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Rosales leads LPGA; Sorenstam, Park trail

SHARE Rosales leads LPGA; Sorenstam, Park trail

WILMINGTON, Del. — Annika Sorenstam got mad and finished with two birdies. Grace Park got a good break and then ended her round with two bogeys. Both wound up chasing Jennifer Rosales, who played a steady hand Thursday with a 5-under 66 in the LPGA Championship.

Rosales, who picked up her first LPGA victory last month in Atlanta, took advantage of the par 5s and never came seriously close to a bogey at difficult DuPont Country Club to take a one-shot lead over Karen Stupples, Gloria Park and Chiharu Yamaguchi.

"I hit a lot of fairways. That was the key," Rosales said. "I missed a lot of putts out there. I kept putting and putting until I made some, and kept going."

It took her to her first 18-hole lead on the LPGA Tour — at a major, no less.

But the 25-year-old Filipino, who won the NCAA title as a freshman at Southern Cal, has been around long enough to know that doesn't mean much, especially with Sorenstam and Park only two shots behind at 68.

Sorenstam birdied two of her first three holes to make her presence felt quickly on a steamy day at DuPont, but she could have unraveled after chopping up the par-4 seventh, her 16th hole.

After missing the fairway so far to the right she was completely blocked by trees, Sorenstam gambled by trying to punch a 7-iron from an uphill lie in deep grass, under the branches and around a tree with hopes of getting it into the bunker some 120 yards away. Instead, she advanced it only 40 yards and had to power a sand wedge over a pine to the front of the green, leading to bogey that dropped her to 1 under.

Next up was the tough par-3 eighth, a 191-yard hole with the hole cut back right on a green that slopes severely in that direction.

"I was a little fired up at the time," Sorenstam said. She was so steamed that her caddie suggested one less club, a 6-iron, to compensate for her adrenaline. She stuck with the 5-iron, and hit it to 4 feet below the cup for birdie.

"Just one of those great shots," she said. "That was a key hole, and to finish with birdie made it sweeter."

Rosales did most of her work over the final 10 holes, making birdie on all three of the par 5s. She hit wedge inside 10 feet on the first two (Nos. 9 and 11), and after belting a drive on the 465-yard 16th, she fired a 3-iron to the back of the green and two-putted from 35 feet.

"If I keep hitting the way I was today, I could get up there," she said. "I want to just give myself chances for the weekend. We'll see what happens."

CHAMPIONS TOUR: At Parkville, Mo., Hale Irwin thinks Tom Watson is the favorite for the Champions Tour event that begins Friday at a course Watson designed.

"He knows this course better than any of us," Irwin said. Watson, meanwhile, favors Irwin at the Bayer Advantage Invitational at the National in suburban Kansas City.

"He's the man to beat. Every tournament he's in, Hale's the man to beat," Watson said.

Steady rain on Wednesday and Thursday has left the course soggy and vulnerable.

SCOTTISH PGA: At Perthshire, Scotland, Miles Tunnicliff of England and Australian Nick O'Hern shared the lead at 5-under 67 after the first round Thursday.

A thunderstorm suspended play for about three hours in the afternoon with 78 players still on the Gleneagles course, but everyone was able to finish.

Irish Ryder Cup standout Paul McGinley and Spain's Santiago Luna were one shot behind the leaders at 4 under. They were followed by Richard Green of Australia, Sweden's Patrik Sjoeland and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who each shot 69. Colin Montgomerie was at 1 over after six holes when he returned to the course. He then made four birdies and two bogeys to finish the first round at 1 under.

O'Hern made six birdies, while Tunnicliff had three birdies and eagled the par-5 ninth hole.