Sorenstam held back by rough as teenager makes break

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The Independent Online

Annika Sorenstam, in search of the third leg of the Grand Slam, made a slow start at Cherry Hills here yesterday in the first round of the US Women's Open Championship. Looking if not nervous then at least apprehensive, the Swede, who has already won the Nabisco and McDonalds championships, drove into deep rough at the 10th hole, her first.

This was an error on two counts. One, the fairway was so wide as to be almost unmissable and two, the rough this week is distinctly longer and tougher than it was for the men's US Open at Pinehurst last week.

Sorenstam had 150 yards to go to the green but could only advance the ball 100 yards before chipping to six feet. She then had a straightforward, uphill putt, which she pulled, to drop a shot. Earlier this week the Swede had identified the key to success at Cherry Hills - "stay out of the rough" - only to deny herself at the first opportunity.

She was fortunate in her starting time, too. Going out at 8.28am meant the benefit of clear blue skies, no wind and only hot instead of baking hot.

In the group ahead, Sorenstam was being shown how the course should be played by the 17-year-old Morgan Pressel, an amateur who came to notice at the age of 12 when she first qualified for this championship.

She has continued to be a golfing prodigy, this being the third time she has played a US Open.

Yesterday, Pressel began with birdies at her first two holes, the 10th and the long 11th, a 522-yard hole that she reached in two. She holed from seven feet for another birdie at the 13th and at the 433-yard par four 14th, she almost holed her second stroke.

The fairway falls away to a creek to the left and rear of the green and anything slightly mis-hit will finish wet. Pressel pitched her second perfectly to a halt two feet from the hole. A tap-in took her to four-under. Two pars followed but then she took advantage of another par five, the 17th, to birdie again to lead by four from Jennifer Rosales from the Philippines and Lorena Ochoa of Mexico. Sorenstam birdied the 16th to get back to even par.

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