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Annika ready for new challenge



Published: Thu, June 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Swedish star will open the inaugural HSBC World Match Play Championship.

GLADSTONE, N.J. (AP) -- Annika Sorenstam is ready for a new challenge after her disappointing finish in the U.S. Women's Open.

Her Grand Slam bid derailed last week at Cherry Hills, the Swedish star will open the inaugural HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship today against former Solheim Cup teammate Joanne Morley.

"Match play is very, very different than stroke play," Sorenstam said Wednesday. "I think it's fun to have a different format. It's a little bit more drama because anything can happen and every hole is a different match."

Last week in Colorado, she finished over par in a 72-hole event for the first time in four years, tying for 23rd at 12 over -- nine strokes behind winner Birdie Kim.

"I've analyzed last week quite a bit trying to figure out what happened and pretty much what really didn't happen," Sorenstam said. "I just came to the conclusion that I tried, but things just didn't add up. I was pretty happy with the way I hit the ball and pretty happy the way I was putting. I just wasn't happy with where I ended up."

Strong season

Sorenstam has six victories -- including major wins in the Nabisco and LPGA Championship -- in nine starts this year to push her LPGA Tour total to 62.

She will have to win six matches -- four on the final two days -- on Hamilton Farm's hilly, water-logged Highlands Course to take the $500,000 winner's check.

"Obviously, endurance is going to play a role, there's no doubt about it," Sorenstam said. "It's a hilly course and you've got to be in good shape, especially if the temperatures are up there. If we get the humidity, it could be quite tough. Having said that, I'm glad that I've been working out the last few years."

The Hall of Famer played her pro-am round Wednesday morning before heavy rain drenched the already soggy course 45 miles west of New York City.

"Today, I was playing very aggressive," Sorenstam said. "The fairways are quite wide and it's also very wet. You don't get a lot of roll. You hit it somewhere and know it's going to stop there."

Teammates

Sorenstam and Morley, a 38-year-old English player who won the European tour's German Open in 1996 and 2000, had lunch together Wednesday.

They were teammates in Europe's loss to the United States in the 1996 Solheim Cup in Wales.

"I'm looking forward to playing against her," Sorenstam said.

Cristie Kerr, second behind Sorenstam among the 60 qualifiers from the money list in the 64-player field, will face Lindsey Wright, while third-seeded Lorena Ochoa will open against Laurie Rinker, and No. 4 Paula Creamer will play Maria Hjorth.

"I live part-time in Manhattan, so I'm very familiar with the area," Kerr said.

"Being from Miami, I love hot and humid weather, so I feel right at home here. ... I'm staying at a really nice house that a friend of mine lent me. So instead of being in a hotel, it's a little bit more of a homey feel."

Kerr, the Michelob Ultra Open winner early last month, tied for 10th last week for her only top-10 finish in her last four events. She had six top-three finishes in her first eight tournaments of the year.

"I've played well, but things haven't quite come together," Kerr said.

"I'm a little disappointed with the way I've played the last month and half, but that's golf."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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