Sorenstam Stays In Front In Japan

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TOKYO (AP) -- Annika Sorenstam shot a 2-under-par 70 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead in the Nichirei Cup, her last tournament before playing in the PGA Tour's Colonial.

Sorenstam had three birdies and one bogey on the Tokyo Yomiuri course to finish 36 holes at 8-under 136. Japan's Junko Yasui, tied with Sorenstam after the first round, was second after a 71.
 
'Today's round wasn't as solid as yesterday's,' said Sorenstam, who shot a 66 Thursday. 'I wasn't hitting the ball like I wanted to and was short on almost every green.'

Annika SorenstamSorenstam, set to face the men in two weeks in Fort Worth, Texas, had her first birdie of the day on the par-5 sixth hole, hitting a sand wedge to 11 feet and making the uphill putt.

The Swedish star reached 8 under with a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 14, but dropped a stroke on the next hole when her approach found the greenside bunker and she two-putted for bogey. She added a two-putt birdie on the par-5 17th to return to 8 under.

'The wind made it very difficult,' Sorenstam said. 'I kept throwing grass up to check the direction and it was different every time.'

Sorenstam, who won 13 worldwide events last year, was sixth last week in the Michelob Light Open in Virginia, and has one victory in five starts this year. She will become the first woman to play on the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias in the 1945 Los Angeles Open.

'My driving is very good,' Sorenstam said. 'My putting and chip shots are pretty good but not perfect and occasionally lead to mistakes that result in bogeys.'

Yasui also birdied the 17th, but closed with a bogey on the par-3 18th to finish one stroke back.

'I played well today,' Yasui said. 'But the putts didn't drop like yesterday and it will be tough to beat Annika.'

Defending champion Yuri Fudo of Japan was five strokes back after a 67.
 
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