Golf's major championship season resumes this week—no, not with the arrival of another sprawling U.S. Open preview, but rather with an actual major, the McDonald's LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Del. For all the breathless discussion of Tiger Woods's Grand Slam chances, a more realistic prospect is the Soren-Slam. After roaring to an 11-stroke victory at last week's inaugural Kellogg-Keebler Classic, in Chesterfield, Mo., Annika Sorenstam storms into the LPGA Championship with designs on her own impregnable quadrilateral. With thinner fields and three tailor-made venues awaiting, Sorenstam is dreaming out loud about running the table.
"Sure, sometimes late at night I lie in bed thinking about winning a Grand Slam," says Sorenstam, whose opening-round 63 in Chesterfield keyed her fourth victory of the season. "I do think it is very possible."
Next up is tight and twisty DuPont Country Club, where Sorenstam has three top 10 finishes in seven previous trips, including a fifth last year and a third in 1997, when she finished a shot out of a playoff. "Anytime you have a course with small greens and narrow fairways like you do at the McDonald's, you have to make Annika a favorite," says Juli Inkster, a two-time winner at the LPGA Championship. To finally prevail, Sorenstam will have to eliminate the one sloppy round that has plagued her in the past, like the second-round 73 in 1997.
The last woman to win the first two legs of the Grand Slam was Pat Bradley, in 1986, but she finished fifth at the U.S. Women's Open. If Sorenstam takes the LPGA Championship, her quest for the Grand Slam will take her to the U.S. Women's Open on July 4 in Hutchinson, Kans., at Prairie Dunes Country Club, the linksy Perry Maxwell masterwork revered for its undulating, pot-bunkered landscape. Sorenstam fell in love with Prairie Dunes when it hosted the '91 U.S. Women's Amateur, in which she was eliminated in the third round of match play. "I have always dreamed of going back and winning there," she says.
Were that to happen, a larger dream could be realized at the Women's British Open (Aug. 8-11) at Turnberry. Sorenstam has never laid eyes on the famed Scottish links, but she draws a parallel with Prairie Dunes. "The tougher the course, the more strategy needed, the more accuracy is at a premium, the more I like it," she says.
Though the British Open was officially designated a major championship only last year, it has always been paramount to Sorenstam, three times a runner-up. "That is the one I'd ultimately like to win," she says. "Growing up in Europe, I used to say when I was practicing, This putt is to win the Open."
After completing her romp at the Kellogg-Keebler, Sorenstam was asked if the 21-under finish—which tied Wendy Ward's 54-hole record—was her finest performance over three consecutive days. "The combination of everything, this is probably the best I've played," she said.
This would rate as terrifying news to her competitors—if they didn't already know they were in trouble. "She is dominating this tour like no one has before," says Inkster. "She is so primed to make a run at the Grand Slam."