Originally created 05/14/05

Sorenstam running away with Chick-fil-A

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. - So much for Annika Sorenstam's slump.

One week after failing to make LPGA Tour history with her sixth straight win, Sorenstam is running away from a strong field at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.

The world's No. 1 player shot a dazzling 8-under 64 during Friday's second round at Eagles Landing Country Club, giving her a six-stroke lead midway through the tournament.

It's the biggest 36-hole lead in a four-round event since Sorenstam's 59 at the 2001 Standard Register Ping in Arizona provided an eight-stroke cushion. She held on for a two-shot win over Se Ri Pak.

So far, there's no indication that anyone can get that close to Sorenstam in this event. Her driver is overwhelming the dried-out course with booming shots off the tee. Her irons are struck with the precision of a radar honing in on its target. Her putts are firm and true.

Sorenstam has yet to make a bogey, leaving everyone else in the field that includes 92 of the top 100 money-winners from 2004 in a battle for second place.

"It's just two days," the super Swede said, as if trying to drum up a little drama for the weekend. "We have two more to go. It can easily swing the other way around."

Not likely. First-round leader Laura Davies faded from contention with a 76, leaving her 11 strokes behind Sorenstam. Karie Webb, the last player other than Sorenstam to be ranked No. 1 in the world, struggled to a 74 that put her 10 shots behind. Cristie Kerr, who ended Sorenstam's winning streak last week at Kingsmill, also was 10 strokes back after a 73.

Heather Bowie shot 69 and was still six shots off Sorenstam's 131 pace.

"Six shots is a lot to make up on anyone," Bowie said. "When you're that far back, there's not anything you can do about it. She could very well go out there tomorrow and shoot 64 again."

Oh yeah, Sorenstam also extended her streak of making the cut to 48 tournaments in a row on the same day that Tiger Wood's record PGA Tour streak of 142 consecutive cuts came to an end at the Byron Nelson Championship.

Sorenstam shot 30 on the back nine, closing with a 5-footer for eagle at the par-5 18th hole.

"A great finish to a great day," she said.

Only nine players faced less than a double-figure deficit heading to the weekend. Lorie Kane was at 138, alone in third but seven strokes behind. Lorena Ochoa and Brittany Lincicome were each another stroke back, with five others tied for sixth at 4 under.

All are well positioned to contend for the runner-up prize.

"I haven't had a six-shot lead since I was in college," Bowie said. "It's almost like you're playing your own tournament. It's just you and the course."

Sorenstam's 13-under score was the lowest in tournament history through the first two rounds. Liselotte Neumann (1998) and Juli Inkster (2002) shared the previous mark of 12 under.

Sorenstam birdied both par-5s on the front nine, taking advantage of her prodigious length off the tee, and everything was working after she made the turn.

She got it started with a 275-yard drive at the 10th, leaving a sand wedge to the green. She put it 6 feet away and rolled in the birdie putt.

At the 12th, Sorenstam dropped a 9-iron just 3 feet from the hole and then had to stand around for about 10 minutes while playing partners Carin Koch and Silvia Cavalleri - who both missed the green with their approaches - took six shots between them to get down for bogeys.

Finally, Sorenstam stepped up to her ball and tapped in a birdie.

The 515-yard 13th was no match for Sorenstam, who came up just short of the green with her second shot, chipped up to about 6 inches and tapped in again for birdie. She had another sand wedge to the green at 14, setting up an 8-foot putt and her sixth birdie of the day.

Closing with a flourish on the 18th - a short par 5 at 466 yards - Sorenstam's majestic drive was followed by a 7-iron that coasted to a stop just 5 feet from the flag. Naturally, she rolled in the putt, giving a slight fist pump that was about the only emotion she showed all day.

Even when Sorenstam hit a poor shot - and there weren't many - she quickly recovered. She missed the green on both par-3s on the back side, but managed to get up-and-down each time.

At No. 11, a delicate bump-and-run from a sloping runoff to the right of the green left her with a short par putt. Sorenstam found herself between clubs at the 16th, switching up twice before going with a 7-iron that dropped in a front bunker. But she blasted out to 9 feet and sank that putt.

Sorenstam didn't use her putter much, taking only 23 strokes on the greens.

"Obviously, I'm very, very pleased," she said. "I thought I played very good today, especially on the back nine. I did make a few good par saves, but other than that I played very solid. I had a lot of chances, and to finish with an eagle is obviously a nice feeling."

As Sorenstam walked into the media tent after the round, tournament officials gave her a round of applause - a tribute usually reserved for Sunday's winner.

Then again, the way Sorenstam is playing, it feels like this tournament is already over.

Divots: Young Jo (illness), Danielle Ammaccapane (illness), Gloria Park (tendinitis in her wrist) and Soo Young Moon (no reason given) withdrew from the tournament.... Tournament host Nancy Lopez shot 81 and missed the cut for the fourth year in a row.... Defending champion Jennifer Rosales, only two shots off the lead after the first day, struggled to a 76 and was 13 strokes behind Sorenstam.


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