Bowie Leads, Sorenstam Leaves LPGA Event

Friday, July 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ Heather Bowie is reaping the rewards of one of her best years on the LPGA Tour, while Annika Sorenstam is feeling some negative effects from hers.

Bowie took the lead with a 6-under 66, and Sorenstam withdrew after six holes Thursday in the Canadian Women's Open.

Sorenstam said she was worn out by a busy schedule and a cold that has bothered her since last week's U.S. Open.

``I feel bad for the fans and the tournament, but my whole body feels ill,'' she said in a statement before leaving Point Grey Golf and Country Club. ``I tried my best to play today and I apologize to the fans, but I need to go home and get better.''

Sorenstam, who has taken only one week off since playing in the Colonial on the PGA Tour in May, teed off at 12:30 p.m. She was 1 over through six holes, and walked off after hitting her second shot on the par-4 seventh into a greenside bunker.

``I was hoping the last couple of days with rest would have made me feel better but the last couple of months have caught up with me,'' Sorenstam said.

Grace Park, Jeong Jang, Pat Hurst and Juli Inkster opened with 68s on the narrow, tree-lined layout. Defending champion Meg Mallon and Se Ri Pak were in a group of nine at 69.

``You need to score on the par-5s,'' said Inkster, who birdied all three of the shorter par-5s on the 6,389-yard course.

Bowie followed Inkster's advice with an eagle and two birdies on the par-5s. The 28-year-old Texan also took advantage of a good pairing with Kelly Robbins to come within a stroke of her career-best score.

``You definitely do feed off each other,'' said Bowie, enjoying her best of four seasons on the LPGA Tour. She finished 41st in the U.S. Open last week, but tied for sixth at the Shoprite Classic the week before, her third top-10 finish this season.

``I don't think it's out of the blue,'' Bowie said. ``I've kind of been right on the cusp of it and maybe it's coming together now.''

Bowie started her round with a short birdie putt on the 485-yard, par-5 10th, made a ``40-foot bomb'' for eagle on the 455-yard 3rd, and added another short birdie putt on the 468-yard, par-5 18th. She had three more birdies and a bogey.

``I never thought I was playing that well,'' Bowie said. ``I was just playing how Kelly was playing. She was right there the whole time.''

Robbins, who was part of the three-way playoff in U.S. Open on Monday, had it to 5 under before a double-bogey on the last hole dropped her three shots behind her playing partner.

``It's not the best way to end, but I'll be OK,'' she said.

Robbins started by holing out for eagle on No. 10 her first hole of the day and added another eagle on No. 3. Not bad considering it was her first look at the course after the hectic finish in the U.S. Open.

``It was a little strange but my caddie had the numbers we needed and he knows my game well enough to just tell me where to hit it,'' Robbins said. ``After a week like last week I'm pretty much relaxed right now and just really tried to enjoy my day and the way I'm playing. You hope that a lot of good things are still coming from last week.''

Hilary Lunke, who won the U.S. Open playoff over Angela Stanford and Robbins, shot a 76.

Inkster, who said she also was drained after the U.S. Open, understood Sorenstam's decision to pull out of the tournament.

``She's been under the microscope and on the go and if she didn't feel she could play her best golf, she did the right thing,'' Inkster said.

Divots: Sorenstam won the 2001 Canadian Open in Ontario, but skipped her title defense last year to play an event in her native Sweden. ... Leslie Spalding aced the 157-yard second hole with a 5-iron. She shot a a 75.