,
its my best finish all year,” Sorenstam said with a smile. ”I
love it. It’s always fun to see my friends, but I’m tired. My feet
hurt. I’m not used to it. I’m a little rusty.”
Begay and Ochoa made bogey and double-bogey in the first three
holes on the back to fall out of contention. Kerr had three birdies
on the front nine and five on the back as she and Mahan surged into
”We gave ourselves a good look at birdies. We leaned on each
other all the time,” Kerr said. ”We were just having a lot of fun
helping each other read putts. I think that’s what this event is
all about, teamwork.”
Fowler, who is part Navajo, missed short birdies putt at Nos. 15
and 16 before making birdie at 18 as he and Sorenstam fell just
Just being part of the fundraiser was all that mattered to every
”I was pumped to be part of it, especially to have Annika as a
partner,” Fowler said. ”It’s pretty special to be here.”
Ochoa, who retired four months ago at the height of her game,
said the transition to private life had been ”way easier than I
”I made the right decision,” she said. ”I’m still very
competitive. I think I did my job inside the ropes. Now it’s time
to work outside the ropes.”