NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (AP) – Annika Sorenstam had two unexpected days off last weekend.

Instead of checking leaderboards and reading greens at the Michelob Ultra Open, she was home spending time with friends in Orlando, Fla., after missing the cut in an LPGA Tour event for the first time since 2002.

“It wasn’t really something I enjoyed. I mean, I’m glad I went home. It was the second-best thing I could have done, get to go home instead of play the weekend,” Sorenstam said Wednesday after playing in the pro-am for this week’s Sybase Classic at Wykagyl Country Club. “It happens. It’s golf. I’m just lucky it hasn’t happened to me too often, and I hope it doesn’t happen again. It got my attention and I’m back.”

Sorenstam has dominated the LPGA Tour for years. Her 67 career victories are third on the all-time list and she has led the tour in wins each of the last five years.

Last week was the first time in 69 events since the 2002 Women’s British Open she failed to make the cut. It was only the second time in 143 events she failed to make the cut, dating to June 1999, and the first time in 198 non-major events.

The last time she missed the cut in a non-major was the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in July 1994. She also missed the cut in the PGA Tour’s 2003 Colonial.

“I’m not worried about my game. I feel like I’m playing really good golf, obviously,” said Sorenstam, who has won four of her last 10 starts, including the MasterCard Classic in Mexico in March. “I’m just waiting to come out with a big bang. It should be a fun part of the season, if you know what I mean.”

The $1.3 million Sybase Classic, with a first prize of $195,000, starts a six-week stretch that includes two majors – the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open.

The last time Sorenstam missed a cut she won the next three tournaments and 27 of her next 65 starts.

“I know what I’m capable of. I got one win this year, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself,” said the 35-year-old, who is playing in this event for the first time since 2002. She won the Sybase in 1998 and 2000.

“Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t,” she said. “At the moment, my golf is not going my way, but outside the golf course, everything else is going my way. I’m not going to trade anything for it. I’m just going to wait, be patient and everything will turn around.”

Paula Creamer’s young career turned around at this tournament last year when she holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to become the youngest winner of a multiround LPGA event. She took the trophy to her high school graduation four days later, and went on to win another tournament in taking her place as one of the rising stars on tour.

“This is my first chance to repeat and it’s a totally different feeling,” said Creamer, who will turn 20 in August. “I feel very relaxed, like this is my home type of thing.”

Creamer won with a 6-under 278 last year, closing with a 70 for a one-stroke victory over Jeong Jang and Gloria Park.

“Everything has happened so fast, but I’m excited things have fallen into place,” Creamer said.

Eight of the tour’s 10 leading money-winners and eight former champions are in the field.

Wykagyl, a traditional Northeast golf course, hasn’t undergone major changes in recent years but the number of trees on the par-71, 6,227-yard course has decreased.

“They have taken a lot of trees away, but it puts a big premium on ball-striking with small greens and tough par-3s,” Sorenstam said. “The greens are in great shape. I like old-style golf courses. I’m happy to be back here.”

Divots: The other former champions in the field are Juli Inkster (1992), Beth Daniel (1994), Michele Redman (1997), Sherri Steinhauer (1999, 2004), Park (2002), Hee-Won Han (2003). … The official charity of the tournament is The Greater New York City Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. … Lorena Ochoa, second on the money list to Karrie Webb, has finished second in the last three tour events and she had a second and a first in the two she played before that. … Webb and No. 4 Cristie Kerr are the only members of the top 10 not in the field. … The tournament will be on ESPN2 all four days.

AP-ES-05-17-06 1517EDT