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2006 Florida Natural Charity ChampionshipSTOCKBRIDGE, Ga. -- Cristie Kerr and Maria Hjorth posted matching rounds of 7-under-par 65 Thursday to share the lead after the opening round of the Florida's Natural Charity Championship.
 
Women's world No. 1 and defending champion Annika Sorenstam is one stroke back at minus-6. She was joined there by Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Candy Hannemann.
 
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is going for her second LPGA Tour win of the season.
Karrie Webb, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship three weeks ago, is tied for sixth at 5-under-par 67. She stands alongside Suzann Pettersen, A.J. Eathorne, Julieta Granada, Natalie Gulbis, Pat Hurst and Juli Inkster.
 
Sorenstam, who has struggled since her win at the MasterCard Classic in March, three-putted for bogey on the first. She came right back with a 4-foot birdie putt on two to erase that early mistake.
 
The Swede knocked her second shot to the par-5 sixth within tap-in range. The eagle got Sorenstam to minus-2, but she fell back to even-par with bogeys on eight and 11.
 
Sorenstam, however, turned it on after her third bogey. She sank 5-foot birdie putts on 12 and 13, then chipped to a foot at the 14th to get to minus-3.
 
A 10-foot birdie try on 16 and a 12-footer on 17 moved Sorenstam to 5 under. She made it three straight to close her round with a two-putt birdie at the last to end one back.
 
'I'm happy with my day. I made a lot of birdies and an eagle, but I did make a few mistakes,' Sorenstam commented. 'Three bogeys out there, but overall to comeback after weeks off, I played solid.'
 
Kerr got her round going with an up-and-down birdie on the par-5 second. She took advantage of the next par-5, No. 6, with a two-putt birdie.
 
The 28-year-old ran home a 20-footer for birdie on the eighth to move to minus-3. Around the turn, Kerr sank a 7-foot birdie putt on the 10th. She two-putted the 13th, also a par-5, to get to 5 under.
 
Kerr, a six-time winner on tour, came right back with a birdie on the 14th. She dropped her approach within 6 feet at the 17th, setting up her final birdie. Kerr had birdied the first three par-5s, but could only par the par-5 closing hole.
 
'I switched putters this week to get a better alignment,' Kerr said. 'The new putter gave me a completely different feel. I hit it fairly decent today. I gave myself a lot of opportunities, which I was able to capitalize on.'
 
Hjorth started her round the same way as Kerr with an up-and-down birdie on the second. She collected her second birdie on No. 4 when she ran home an 18-foot putt.
 
The 32-year-old birdied six and seven to get to 4 under. Hjorth parred her next five holes around the turn. She ran in an 8-footer for birdie on 13 and came right back with a 10-foot birdie putt on 14. Hjorth closed with a 15-foot birdie putt at the last to share the overnight lead.
 
'Shooting 7 under is always fun,' said Hjorth, whose two tour wins came in 1999. 'I have had a few tournaments where I have done well in the first round, and I haven't been able to keep it up. So hopefully this week I can keep it up.'
 
Paula Creamer, the 2005 LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year, is one of 11 players tied for 13th place at 4-under-par 68.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Florida's Natural Charity Championship
  • Full Coverage - Florida's Natural Charity Championship