Sun, Jul 03, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Sorenstam struggles to beat Barrett

AP , GLADSTONE, NEW JERSEY

Annika Sorenstam survived a scare in the second round of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship on Friday, sinking a 30-foot birdie on the 21st hole to beat 32nd-seeded Tina Barrett.

Coming off a tie for 23rd-place last week in the US Women's Open, Sorenstam overcame three two-hole deficits before taking her first lead with a conceded par on the par-3 17th. The Swede needed only to halve the par-4 18th to win, but bogeyed the hole -- missing an 8-foot par try -- to send the match back to No. 1.

"I had a lot of putts on the edges again," said Sorenstam, who also struggled Thursday on Hamilton Farm's rain-softened greens in her 2-and-1 victory over Joanne Morley. "It wasn't until that last putt, that I really had one go in."

Barrett, winless since taking the 1989 Ocean State Open in her first season on the US LPGA Tour, made pressure putts to extend the match on the first two extra holes -- an 8-footer for par on the par-4 first and an 18-footer for birdie with Sorenstam only centimeters from the cup in three on the par-5 second. On the par-3 third, Barrett missed a 12-foot birdie try after Sorenstam holed her long birdie putt.

While Sorenstam avoided an upset, second-seeded Cristie Kerr and No. 4 Paula Creamer were eliminated. The top-seeded Sorenstam and No. 8 Candie Kung -- both in the upper bracket -- are the only players seeded 12 or higher to survive the first two rounds, and No. 14 Wendy Ward is the only one in the top 29 left in the lower bracket.

Sorenstam advanced to face 48th-seeded Rachel Hetherington, a 5-and-4 winner over No. 16 Kim Mi-hyun.

Kerr and Creamer were eliminated a day after No. 3 Lorena Ochoa, No. 5 Natalie Gulbis and sixth-seeded Kim tumbled out.

Chris Couch shot a 4-under 67 Friday and claimed the second-round lead, while Tiger Woods shot a 66 to pull with six strokes.

Couch, who earned a spot here by winning the Nationwide Tour's LaSalle Bank Open last month, played his front nine in even par, birdied Nos. 10 and 11, the 15th and 17th in a bogey-free round. He completed 36 holes in 9-under 133, one stroke ahead of Tim Herron (66), Jim Furyk (70) and Duffy Waldorf (65).

Ben Curtis, who shared the first-round lead with Furyk and Todd Fischer, shot an even-par 71 and is two strokes off the lead. Fischer (72) is at 136 with Steve Flesch.

"It's still a long tournament," Couch said. "I'm trying not to think too far ahead. I'm going to take it shot by shot and keep trying to have some fun."

Starting on the back nine, Herron had an inconsistent day, birdieing Nos. 10 and 11 before taking consecutive bogeys and then coming back with three straight birdies.

Woods shot an opening 73 Thursday but moved to 3-under 139.

"Hopefully they won't run away from me, and I can go ahead and play a good round tomorrow and get myself back in it," Woods said.

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