TOKYO -- Annika Sorenstam is poised to win her last
tournament before the PGA Tour's Colonial.
The Swedish star shot a 1-under 71 in windy conditions Saturday
to open a five-stroke lead in the Nichirei Cup.
Sorenstam had four birdies and three bogeys on the Tokyo Yomiuri
Country Club course to take a 9-under 207 total into the final
round. Japan's Kaori Suzuki was second after a 69.
"My driving was excellent, but I had a hard time getting the
ball to the hole,'' Sorenstam said. "The wind was tough to judge
on several holes and that made it hard to reach the pin.''
Sorenstam, set to face the men in two weeks in Fort Worth,
Texas, picked up her first birdie of the day on the 500-yard, par-5
sixth hole when she chipped on from the side of the green and sank
a 7-foot putt.
Sorenstam's first bogey of the round was on the par-4 10th,
where she three-putted. She picked up a stroke on the par-4 14th
with a 15-foot birdie putt, but missed a 2-foot par putt on the
short par-3 15th for her second bogey of the day.
"I've bogeyed that hole twice now and there's no reason for
that because I'm using a 9-iron,'' Sorenstam said.
She came back with a birdie on the 16th when she hit a sand
wedge to 8 feet and then made it back-to-back birdies after
chipping to 3 feet on the par-5 17th.
"The key on this course is the par 5s,'' Sorenstam said. "I
birdied two of them today and hopefully I can birdie all of them
A bogey on the par-3 18th was typical of the difficulty
Sorenstam had with her short game and the windy conditions. Her
drive with a 4-iron landed a foot short of the green. She chipped
on but left herself an uphill 30-foot putt and then two-putted.
"I hit the ball well,'' Sorenstam said. "But there was a big
gust of wind and I ended up 30 yards short.''
Despite the big lead, Sorenstam wasn't completely satisfied with
her game and headed to the practice tee after the round.
"I need to work on my chipping and putting,'' she said. "It
didn't seem like I could score well today so I'm going to have to
work on that.''
Sorenstam, who won 13 worldwide events last year, was sixth last
week in the Michelob Light Open in Virginia, and has one victory in
five starts this year. She will become the first woman to play on
the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias in the 1945 Los Angeles Open.