Erica Blasberg, still lookingfor her first win on the LPGA Tour, shares the lead with Annika Sorenstam at 7-under.
Annika tied at top headed to last round
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With a huge gallery in tow, former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam didn't disappoint her supporters, shooting a 5-under 67 yesterday to share the second-round lead of the SBS Open with little-known Erica Blasberg at 7-under 137.
Through second round
There are 36 golfers in red numbers after the first two rounds of the LPGA Tour's first full-field event of 2008 with 23 golfers within five shots of the lead. Angela Park's 7-under 65 was the best round of the day with three golfers shooting 67s.
Sorenstam and Blasberg are only one shot removed from four golfers tied for third at 6-under 138, including 2007 U.S. Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr. Kerr has two top-10 finishes here, including a tie for second in 2005 with Michelle Wie.
It's the first time Sorenstam has played the Arnold Palmer-designed course at Turtle Bay, but already she says she likes the par-72 design.
"I feel very welcome here," Sorenstam said. "A lot of the volunteers, a lot of the fans and I would say the tournament staff as well said welcome and good to see you here. It makes you feel good. It does. The hospitality here in Hawaii has always been fabulous. That's not the reason we haven't been here. It's only because of scheduling."
Annika Sorenstam pumped her fist after making a birdie putt on No. 18 yesterday for a share of the lead in the SBS Open.
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Annika Sorenstam exited the scoring tent and was greeted by a throng of adoring fans, who extended hats, programs and even a cape for her to sign.
She had just finished shooting herself to the top of the leaderboard with a 5-under 67 and was glad to spend some time with a gallery of 500 or so, who had come to see her and playing partner Cristie Kerr go low during a calm second round at the $1.1 million SBS Open.
Sorenstam only signs her first name -- for obvious reasons -- on the bill of a cap, the back of a program, or the side of the golf ball. But as good as the former No. 1 player in the world is, most folks know her on a first-name basis anyway.
"I tried very hard today," Sorenstam said in that childlike voice of hers. "I was very patient. I got off to a little so-so start. I made a double on the par-3 (fourth) and I felt I was playing well. I didn't want to leave any shots out there.
"I just kept hanging in there. The wind picked up and it got a little tougher. But it's just a thing where I hit some greens and putts on the back nine. I'm very pleased with the strong finish. It's always fun to see and fun to do."
Sorenstam caught fellow University of Arizona alumna Erica Blasberg with a birdie at the last. Blasberg, who was playing in the threesome behind Sorenstam, Kerr and Lindsey Wright, parred the closing hole to shoot a 4-under 68. The nonexempt player finds herself paired in the final group today with a two-day total of 7-under 137.
But they are not alone.
Another four golfers are only one shot back, including 2007 U.S. Women's Open champion Kerr. Kerr playing with Sorenstam was a real treat for the fans, who followed this group from the first through the last. Kerr was 1 over for her round after 10 holes, but came back strong by going 4 under through her final eight holes to shoot a 3-under 69 to sit at 6-under 138.
"The greens were a tiny bit slower today, but I adjusted on the back nine," Kerr said. "I bogeyed 10 and was 1 over through 10 holes and was able to shoot 3 under, so I was pretty pleased with my comeback."
Joining her in a tie for second were veteran Laura Diaz (68), the latest Japanese sensation Momoko Ueda (68) and Jane Park (68). Wright (70) is alone in seventh at 5-under 139, with another seven golfers tied for eighth at 4-under 140, including Angela Park, who had the best round of the year at 7-under 65.
"I putted really well," Park said, who opened with a 75 on Thursday. "I had eight birdies and the closest one was 8 feet. The longest was maybe, 35 feet. I'm pleased with how I played."
Sorenstam shared a similar sentiment about her own game. She's looking for her first victory on the LPGA Tour since the U.S. Women's Open in 2006. Take away the two double bogeys she had on Thursday and yesterday, and she'd be four shots clear of the field. She made up for it with five birdies on her final seven holes.
"It's been a while (since she had a stretch like that)," Sorenstam said. "I did have a few good rounds last year. If you look at the stats, I did finish top 10, I believe, in every tournament after the British Open. So I don't want to say that I didn't play well, but it wasn't as consistent as I would like it to be.
"Today, I'm in control of my game. I feel like I'm the boss out there and I'm hitting it where I wanted to hit it. That's been a while. It's tough to say how many months, but I've had stretches where I felt that. Now, it's consistent 18 holes and another round and another round and that's really what I'm looking for."
Fourth-year pro Blasberg is looking forward to playing with Sorenstam. She has never held or shared a lead in three years on tour and isn't fully exempt because she didn't want to go through the stress of Q-school.
But if she's intimidated by playing with Sorenstam, she didn't act like it. The 23-year-old's best finish is a tie for 18th, and her 68 yesterday equaled her best round on tour last year. Sorenstam, on the other hand, is going for her 70th win.
"I don't think that fazes me so much -- just thinking about going out there and playing golf," Blasberg said. "I think some of those things can get in your head -- you're playing with the world's greatest player, you've got the last group -- but I'm just going to go out there and play golf and not really think too much about what's going on around me."