Sorenstam Ties Inkster at ShopRite


GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Annika Sorenstam fired a 6-under 65 on Saturday to join overnight leader Juli Inkster atop the leaderboard at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Inkster, who shot a second-round 67, and Sorenstam are knotted at 10-under-par 132 at the Seaview Resort Bay Course.
Laura Davies established a new course record on Saturday with a 9-under 62. She is alone in third place at minus-9, while Pat Hurst, who carded a 64 on Saturday, has sole possession of fourth at 7-under-par 135. Catriona Matthew posted a 5-under 66 and is in fifth at minus-5.
Sorenstam parred her first two holes, then came up short of the green with her second at the par-5 third. She chipped to tap-in range, then sank a 4-footer at the next for back-to-back birdies.
She parred the next five holes, but found trouble at the 10th. Sorenstam landed her approach 15 feet from the cup, but three-putted for bogey, including a missed 3-footer for par.
'I don't really know what happened,' admitted Sorenstam. 'I told my caddie I hit three good putts. That's the way I'm going to look at it I'm not going to analyze it too much.'
Sorenstam rebounded in a big way on the second nine. She hit a sand-wedge to 8 feet at both the 12th and 13th holes and walked away with birdies. The Swede parred No. 15, but converted a 6-foot birdie putt at 16 and a 5-footer at the last to grab her share of the lead.
Sorenstam has already had a stellar 2005 campaign. She owns four victories, including the season's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Next week is the McDonald's LPGA Championship and the top player in the game wants to be ready. The strength at the top of the leaderboard should help.
'I'm looking forward to it,' said Sorenstam. 'Juli is playing great golf. Laura played a superb round. Anything can happen. A lot of important things can be decided in the next few weeks.'
Inkster, who held a two-shot lead at the start of the second round, found trouble early in round two. Her drive at the second found the right rough and she had to pitch out. Inkster knocked a sand-wedge to 15 feet, but two-putted for a bogey.
That would be the last hiccup for the 44-year-old Hall of Famer. She hit a 9-iron to 18 feet to set up birdie at four, then made it back-to-back birdies with a 12-footer at the fifth. Inkster collected her third birdie in a row with another 12-footer at six.
Inkster played steadily around the turn with pars. At the 13th, Inkster played a sand-wedge to 13 feet and rolled in the birdie try. She reached 10 under par when she ran home a 6-foot birdie putt at 17.
'Even though I didn't score as well, I thought I played well and had a lot of opportunities,' admitted Inkster. 'I'm starting to play a little better and my swing is starting to feel a little better.'
Inkster has not won on tour since 2003 and for her to get back into the winner's circle, she will have to go through the No. 1 player in the sport.
'I feel very comfortable playing with Annika,' said Inkster, who overtook her for the win at the 2002 U.S. Women's Open. 'I'm going to have to play really well to win.'
Natalie Gulbis and Carin Koch both shot rounds of 4-under 67 on Saturday and are tied for sixth place at minus-4.
Defending champion Cristie Kerr fired a 5-under 66 and shares eighth with reigning Women's British Open champion Karen Stupples (67), Joanne Morley (67), Jeong Jang (70) and Mi Hyun Kim (71). The group finished 36 holes at 2-under-par 140.
The 36-hole cut fell at 4-over-par 146 and 77 players advanced to the final round.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - ShopRite LPGA Classic
  • Full Coverage - ShopRite LPGA Classic