Sorenstam, Pressel sputter in first round


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) – Annika Sorenstam’s start toward the Grand Slam isn’t going anywhere.

Sorenstam sputtered again in the first LPGA Tour major of the year, twice three-putting for bogey on her way to a par-72 Friday that left her well behind Lorena Ochoa in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

No one else put much of a dent in Ochoa’s lead, either.

Morgan Pressel, the 17-year-old rookie, played her final six holes in 5 over par and wound up with a 76. For the second straight day, Pressel hit out of the sand and into the water, this time sculling a bunker shot on the par-3 14th over the green into a pond, leading to triple bogey.

Paula Creamer was held back by the high rough, as she struggled off the tee until turning her fortunes around with an unlikely par save on her eighth hole. She also got a good kick out of the trees on her closing hole, the par-5 ninth, to escape with par and a 71 that made her the clubhouse leader at 4-under 140.

“We need some help,” Creamer said, looking toward the trees to gauge the wind.

Ochoa and 16-year-old Michelle Wie were among the late starters. Ochoa opened with a 10-under 62 at Mission Hills, tying a major championship record and building a four-shot lead over Wie. The 24-year-old Mexican already was 1 under for her round through six holes, stretching her lead to 10 shots over Sorenstam.

Sorenstam won last year by eight shots. She also won the LPGA Championship in June by three shots over Wie, getting halfway to the Grand Slam until her bid was derailed at the U.S. Women’s Open.

The Grand Slam was her main goal this year, but it starts with getting to first base. She was at 1-under 143 through two rounds on the Dinah Shore course.

Sorenstam was frustrated throughout an overcast morning, unable to get the ball close enough for a birdie chance, and missing the few opportunities she had. She nearly reached the par-5 11th hole, her second of the day, but chipped too strong and missed the 6-foot birdie.

She three-putted for bogey on Nos. 17 and No. 7, and took another bogey on the par-3 eighth when her tee shot bounced hard off the firm greens and rolled into the rough.

“Today, the putter let me down a few times,” she said. “I’m playing good enough, but it’s got to happen. I want to have a score that reflects how I’m playing.”

Asked what score that would be, Sorenstam said a 66 or a 67.

But even that might not be enough, depending on Ochoa, who took advantage of calm morning conditions Thursday and found similar conditions when she teed off Friday afternoon. Stacy Prammanasudh shot 73 and was tied with Creamer at 140.

Pressel, who shot 41 on the back nine, was at 145.

AP-ES-03-31-06 1627EST