Date: August 02, 2008

No early farewell for Sorenstam

Annika Sorenstam looks unlikely to end her major golf career with a victory at Sunningdale this weekend – but at least she did not have to make her farewell wave on Friday. The 37-year-old Swedish star, who goes into retirement at the end of this season, was in severe danger of an early exit from the Ricoh Women&aposs British Open after a hat-trick of bogeys early in her second round left her down in 88th place. Sorenstam battled back with three birdies in a row, but when a bogey on the 17th gave her a second successive 72 she had to wait two hours before discovering her level-par total was enough to survive. Her hopes of going out of the sport with an 11th major to her name, however, are hanging by a thread. In a sign of how much the women&aposs game has taken on an Asian flavour, leading in the clubhouse on 10 under par were Japan&aposs Yuri Fudoh and Korean Ji-Yai Shin. They both added 68s to opening rounds of 66, while American Juli Inkster, at 48 trying to become the oldest winner of a women&aposs major, slipped from one ahead to one behind with a 70. Holder and world number one Lorena Ochoa remains a menacing threat to them all on seven under following a 68, but the leading home player Karen Stupples, winner of the title on the same course in 2004, is six back after two closing bogeys gave her a 73. Karrie Webb is the best placed Australian, sitting at three-under at the halfway mark to be seven shots off the pace. Rachel Hetherington and Katherine Hull are the only two other Aussies below par, they are both a further stroke behind Webb at two-under. “You don&apost want to know what I was thinking on the ninth tee,” said Sorenstam. “But the bottom line is that I never give up. “I talk to myself, sometimes kindly and sometimes not so kindly. I have pride and I know what I am capable of. “I know I am slipping away, but in my head I&aposm as good as I&aposve ever been. For me it&aposs more about keeping on fighting, all or nothing through thick or thin.” Sorenstam&aposs form has dipped since she made her announcement in May – something she says she has “analysed to death”. Three times a winner at the start of the season, she added: “I&aposm very frustrated because I feel like I&aposm playing good enough, but I&aposm throwing away shots. “Since I made my announcement I&aposve not been able to get anything going. I don&apost know what it is – you&aposd think I&aposd be relieved having shared my thoughts with everybody.” Fudoh, whose 67-year-old British caddie Pete Coleman helped Bernhard Langer to two Masters titles, has won more than one thousand million yen – nearly $10million – in her career, while Shin is a prolific winner in her home country as well. In the calmer morning conditions, American Laura Diaz matched a women&aposs golf record with eagles on the first, 10th (both par fives) and 322-yard 11th, where she pitched in for a two. It was a good job fellow Solheim Cup player Dottie Pepper, now a television commentator, was not around to ask her about it afterwards. “I don&apost think I will ever in my life do an interview with her,” said Diaz. “Dottie was a family member and now I don&apost even see her as a friend.” Diaz and partner Sherri Steinhauer were labelled “choking freaking dogs” by Pepper in a comment picked up by an on-air microphone during last year&aposs cup match in Sweden as they lost a two-up lead with three to play. “It was a really low blow and highly disappointing,” added the New Yorker, whose brother Ron Philo used to go out with Pepper. “As a golfer you appreciate golf and what we are doing out here. It really affected us in our hearts – Sherri and I thought it was ridiculous really.” Asked if she had tackled Pepper about it, she added: “No. But do you want me to? It will be my pleasure.” British Open Round 2 -10: Yuri Fudoh 66 68, Ji-Yai Shin 66 68 -9: Juli Inkster 65 70 -8: Bo Bae Song 68 68, Cristie Kerr 71 65 -7: Natalie Gulbis 69 68, Ai Miyazato 68 69, Lorena Ochoa 69 68 -6: Laura Diaz 66 72, Momoko Ueda 66 72, Sophie Gustafson 69 69, Eun-Hee Ji 68 70 -5: Jane Park 69 70, In-Kyung Kim 71 68, Yani Tseng 70 69, Ji Young Oh 66 73, Candie Kung 72 67, Seon Hwa Lee 71 68 Also: -3: Karrie Webb (Australia) 72 69 -2: Rachel Hetherington (Australia) 70 72, Katherine Hull (Australia) 69 73 +1: Joanne Mills (Australia) 70 73 +4: Nikki Garrett (Australia) 72 76, Lindsey Wright (Australia) 74 74 +12: Leah Hart (Australia) 79 77