Sorenstam Struggles at Own LPGA Event

By Associated PressMay 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ginn Tribute Hosted by AnnikaCHARLESTON, S.C. -- Annika Sorenstams name is everywhere at the Ginn Tribute except where she wanted it most'near the top of the leaderboard after Thursdays opening round.
Sorenstams even-par 72 left her seven shots behind co-leaders Karrie Webb and In-Kyung Kim, and tied for 60th at RiverTowne Country Club.
Sophie Gustafson was third at 66. U.S. Open winner Cristie Kerr led a group of seven another stroke back at 67.
Sorenstam, ranked second in the world, has looked forward to playing strongly at the tournament shes hosted the past two years. Pairing sheets, programs, caps and t-shirts all bear her first name, ANNIKA, in capital letters.
The event lost world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa earlier this week when she left to be with her sick uncle in Mexico, leaving Sorenstam as the marquee attraction.
Sorenstam was injured a year ago, her event the first one back after nearly two months away from the tour to heal. She finished tied for 36th and vowed to do better for fans and sponsors.
A year later, Sorenstam came in with three tour victories, her old-school precision and a sense of urgency after announcing earlier in May shed step away from competitive golf after this season.
Yet again, Sorenstam couldnt get much going at RiverTowne. She opened with a bogey and had a disastrous triple bogey 7 on the fifth hole.
I need some low scores the next few days, Sorenstam said.
Instead it was Webb who was the Hall-of-Famer on fire in the opening round. She had five birdies and an eagle for her 7-under 65.
Ive been swinging it quite nicely for the majority of the year, and just not getting the most out of it, Webb said.
She might say that about this round, too.
Webb rolled in an uphill, 35-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole to tie for the lead. She moved in front a hole later, chipping to 4 feet on the par-5 11th for another birdie.
Webb nearly made it three in row on the 12th, but her 15-foot rolled completely around the cup and out. Webb began pumping her fist in celebration, stopping immediately when the ball popped out. She turned and grinned back at her caddie as she walked back to her bag.
Webb followed with birdie putts of 15 feet or less on the next three holes' none that she could convert. Webb closed strongly, though, knocking a 5-iron to five feet for birdie on the difficult par-4 18th hole.
Even though you could have left some out there, Im not going to complain too much, Webb said, smiling.
What she got to complain about? It was Webbs best opening round of the season and just a stroke off her low round this year, a 64 to close the Stanford International Pro-Am last month.
Webb hasnt won on the LPGA Tour since 2006, although she has captured three tournaments in her homeland of Australia since. Webb hopes to regain that championship touch on the LPGA Tour.
Id like to give myself more chances of winning than I am, and then hopefully start getting on that track where Im pulling off those wins, she said.
Kim, a second-year pro from South Korea, had four birdies in five holes to move into contention. She tied Webb with a birdie on the par-5 16th hole'Kims eighth birdie of the round'after putting her wedge to 10 feet.
I had a lot of opportunities and I think I made the most of them, she said.
Sorenstam wanted a lower score. Still, she was proud she steadied herself with two birdies on her final eight holes
I made triple today and that really hurt me, Sorenstam said. You cant do this tomorrow, or any day really.
Especially not if you want to win your namesake tournament.
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