Annika plays just three holes, now in tie for lead
WILMINGTON, Del. -- Annika Sorenstam played three holes, made one bogey, lost her two-stroke lead in the LPGA Championship and then retreated to her hotel room Saturday to watch "My Big Fat Greek Wedding.''
A steady rain that saturated DuPont Country Club suspended the third round and made it a short day at the office for Sorenstam, although one thing was clear.
The rest of this major championship will take some work.
Sorenstam returns Sunday morning tied for the lead with Hee-Won Han at 7 under par and facing 33 holes on a waterlogged course.
"If it doesn't dry out by tomorrow morning, it's going to be tough,'' Sorenstam said. "Playing a major championship, you think and focus so much on every single hole.''
Here's another possibility: She might return to the course and find herself in the homestretch, tied for the lead with 15 holes remaining to decide the winner.
Rain continued to pound DuPont late Saturday afternoon, and while tournament officials were hopeful of getting in 72 holes, there was no guarantee.
"Our focus is to play as much golf as we can tomorrow with the goal of finishing 72 holes by dark,'' said Barb Trammell, vice president of tour operations for the LPGA Tour.
Then again, she said it would be "no small miracle'' to get the course ready by 7:30 a.m., when the third round is scheduled to resume. Finishing on Monday was a possibility if the leaders only had a few holes left, although Trammell wouldn't commit to that.
While this is a major, there is precedence. Rain cut short the 1996 McDonald's LPGA Championship, won by Laura Davies.
All that was certain Saturday was that Sorenstam no longer had control of the major championship she desperately wants to win.
Play began five hours ahead of schedule in an attempt to beat the rain. It already was falling by the time Sorenstam teed off at 8:50 a.m., at 8 under par and two shots clear of the 24-year-old South Korean.
Han made a short birdie putt on No. 1.
Sorenstam drove into the rough on No. 2, and the grass was so thick and wet that she could only advance the ball up the fairway, then failed to make a 12-foot par putt.
Both players made 8-foot par putts on No. 3, and Sorenstam knew then that she would not be playing much longer.
"Water was gathering on the greens,'' she said.
Within minutes, five of the greens were covered with water and the green on No. 10 had turned into a shallow lake.
Play was suspended, but not until Han hooked her drive into the rough on No. 4 and played across the fairway into more rough. Sorenstam was in the fairway.
Rachel Teske birdied No. 2 and was at 4 under, while Wendy Ward bogeyed her first three holes to fall to 2 under. The only other players under par were Rosie Jones and Lorena Ochoa at 1 under. Ochoa played the front nine in 3-under 32.
The forecast was more scattered afternoon showers Sunday, but the challenge was getting the course in shape for a 7:30 a.m. start.
No one had played more than nine holes, and the groups will keep the same three players for the final two rounds to save time.
Sorenstam was adamant that the LPGA Championship go 72 holes, even if that meant finishing on Monday. That could create problems for some in the field that have to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.
"I've always been in favor of four rounds, especially in a major. It's a must,'' she said.
While Sorenstam rules women's golf, she doesn't run the tour.
Tournament director Alice Miller said it might be tough to find enough volunteers who can return, and she noted that concessions are supplied by vendors from out of the region.
"We will still put on a show, but hot dogs may be few and far between,'' she said.
Sorenstam only wanted to play, although it was a nice break for her.
She is on the tail end of a taxing stretch of golf. She played in the Colonial two weeks ago, missing the cut as she became the first woman in 58 years on the PGA Tour.
She won last week in Chicago, but her mind was always on McDonald's -- not a Big Mac, but another major championship some believe she needs to win to support an otherwise incredible record.
Instead of making birdies Saturday, she was watching movies.
"I'm just trying to keep my spirits up, just take it easy,'' Sorenstam said. "It's been a long, last three weeks for sure. I'm fine with a little break.''
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press