Coming off a six-stroke victory Sunday in the Ladies European Tour's Dubai Ladies Masters, Sorenstam birdied the par-5 13th to reach 3 under, but bogeyed the next two holes and closed with three pars on the Kashikojima Country Club course.
'I think I played pretty good today,' Sorenstam said. 'I was happy with where I hit the ball. I hit a lot of fairways. I hit a lot of greens. I'm not disappointed about the round. I rolled in some good putts early on and I kept rolling really good putts, but didn't make anything from pretty much the fourth hole on.'
Last year, she became the first player in LPGA Tour history to win a tournament five straight times and matched the tour record she shares with Mickey Wright for victories in an event. In the Samsung Championship last month in her last LPGA Tour start, Sorenstam lost a final-round lead to Lorena Ochoa in an unsuccessful bid to become the first tour player to win an event six times.
'I don't feel any pressure,' said Sorenstam, who began her streak in 2001 at Musashigaoka and won the last four years on the Seta course in Otsu. 'I just want to come here and play, which is what I've done the last five years. I come here, enjoy myself and see what happens. I try not to think of what's at stake, or the history. I'm just happy to be here and playing and enjoying it.'
The 36-year-old star has three LPGA Tour victories this season, including her third U.S. Women's Open title, to push her career total to 69. She also has won twice on the European tour and teamed with Liselotte Neumann to win the Women's World Cup
Hetherington, the 34-year-old Australian who won the last of her eight LPGA Tour titles in 2003, shot a 7-under 65, highlighted by a 25-yard wedge shot for eagle on the 495-yard 13th. She had a good day on the greens, holing a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 2, 20-footers on Nos. 9, 11 and 15 and a 10-footer on No. 16.
'I putted very well today. I didn't hit the ball very solid, but I putted very well and chipped very well,' Hetherington said. 'I played in Thailand and South Korea last week, so this is my third week in a row. I enjoy playing the events over here. I always feel like I play well here, it's just a matter of making putts.'
Former Duke star Brittany Lang was three strokes back at 68 along with Paraguay's Julieta Granada and Japan's Mitsuko Kawasaki and Rui Kitada. Australia's Karrie Webb, seeking her fifth tour victory of the year, was in a 14-player group at 69 that included 21-year-old Japanese star Ai Miyazato.
'I didn't feel as though my swing was right,' said Webb, third last week in Dubai. 'I didn't drive the ball very well. ... The changes I made with my coach (Ian Triggs) have gotten wild. I guess the pressure got to me a little today, so I'm going to go to the range and try to iron it out.'
Webb was paired with Miyazato.
'I think the world of her,' Webb said. 'It's really fun to play alongside her and see how excited the crowds are out here and look at all the little kids cheering, 'Ai-chan! Ai-chan!' It's a lot of fun to see. The Japanese people really admire her.'
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