Sorenstam Flying High in the Desert


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam posted a 3-under 69 to grab a share of the lead after the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Friday. Sorenstam finished 36 holes at 5-under-par 139 along with Rosie Jones.
Mi Hyun Kim, who was part of a three-way tie for first with Jones and Karen Stupples after round one, carded a 71 to finish one shot off the pace at 4-under-par 140. Defending champion Grace Park and Reilley Rankin shot matching rounds of 68 to share fourth place at 3-under-par 141.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam tries a little body english to coax in a birdie putt in Round 2.
Sorenstam has dominated throughout her career and has enjoyed the spotlight with seven career major titles. The Swede was on fire heading into the season's first major on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills with victories in each of her last four starts on the LPGA Tour dating back to the end of 2004.
'I'm just happy the way I'm hitting the ball and happy the way I'm putting,' said Sorenstam, who won this event in 2001 and 2002. 'I'm right where I want to be and excited about that.'
Sorenstam struggled early with a three-putt bogey at the first but she answered at the par-4 seventh after her second shot stopped within 20 feet of the hole. She ran home the birdie try but missed the green off the tee at the par-3 eighth.
Sorenstam calmly chipped in for a birdie from the sand and dropped her third shot inside 13 feet at the par-5 ninth. She drained the birdie putt to make it three in a row and reach 4 under around the turn.
The Swede continued her fine play on the inward half and chipped her third shot to 3 feet for a birdie at the par-5 11th. Sorenstam then birdied the par-4 12th but played her second shot in a bunker at the par-4 15th.
Sorenstam hit out to 10 feet but was unable to save par. She then parred her remaining holes to secure a share of the lead heading into the weekend.
'I'm very happy with how I'm playing,' said Sorenstam. 'You're not always going to get good bounces and not always going to make every putt. It's 72 holes. It's a long ways to go.'
Amateur sensation Michelle Wie had a strong start with back-to-back birdies from the second. She struggled to a bogey at the fourth, however, and dropped back to 1 under with a double bogey at the seventh.
The 15-year-old came back with a birdie at the ninth but found trouble again with a bogey at the 14th. Wie countered with a birdie at the 15th but double bogeyed the 16th for a 74.
Wie was joined by Juli Inkster, Laura Davies, Natalie Gulbis and Laura Diaz at even-par 144.
Jones' career on the LPGA Tour is winding down and the 45-year-old, a 13-time winner, is still in search of her first major championship.
'I've fared well in a lot of majors, especially this one. I've done really well here,' said Jones. 'I'm going to do my best to get my first.'
She picked up an early birdie at the par-5 second but found trouble with a bogey at the fifth. Jones then hit her second shot to 5 feet for a birdie at the par-4 seventh.
Jones landed her third shot within 6 feet for a birdie at the 11th to grab a share of the lead. She fell off the pace with a bogey at the par-4 15th but closed with a birdie at last to join Sorenstam atop the leaderboard.
Kim, who is trying to win for the first time since 2002, parred each of her first 16 holes before she birdied the par-3 17th. Kim then parred the closing hole for a round of 71.
'I didn't make a lot of putts, but I'm still happy with my score and I'm happy with my play,' said Kim.
Park was forced to withdraw from last week's Safeway International with a back problem but she gutted it out on Thursday to finish within four of the leaders. On Friday, Park ran off three birdies and a bogey over her first nine holes to make the turn at 1 under.
The 26-year-old then birdied the 11th and rolled in a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 16th.
'My back felt better today,' said Park. 'I'm just glad that I'm out here playing, not sitting on my couch watching it wishing I was out here.'
Rankin mixed six birdies with two bogeys to join Park two shots behind the leaders.
Cristie Kerr carded a 70 to finish alone in sixth place at 2-under-par 142. Carin Koch, Dorothy Delasin, Liselotte Neumann, Sherri Steinhauer, Wendy Doolan, Brandie Burton and amateur Morgan Pressel were one shot further back at 1-under-par 143.
The 36-hole cut came at 9-over-par 153 and 75 players are safe for the weekend.
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