Sorenstam in Contention for Mizuno Title

Saturday, November 4th 2006, 6:01 am
By: News On 6

MIE, Japan (AP) _ Annika Sorenstam moved into contention for an LPGA Tour-record sixth straight Mizuno Classic title, shooting a 6-under 66 on Saturday to finish the second round two strokes behind leader Momoko Ueda.

Sorenstam, a six-stroke winner Sunday in the Ladies European Tour's season-ending Dubai Ladies Masters, had six birdies in her bogey-free round to finish at 7-under 137 on the Kashikojima Country Club course.

``Six under. I'll take that any day,'' Sorenstam said.

``I'm ready to win. I would love to win tomorrow. I've had some great success here. I feel fortunate about that and I don't want to take anything for granted. I'm excited to be in contention tomorrow. Today's round kick-started it.''

The 20-year-old Ueda, one of 35 Japan LPGA players in the 76-player field, was 9 under after a 64 _ the course record and the best round of her career by a stroke.

Ueda, trying to become the first JLPGA winner since Hiromi Kobayashi in 1998, was asked if she would consider accepting LPGA Tour membership if she wins Sunday.

``Absolutely not!'' Ueda said. ``I have too much to work on in Japan.''

Australian star Karrie Webb, a four-time winner this year on the LPGA Tour, was a stroke back after a 67, while first-round leader Rachel Hetherington (72) was 7 under along with Sorenstam, Japanese star Ai Miyazato (68), Brittany Lang (69), Aree Song (68), Yun Hee Ku (65) and Jeong Eun Lee (65).

The 21-year-old Miyazato, seeking her first victory in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, has two wins in five JLPGA starts this year.

``The scary thing in the U.S. tour is that even if you bring your best game, the other players will do better,'' Miyazato said. ``In order to win, you have to bring a better game than the best. I think I would definitely need to do better by four strokes, but I have a feeling even that might not be enough.''

Webb, third last week in Dubai, birdied three of the four par 5s.

``There's no tricks off the tees,'' Webb said. ``To me, it's trying to keep it in the fairways and trust my eyes the way I did the last couple holes.''

Sorenstam was in the first group off the No. 1 tee.

``It's nice to be up first,'' she said. ``You don't have to wait for anybody. The greens are normally smoother and no wind. I think it's great to be one of the first, to set the pace. I'm one of those players, I love to play fast. We were first up and made the turn in 1 hour and 55 minutes, so it's a very good pace. I love it.''

Sorenstam is trying to win for the first time on the Kashikojima course. She began her streak in 2001 at Musashigaoka and won the last four years at Seta. Last year, she became the first LPGA Tour player to win a tournament five straight times and matched the record she shares with Mickey Wright for victories in an event.

``A lot of the approach shots are uphill,'' Sorenstam said. ``It's tough to know if it's 2 yards, 5 yards and, on the last hole, 10 yards. That's what you learn when you play over and over. I think tomorrow, I'll feel very comfortable about the golf course. I think I'll just play my own game and continue to hit the fairways and greens.''

Sorenstam also had a chance to win the Samsung Championship for the sixth time last month in her last LPGA Tour start, but lost a final-round lead to Lorena Ochoa. The 36-year-old Swede has three LPGA Tour victories this season, including her third U.S. Women's Open title, to push her career total to 69. She also has won twice on the European tour and teamed with Liselotte Neumann to win the Women's World Cup.

``It's tough competition,'' Sorenstam said. ``A lot of players want to win as well, but I have a strong will and I'm determined not to give up tomorrow.''

Sorenstam played a nine-hole practice round with Ueda before the event.

``I'm happy to see her up there,'' Sorenstam said. ``She has a lot of potential. She's very young. ... She asked me, 'What do you think, do I have a chance to win?' and I told her, 'Be patient, you have the game.' She showed that today.''

Ueda enjoyed spending time with Sorenstam.

``I felt very lucky,'' Ueda said. ``She's physically fit and very strong both mentally and physically. I always watched her on television, but this was my first time to see her in person. ... She's like a machine around the green and in the bunkers. She also has a very simple swing.''