Meunier-Lebouc: Beating Sorenstam just took a little pressure

It isn't impossible. She isn't unbeatable. One just can't let Annika Sorenstam play the mental game of intimidation and pressure.

Take Grace Park. She forced a playoff with Sorenstam last weekend in the LPGA Championship in Delaware, only to lose on the first playoff hole.

Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, on the other hand, overtook Sorenstam in the second round of the year's first major, the Kraft Nabisco, at Rancho Mirage, Calif., in March. She held on to the lead and finished one stroke ahead of Sorenstam, the best woman golfer in the world.

Meunier-Lebouc, in her second full year on the LPGA Tour, took home $240,000 for outdueling Sorenstam, who has won 15 tournaments and played in one memorable PGA Tour event in the past 16 months.

When the U.S. Women's Open is played July 3-6 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course, one golfer will know firsthand how to beat Sorenstam.

'Maybe I put some pressure on her because I was not moving,' says Meunier-Lebouc, 30, of Dijon, France. 'Whatever she was going to do, I was going to do my stuff. And I was really playing well.'

Meunier-Lebouc won the major in her 47th career start. It was her second career win. She has missed only two of 10 cuts and ranks fourth in earnings with $459,166 Ñ about half of Sorenstam's take.

She also is firmly in contention to play in the Solheim Cup, Sept. 12-14, in Sweden.

She credits her husband, Antoine, for much of her success. Antoine Lebouc played on the European Tour for five years. Now he coaches and manages his wife.

'She's really pretty good everywhere,' he says. 'Not too short, not too long. Pretty powerful, but not too much.'

Says the LPGA pro: 'He tells me to give 100 percent. It's golf. It's not going to be perfect every week. Just because I won a major tournament doesn't mean I'm going to win the next one. I do my best. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.'

As she found out against Sorenstam, 'You have to have everything together to play at this level. When you're not feeling confident, everything falls apart.'

Meunier-Lebouc, who moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., in January but had spent only nine days there until this week, also will play in the LPGA Safeway Classic, Sept. 26-28, at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

It will be her third Safeway Classic appearance.

'I love the area. It's the only area I really got to visit,' she says. 'We went and drove around Mount Hood two years ago. Last year, we went rafting. It's very pretty. We don't have much time to do these things usually.'

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