Sorenstam Stalking the Lead in Florida

By Associated PressApril 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
Stanford International Pro-AmAVENTURA, Fla. -- Annika Sorenstam has made no secret that she wasnt thrilled about the course setup this week at the Stanford International Pro-Am.
 
That doesnt mean she doesnt enjoy'and thrive on'demanding courses.
 
Sorenstam shot a 4-under 67 on the Soffer course Friday, drawing her within one shot of Young Kim at the midway point of the inaugural event, being contested at Turnberry Isle. Kim also shot a 67, matching her first-round score on Turnberrys Miller track. Theyll enter the third round with a solid cushion over Paula Creamer (71) and Angela Stanford (70), both of whom were 2 under.
 
So far, so good, Sorenstam said. We have a long ways to go.
 
Sorenstams day began with three straight birdies, and on a day where par seemed like a mystifying score for most players, that was enough to cement her status near the top of the leaderboard. Only seven players were under par through two rounds, with Meena Lee (71), Momeko Ueda (72) and Kyeong Bae (71) at 1 under to round out that elite group.
 
Its not easy out there, said Sorenstam, who finished the day with five birdies and one bogey. To get off to a good start like that, its important. It gives you a little more confidence for the day. Im very happy with the way I played today. I hit the ball extremely well. A lot of fairways, a lot of greens.
 
For almost everyone else, it was a battle.
 
The cut was 7 over, and even that wasnt enough to keep Morgan Pressel (74) around for the weekend at the tournament taking place about a half-hour south of her home. Pressel plays with the Stanford logo on her sleeve, and giant photos of her are plastered everywhere at Turnberry this week.
 
Theyll likely be the only visions of her near the course this weekend.
 
Pressel, who has battled her putting for weeks, three-putted the par-5 18th and finished 8 over.
 
Its like I never figured out that the greens are slow, said Pressel, battling her emotions a bit. And it cost me.
 
Carolina Llano, who was the last alternate into the field and ended the first round just two shots off the lead, shot an 80 to miss the cut. Natalie Gulbis missed what she thought was a critical birdie putt on her final hole, yet squeaked in on the number. Brittany Lincicome shot an 80 for the second straight day and finished 19 over.
 
Maybe the best illustration of how tough Turnberry has been so far: There were only seven players with five or more birdies on Friday, and at least 42 players with five or more bogeys or worse.
 
I thought the course played really tough today, said Juli Inkster, who shot a 71 on the Miller course and was seven shots behind through 36 holes at even par, putting her in a group that included, among others, Cristie Kerr (72), Christina Kim (71), Mi Hyun Kim (71) and Grace Park (69). Some of the pins, you just cant get to. I shot 1 over and hit some funky shots out there, but Im happy with that.
 
Theres two courses in use this week, the par-71 Soffer layout and the par-70 Miller track, with each Pro-Am team playing those courses once Thursday and Friday. For the third and fourth rounds, only the Soffer course will be used, and the team competition will end Saturday for those twosomes who made the cut in the best-ball handicap format.
 
Young Kim played the Soffer course for the first time Friday, and found it to her liking. The conditions, though, left her unable to recall much of her nearly flawless round.
 
I cannot remember it all, she said, because it was too windy.
 
Creamers hopes nearly blew away early. She had a share of the lead entering the second round. Three holes into the day, it was long gone. She opened bogey-bogey-double, but the worlds No. 4 player held on and salvaged the day, making birdies on two of her final three holes to stay somewhat near the two leaders.
 
Four over after three isnt the way you want to start on a golf course like this, Creamer said. Definitely not. Its so windy and the greens are so firm and the pin placements were a little bit ridiculous. It makes these rounds a lot longer than what they should be.
 
The pace was a bit better Friday: Instead of the six-hour rounds that some endured in the opening round, 5 1/2 -hour jaunts were more of the norm in the second round. With the Pro-Am field being trimmed to 20 teams for the third round, it figures to pick up considerably on Saturday.
 
The key is just to be patient, Sorenstam said.
 
Notes
 
Tennis star James Blake (playing with Creamer), and actor James Caan (playing with Christina Kim) both missed the Pro-Am cut. Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, who opened with a 91, rebounded with an 81 on Friday. Yani Tseng and Candie Kung both opened with 68s, but plummeted Friday. Tseng shot 77, Kung a 79.
 
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