Sun, Mar 12, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Sorenstam and Cavalleri hold lead

AP , HUIXQUILUCAN, MEXICOAP, PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA

Annika Sorenstam of Sweden tees off on the fifth hole during the first day of the MasterCard Classic in Huixquilucan, Mexico, on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Annika Sorenstam shot a 5-under 67 in her first competitive round of the year on Friday to finish tied for the lead with Italy's Silvia Cavalleri in the MasterCard Classic.

The world's top-ranked women's golfer stayed consistent, hitting fairways and reaching greens easily before sinking a 7-foot putt on the par-5 No. 18 for her fifth birdie.

Sorenstam, who sat out the first two tournaments of the season in Hawaii last month, also made her 2005 debut here, winning the 54-hole event outside of Mexico City -- the first US LPGA tour stop south of the border in three decades.

"I felt, I wouldn't say pressure, but I wanted to perform because I've felt like I've had a good practice session the last two weeks and I felt really good about my game," said the 35-year-old Swede, who has 10 titles to defend this year. "I could not have asked for a better day."

Cavalleri began on the back nine and sunk a nearly 40 foot putt for birdie on No. 17 before going uphill to hole out from 15 feet on the third hole. She had seven birdies, offsetting two bogeys, one of which saw her miss a 4-foot putt.

"I putted very well. It was just a steady round apart from two bogeys in the last five holes," said the 33-year-old, who is seeking her first tour win.

Hundreds of fans turned out to cheer Lorena Ochoa, the first Mexican to win on the LPGA tour. The 24-year-old Guadalajara native is one of only two players to finish in the top five at the season's first two LPGA tournaments.

Ochoa had three bogeys and just one birdie to finish with a 2-over 74 Friday, appearing ill-at-ease with all eyes on her.

"The truth is I hit the ball well and I'm a little frustrated I didn't make more birdies," Ochoa said. "The key was I didn't make a lot of putts because I wasn't close to the hole. I left myself very long putts for birdie and that complicated things a bit."

David Toms shot his second straight 67 and moved alone atop the leaderboard by one stroke at the midpoint of the tournament, staying just ahead of Billy Mayfair.

Mayfair shot a bogey-free round of 67 and finished alone in second place after another day of fierce winds and fast greens.

"Yeah, we've had some high winds and there's been some tough scores out there and the conditions are tough," Mayfair said.

Mayfair finished with four birdies in his final five holes, taking advantage of the less-perilous front side of the course.

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