Sorenstam out to break the chain of links failure

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The Independent Online

Annika Sorenstam, who became more famous for missing the cut in a men's event earlier this season than she was for serial victories on the women's circuit, is an enthusiastic chef who spent part of her off-season last winter working in the kitchens at her home club of Lake Nona in Orlando. The Swede has done rather well on her own version of the breakfast of champions diet, winning 25 times in the last two and a half seasons alone.

Where Sorenstam has found things slightly rougher is when confronted by a traditional British cereal. The Weetabix Women's British Open is the only major championship she has yet to win, something she will be aiming to put right here this weekend.

This is the fourth time in six years that the women's championship has been played on courses from the men's Open rota and the move to links golf has not suited her to date. A runner-up four times at inland venues such as Woburn and Sunningdale, she has struggled to get into contention at the links venues and last year missed the cut at Turnberry.

Her 77 in the second round there was three shots higher than her worst round at the Colonial, the men's PGA Tour event she played to great fanfare in May. Missing the cut there must have been a jolt to the system since she has only ever done it twice in Europe, both at the British Open, and four times in all since the start of the 1995 season. But apart from a belated exhaustion - she took a break prior to last week's Evian Masters where her 17th place finish was her worst since Turnberry - Sorenstam learned much from the Colonial experience.

She has since worked harder at her short game, having been astounded by Sergio Garcia's shot range around the greens during a practice round, while it also showed her how to manage her time and deal with the attention better.

One of Sorenstam's reasons for playing with the men was to improve her record in the majors. She had won four before this year, while Karrie Webb, the defending champion here, has six but, soon after the Colonial, Sorenstam won her first LPGA Championship.

Otherwise there have been parallels with the men's winners this season. While the Canadian Mike Weir won the Masters, France's Patrice Meunier Lebouc triumphed at the Nabisco Championship. Unlike Weir, Meunier is now pregnant, but still intending to play in the Solheim Cup in Sweden in September.

Then, before Ben Curtis became the most frequently searched name on the internet on the last day of the Open at Sandwich, Hilary Lunke came from nowhere to win an 18-hole play-off at the US Women's Open. That no one had heard of Lunke was partly because she had never finished better than 15th and partly because it was under her maiden name of Homeyer that she played in the Curtis Cup at Ganton in 2000.

There also have been venerable winners among the women as on the men's circuit, with Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster, 43, winning recently. Inkster won the Evian Masters last week, the first leg of the American LPGA sanctioned double bill on this side of the Atlantic.

Laura Davies is approaching her 40th birthday, but is as determined as ever to add to her sole British Open win, at Royal Birkdale in 1986. "This course favours one of the top ball-strikers," said Davies, one of the BBC commentators when David Duval won here in 2001.

Davies reportedly played football with Zinedine Zidane last week at the Evian during a match with the caddies. Stranger things have been known. It is alleged there were sightings of the former Solheim Cup captain Dale Reid paragliding over the Alps.

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