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Three (not Sorenstam) share lead
By wire services
Published March 25, 2005
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Annika Sorenstam didn't surprise anyone when she got to 3 under after only four holes of the Nabisco Championship. The only surprise at the end of the day was that she wasn't on top of the leaderboard.
The three players leading after the opening round Thursday didn't have to look far, though, to find the most dominant player in golf. Sorenstam was just a shot back and pretty much where she wanted to be.
"Not a bad start," she said. "I just didn't finish it as well as I'd like to."
Sorenstam played her final 14 holes 1 over for an opening 70 that left her a stroke behind Rosie Jones, Karen Stupples and Mi Hyun Kim.
She was tied with two teenage phenoms, Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel, and eager to get back to work again today.
"This is probably one of the better starts I've had in this tournament," Sorenstam said.
That could be bad news for other players, particularly since Sorenstam has won the last four tournaments she entered and has her sights set on winning all four major championships this year.
The Nabisco is the first of those four, and Sorenstam looked as if she might make it a runaway when she eagled the second hole and birdied No. 4. But the winds picked up and she struggled on the way in, making a final bogey on the 17th to drop out of the lead.
"The wind made it a lot tougher I thought," Sorenstam said. "I thought I putted well, but they just didn't go in. It seems like the greens are a little moody."
Jones, 45, who plans to retire at the end of the season, played patiently like the veteran she is and didn't make a bogey en route to her 3-under 69. Jones, who has 13 wins in a career that began in 1982 but no major victories, played in the morning when the wind was calmer and the course seemed like it was there for the taking. She finished her round with a flurry, hitting a 7-iron to 2 feet on the final hole for a finishing birdie.
"It's kind of amazing that I shot 64 last week and finished tied for fifth and we're still talking about retirement," Jones said. "I do want to retire. I don't want to be out there - it's a lot of hard work and my body is wearing out."
Jones had surgery last year on a herniated disc, had neck problems and didn't win a tournament. She said she is tired of having to do the things necessary to compete with players half her age.
Still, she liked her position almost as much as she liked getting off the course.
"Whenever I get to 18 out here, I'm really glad it's over," Jones said. "This is a really tough golf course and, you know, I'll take the birdies whenever I can get them."
Stupples made five birdies and two bogeys despite playing late in the day when the wind picked up and the temperature started to drop in the desert. She won the last women's major, the British Open, but has only two wins in her pro career.
"I do enjoy the majors," Stupples said. "I like them for the challenge the courses bring. I know that you have to fight for every single shot out there, so it helps me concentrate a little better."
In a tournament that almost always has some young amateurs in the hunt, the first day was no exception.
Pressel, who played in the U.S. Women's Open four years ago as a 12-year-old, made all pars on the front side and two birdies coming in to post her 70 and tie with Wie, who has two top-10 finishes in her first two times here.
Wie, who first played the Nabisco two years ago as a 13-year-old, had the early lead before stumbling with a bogey on the par-3 17th when she hit a 7-iron short and then missed a 5-footer after chipping up.
That was the only bogey for Wie, who said she is becoming better at course management and doesn't always automatically reach for the driver off the tee anymore.
Kim said her low score was unexpected because she was playing with a new driver for the first time and changed putters three times this week.
Defending champion Grace Park, who almost didn't play because of a back injury, shot 73.
EUROPEAN PGA/ASIAN TOUR: Colin Montgomerie, needing a victory to assure himself a spot in the Masters, was five strokes off the lead after shooting 3-under-par 67 in the first round of the Indonesia Open at Jakarta. India's Arjun Atwal and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey shared the top spot. Montgomerie had a frustrating day on the greens, bogeying two par 3s and missing several birdie chances. The Scotsman has not missed a Masters since his Augusta National debut in 1992.