Golf Roundup: Sorenstam’s Goodbye Tour off to a good start
The golf roundup …
CLIFTON, N.J. ó The Annika Sorenstam goodbye tour got off to a great start.
Two days after announcing this would be her final season on the LPGA Tour, Sorenstam shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Sybase Classic. Two-time defending champion Lorena Ochoa was a stroke back.
The 37-year-old Hall of Famer came into the $2 million tournament off a dominating seven-stroke victory in the Michelob Ultra Open last weekend, and she was just as good getting around the Upper Montclair Country Club course in the shadow of New York City. The Swede had five birdies in a bogey-free round.
“I’m just very happy the way I’m playing,” said Sorenstam, who has three victories this year after failing to win in an injury-marred 2007 season. “I worked really hard this winter and it’s all coming together. My swing fells really good and my putting feels really good. This is the way I enjoy the game. It’s fairways and greens.”
Song-Hee Kim, a second-year player from South Korea who has two top-10 finishes this year, also was at 67 along with Australia’s Rachel Hetherington.
The leaderboard was crowded after the first day of the 72-hole event. Ochoa, a five-time winner this year, was at 68 along with Pat Hurst, Catriona Matthew, Brittany Lang, Teresa Lu and Carolina Llano.
U.S. Women’s Open champion Cristie Kerr was in another big group at 69.
But the day and, really the week, has belonged to Sorenstam, seeking her third straight victory. She won the Stanford International Pro-Am on April 27 in a playoff with Paula Creamer, then took a week off before winning last week at Kingsmill.
After posting her 72nd career win Sunday, she seemed to take the weight of a major decision off her shoulders Tuesday by announcing that this would be her final season. She then threw out the first ball at a New York Mets’ game later that night and read the Top 10 list on David Letterman’s show.
With a couple of fans urging her not to retire, Sorenstam had a near flawless round in making birdies from the tap-in range to 10 feet.
Ochoa, who always keeps an eye on the scoreboard, noticed.
“Seeing Annika’s name, we’re all used to that,” Ochoa said. “She’s there every week.”
DULUTH, Ga. ó Kenny Perry sloshed through the water-logged fairways, ducking under an umbrella every chance he got.
He also hit plenty of good shots on a miserable day at the TPC Sugarloaf.
Coming off a final-round meltdown at The Players Championship, Perry endured a steady ó and occasionally driving rain ó to claim a share of the first-round lead with a 6-under 66 at the AT&T Classic. The other leaders ó Jonathan Kaye, Ryan Palmer, Jonathan Byrd and Parker McLachlin ó all teed off in the morning, before a huge weather system engulfed the suburban Atlanta course.
Perry’s bogey-free round was especially impressive in light of the soggy conditions and other hardships. He had to remain on the course during a 31-minute delay when the rain turned so heavy that play had to be halted. Then, when he got to his last hole, surely looking forward to calling it a day, he found a backlog of five groups waiting to tee off.
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