Swede in lead; no, not Annika

Published September 1, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Annika Sorenstam got off to a good start in the opening round of the State Farm Classic. Another Swede had an even better finish.

Sorenstam was five strokes behind Maria Hjorth, who shot 7-under 65 Thursday for a one-shot lead over Dina Ammaccapane, Nina Reis and Brittany Lang.

Lorena Ochoa was at 5 under, and 2004 winner Cristie Kerr was another shot back.

Three weeks after a one-stroke win on her home course at the TPC of Scandinavia, Sorenstam met Ochoa again. They were grouped with Kerr this time.

Sorenstam and Ochoa were 3 under at the turn Thursday. A birdie on 14 put Sorenstam at 4 under, but things unraveled at the end.

Her 6-iron shot on 16 settled near the edge of the water, and she chipped and two-putted.

On 18, she hit a bunker near the front of the green, then missed a short putt for par.

Like Sorenstam, Ochoa birdied the first hole, sinking a 15-foot putt.

She was 3 under after converting a 20-foot putt for birdie on No. 4 and knocking in an 8-footer on the fifth. She birdied the par-4 10th and bogeyed the 13th. But while Sorenstam struggled on 16 and 18, Ochoa birdied them.

Hjorth, seeking her third win and first since 1999, started from the 10th tee and had seven birdies - five on her back nine. She birdied Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 and then 9.

Among the locals, Jennifer Gleason of Clearwater shot 71 and tied for 41st, Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 72 (tied 67th), Kelly Lagedorst of Brooksville shot 73 (tied 85th) and Beth Baur of Tampa shot 77 (tied 138th).

MORE LPGA: The Wendy's Championship for Children in Dublin, Ohio, is ending after an eight-year run because of a disagreement between the title sponsor and the tour over a date for next year.

"We were not offered an acceptable 2007 tournament date," Wendy's interim CEO Kerrii Anderson said.

The Wendy's Championship for Children was played last week at Tartan Field Golf Club, with Ochoa winning by three strokes.

The LPGA discussed multiple dates with HNS Sports Group, which staged the tournament, commissioner Carolyn Bivens said. She said the LPGA is disappointed an agreement was not reached. Wendy's, based in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, also sponsors the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge.

EUROPEAN PGA: David Howell finished with two birdies and an eagle for 5-under 67, sharing the opening-round lead at the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany.

John Daly, the 2001 winner, withdrew after being hospitalized with a gastrointestinal virus.

Howell, a member of the European Ryder Cup team, is tied with Gary Evans, Martin Erlandsson and Garry Houston.

In a slump since winning the BMW Championship in May, Howell played steadily at 1 under through 15 before his finish. He capped it with a 264-yard 3-wood onto the green at the 557-yard ninth and an 8-footer for eagle.

"I can't remember the last eagle I made," Howell said. "But I hit two of the purest shots I've hit for a long time and managed to hole the putt as well."

Eight players were one stroke behind the leaders, and 11 were two shots back.

Colin Montgomerie, Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington each shot 70.

Meantime, Daly, 40, felt ill after arriving in Munich on Tuesday and withdrew from a shootout that day and from Wednesday's pro-am.