Sorenstam trails by two

Posted: Friday, June 24, 2005

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. — No stranger to pressure, Annika Sorenstam had to cope with jangled nerves as she stood on the 10th tee Thursday at the U.S. Women's Open, the snowcapped Rockies and a chance to make history both on the horizon.

She took a deep breath of mile-high air to steady herself, then promptly hit into the rough and made bogey.

It wasn't the best start as she resumed her bid for the Grand Slam. It wasn't a great finish, either, not after taking three putts from just off the ninth green for another bogey.

But she conquered her nerves and broke even with tough Cherry Hills, finishing with an even-par 71 that left her two shots behind Angela Stanford and 19-year-old amateur Brittany Lang when the first round was suspended.

Why the queasy feeling?

''U.S. Open, a lot of people, tough golf course, a lot on my mind,'' Sorenstam said with a smile. ''I put a lot of pressure on myself. I really want to do well here. When you stand on the tee, you know you have to hit fairways. That's double pressure right there. I'm just happy I found the rhythm in the middle.''

Karine Icher of France was at 2 under with four holes left when play was suspended by storms in the area, with 48 players unable to complete their round.

Michelle Wie, the 15-year-old from Hawaii who was second behind Sorenstam at the LPGA Championship, again put herself near the top of the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies on the back nine, starting with a 20-footer on the par-3 12th. She was at 1 under with three holes to play, facing a delicate chip from just off the 16th green.

The scorecard showed an even-par round for Sorenstam, who breezed to victories in the first two majors. But she worked hard to keep it from being worse, salvaging her round with nifty par saves along her back nine. Steeped in concentration, she twice made 6-footers without looking at the hole until she heard the ball rattle around the bottom of the cup.

''Around par is always good at the Open,'' Sorenstam said.

Cherry Hills didn't leave anyone with much chance to relax. Of the 108 players who completed the first round, only six of them broke par.

Lang had a chance to take the outright lead until her approach on the 459-yard 18th hole — which yielded no birdies in the opening round and might not all week — clanged into the grandstand.

Barclays Classic PGA

HARRISON, N.Y. — Jim Furyk birdied the final two holes for a back-nine 30 after three-putting the par-5 ninth for the lone bogey in a 6-under 65 that gave him a three-shot lead after the opening round of the Barclays Classic.

Vijay Singh, the 1993 and 1995 Westchester champion, was tied with Kenny Perry, John Rollins, Ian Leggatt, Brian Bateman and Hidemichi Tanaka at 68.

Sergio Garcia, the 2001 and 2004 winner, opened with a 72, ending his streak of rounds of par or better in the event at 19. He bogeyed the final four holes.

PGA Club Pro Championship

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Mark Mielke and Alan Morin shot 4-under 68s to share the first-round lead in the PGA Club Professional Championship.

Twenty-five golfers managed par or better on the usually tricky Ocean Course. Six players couldn't complete the first round because a 95-minute delay for lightning earlier in the day.

One shot behind the leaders were Gus Ulrich of Pinehurst, N.C., Kelly Maxwell of Louisville, Ky., and Travis Long of Henderson, Nev.

Defending champion Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, struggled to a 5-over 77.

The top 25 finishers earn spots in the PGA Championship, which will be played at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J., in August.

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