Annika Rested and Ready

By Associated PressJuly 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Annika Sorenstam got a little more rest than she wanted before the start of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
After taking Tuesday off following her playoff victory Monday in the U.S. Women's Open, Sorenstam missed a chance to play the Hamilton Farm course Wednesday when heavy morning rain forced officials to move the pro-am round to the adjacent par-3 course.
'I remember quite a bit,' said Sorenstam, a quarterfinalist last year on the hilly course. 'My caddie has been out and he's been able to maneuver me through a lot of different courses. I'm not too worried about that.'
The top-seeded Swede will open against No. 64 Virada Nirapathpongporn on Thursday. On Monday in Newport, R.I., Sorenstam beat Pat Hurst 70-74 in an 18-hole playoff for her third U.S. Women's Open title and 10th major victory.
'I got some rest yesterday and rested a bit on Monday afternoon,' Sorenstam said. 'I think when you go through something like this, it's just so much energy and so much adrenaline still that I don't think about how I feel. ... I was lucky I had two weeks off before the Open. My batteries are totally recharged.'
In the other half of the draw, second-seeded Michelle Wie will face 63rd-seeded Candy Hannemann. The 16-year-old Wie, coming off a third-place tie in the Women's Open, got a look at the course Tuesday morning during a practice round, then had a long practice session and played in the pro-am Wednesday afternoon.
'Just getting out here today was important,' Wie said. 'After the bad weather this morning, it was nice to be able to get out and walk some and play some shots. ... I played a lot of par-3 courses growing up, but nothing like this. It's awesome. The holes are so secluded, not like some little rinky-dink par-3 course.'
Wie went to work soon after the rain stopped, fine-tuning her wedge play and blasting some drives off the back of the range. She also spent a lot of time on the practice green before and after the pro-am, stopping occasionally to chat with Paula Creamer and possible second-round opponent Christina Kim during the first session.
Fourth-seeded Karrie Webb, set to play Nancy Scranton, missed a chance to see the course Wednesday after taking Tuesday off.
'I'm not overly concerned about it, especially with the rain,' Webb said. 'It's going to play pretty similar to what it did last year. The fairways are probably the widest we play on tour. Then with them being wet, it makes them doubly wide.
'Mentally, this course isn't as challenging as a U.S. Open course. ... It's more of a mind-set where you're setting up to try and play pretty aggressive.'
Webb, the Kraft Nabisco and Michelob Ultra Open winner, reached the quarterfinals last year before losing to eventual champion Marisa Baena.
'It's a different mind-set,' the Australian said. 'You're just playing your opponent on the day and obviously you can shoot 64 and lose or shoot a couple over and win. You've just got to beat the person you're playing that day.'
Third-seeded Lorena Ochoa, also a two-time winner this year and the tour's money leader, will open against Il Mi Chung.
'I think it's a great golf course to be aggressive,' Ochoa said. 'I think you can really make a lot of birdies out there, especially if you take advantage of the opportunities on the greens. They're going to be very soft. You can go for it.'
Baena, seeded 37th, will play Wendy Ward. Last year, Baena won her first LPGA Tour title as the No. 60 seed, beating Meena Lee 1-up in the final.
The Colombian, bothered by back, neck, rib and stomach problems this season, missed the cut in the Women's Open with rounds of 80 and 71.
'Unfortunately, I had some putting issues at the Open,' Baena said. 'So, I'm a little concerned about it.'
About 1 1/2 inches of rain fell Wednesday morning. ... Laura Diaz got a first-round bye when 22nd-seeded Shi Hyun Ahn withdrew Wednesday because of a back injury. ... Nirapathpongporn, the 24-year-old former Duke player from Thailand, won the 2002 NCAA title and 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur. ... The winner will receive $500,000 from the $2 million purse. ... After single rounds Thursday and Friday, the third round and quarterfinals will be played Saturday and the semifinals and final are set for Sunday.
Related Links:
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