WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Annika Sorenstam made a tricky 20-footer for par at the last hole, giving those around the green something to cheer. She waved a couple of times, then walked away – not knowing that her season was about to end.

Sorenstam, the two-time defending champion of the LPGA Tour’s season-ending ADT Championship, missed the cut Friday – for only the sixth time in 250 LPGA starts since 1995 – to fall out of the chase for a record $1 million first prize. She shot even-par 72 and finished two rounds at 2-over, one stroke from a playoff.

“I hit a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in,” Sorenstam said. “Just one of those weeks, really. I tried very, very hard. It’s not because of lack of trying.”

Japan’s Ai Miyazato, the first-round leader, shot 69 Friday and moved to 7-under, two shots ahead of Julieta Granada (69). Natalie Gulbis (70) and Karrie Webb (71) were another shot back at 4-under.

Only 16 women advanced to the third round at Trump International, with the final three spots getting settled in a six-way playoff. Morgan Pressel was the first in that mix to secure her spot in the third round, making birdie on the second hole, and Juli Inkster and Lorena Ochoa followed with birdies on the third extra hole – while Pat Hurst, Brittany Lang and Jee Young Lee all failed to advance.

“It felt like I was in a Saturday afternoon horse race at the club, everybody out there playing and eliminating one at a time,” Inkster said. “It’s just kind of bizarre, the whole thing. But I’ve kind of survived and now I’ve got my work cut out for me tomorrow.”

Unlike most tournaments, where anyone tied on the cut line advances, the ADT format calls for only 16 players to reach the third round, then eight move on to final round – when the scores from the first three days are wiped out and the survivors play for the biggest check in LPGA history.

That gave Friday’s playoff a unique feel.

Pressel punched the air twice with her right hand when her playoff birdie dropped into the cup, something she wouldn’t ordinarily have done when just making a cut.

“It’s more here than just making a cut,” Pressel said. “It’s staying alive. This is a field of great players, so to be in the top 16 is one feat and top eight tomorrow is another.”

The remainder of the third-round field includes Wendy Ward (141); Il Mi Chung, Paula Creamer and Se Ri Pak (142); Diana D’Alessio, Jeong Jang and Mi Hyun Kim (143); and Hee-Won Han and Cristie Kerr (144). Only three shots separate the bottom 11 players on the leaderboard, so there’s bound to be plenty of scoreboard-watching Saturday.

And Sorenstam, surprisingly, won’t be there.

“I didn’t have much going for me today,” Sorenstam said.

She made only three birdies in two days, yet had two great par saves in her final three holes to stay near the cut line. On the par-5 15th, her tee ball sailed into a creek and she took a drop, then punched short of the green before hitting her fourth shot within 4 feet. Then on the par-4 18th, her tee shot went into a bunker, forcing her to play short of the green again – but she made par again.

“I looked at the leaderboard and I wasn’t making any moves,” Sorenstam said. “I was actually falling backwards, and that’s not a good feeling.”

Pressel did plenty of falling backwards too, yet the 18-year-old rookie found a way to rally.

She made double-bogey on the par-3 11th, then bogeyed the par-5 12th – needing five more strokes to complete those two holes than she did in Thursday’s opening round. But a birdie on the par-5 15th got her back on the cut line, and three pars coming in kept her there.

“Relieved,” Pressel said, “is the right word.”

Lang, playing alongside Sorenstam, was in the playoff in large part because of some bad luck she had on the par-4 16th.

Her tee ball got caught high in a palm tree just off the fairway, so she had to take a drop and hit her third from there. Lang got the approach close and saved par, but a birdie there would have gotten her out of the playoff and safely into Saturday’s field.

“I just didn’t get anything to drop,” Lang said.

Hurst and Sorenstam were the only two players among those in the top 10 spots on the season’s money list not to make the round of 16, meaning three – Ochoa, Kerr and Webb – remain alive in the race for that title. Sorenstam also could have won the crown by winning this event for the third straight year.

After her last putt, she waited around for about 90 minutes, having some lunch before learning that her hopes of sneaking into a playoff were gone.

“I gave it all,” Sorenstam said, “and that’s all I can say.”

AP-ES-11-17-06 1819EST


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