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Sorenstam Shares Lead With Saiki at PING

Annika Sorenstam liked her position on the leaderboard a lot more than her game in the second round of the Ping Banner Health.
Sorenstam, coming off victories in her first two events of the year, shot a 2-under 70 in cold conditions Friday for a share of the lead with Kim Saiki.

Sorenstam had three birdies and one bogey during a second-round 70 on Friday. Sorenstam won last year with LPGA Tour-record scores of 59 in the second round and 27-under 261 for four rounds. She made two late birdies this time for a 36-hole score of 137 and at least a share of the lead in Phoenix for the fifth consecutive round.
'I'm content with my score, not really with my game,' Sorenstam said. 'I think I drove the ball well. I didn't miss the fairway, but I missed some greens with my irons, which ... I was quite surprised. And I worked on my swing a lot. I couldn't really find the rhythm out there.'
Saiki thrived in the same conditions, firing a 67.
'I feel great,' said Saiki, who went seven months between tournaments after developing medical problems. 'I haven't competed for quite a while.'
Wind was the problem in the first round. In the second, early starters had to contend with unseasonable cold. The start was delayed 20 minutes by frost on the greens, and four players were stranded on the Moon Valley Country Club course by darkness.
A threesome including Jackie Gallagher-Smith, one of five first-round leaders, had two holes to make up Saturday morning before the cut.
Akiko Fukushima was alone at 138 after a 70 that included three straight birdies from Nos. 14-16.
'I had really good concentration today. I didn't worry about results,' she said.
Cristie Kerr and Rachel Teske were two shots back after 69s. Emilee Klein and Kelly Robbins, two other first-day leaders, each carded a 73 to finish at 140.
Karrie Webb, who won the Australian Open on March 3 in her last tournament, was on the cut line at 4-over 148, positioned to make her 48th consecutive cut since Sept. 25, 1999. She improved on Thursday's 77 with a 71.
But Nancy Lopez (149), 1998 Phoenix champion Liselotte Neumann (149), 2000 winner Charlotta Sorenstam (151) and Laura Davies (157) all were getting the weekend off.
Davies, who won four straight titles in Phoenix (1994-97), left herself little room to recover after an opening 81.
Saiki, a non-winner in nine full seasons, took medical leave at the end of July to cure a viral inner-ear infection, spent extra time off the tour to allow ankle and shoulder injuries to heal and didn't get back until the season-opener in Hawaii two weeks ago.
Despite feeling that her game had improved under the tutelage of new teacher Greg Labell, Saiki missed the cut there -- her 13th second-round departure in 16 events since 2000.
'I think it was just because I took such a long break,' she said. 'Quite honestly, I didn't think I would be progressing this quickly.'
She was in rare form this time, coming within one stroke of her career-best round with eight birdies to compensate for bogeys on Nos. 6, 9 and 15.
It took her two holes to respond to the first bogey, but she birdied immediately after each of the next two, reaching 6-under at the 16th hole and sinking one of four birdie putts of more than 12 feet on No. 17.
Sorenstam, who started later, was bothered more by the cold and had a simpler scorecard -- a bogey on the 12th hole after a back-nine start, followed by birdies on the 17th, sixth and eighth.
She saved par at the finish, getting a 55-foot putt from the fringe to stop within four feet of the hole, then glanced at the leaderboard where Saiki's score stood out.
'I'm a leaderboard watcher,' Sorenstam said. 'I mean, I know where I was standing. I try to make birdies on every hole, even if I'm five ahead or five behind. I felt more in the groove on the back nine, kind of slowed down my tempo a little bit, got a little warmer.'
Full-field scores from the PING Banner Health