GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Annika Sorenstam is ready for a new
challenge after her disappointing finish in the U.S. Women's Open.
Her Grand Slam bid derailed last week at Cherry Hills, the
Swedish star will open the inaugural HSBC Women's World Match Play
Championship on Thursday against former Solheim Cup teammate Joanne
"Match play is very, very different than stroke play,''
Sorenstam said Wednesday. "I think it's fun to have a different
format. It's a little bit more drama because anything can happen
and every hole is a different match.''
Last week in Colorado, she finished over par in a 72-hole event
for the first time in four years, tying for 23rd at 12 over -- nine
strokes behind winner Birdie Kim.
"I've analyzed last week quite a bit trying to figure out what
happened and pretty much what really didn't happen,'' Sorenstam
said. "I just came to the conclusion that I tried, but things just
didn't add up. I was pretty happy with the way I hit the ball and
pretty happy the way I was putting. I just wasn't happy with where
I ended up.''
Sorenstam has six victories -- including major wins in the
Nabisco and LPGA Championship -- in nine starts this year to push
her LPGA Tour total to 62. She will have to win six matches -- four
on the final two days -- on Hamilton Farm's hilly, water-logged
Highlands Course to take the $500,000 winner's check.
"Obviously, endurance is going to play a role, there's no doubt
about it,'' Sorenstam said. "It's a hilly course and you've got to
be in good shape, especially if the temperatures are up there. If
we get the humidity, it could be quite tough. Having said that, I'm
glad that I've been working out the last few years.''
The Hall of Famer played her pro-am round Wednesday morning
before heavy rain drenched the already soggy course 45 miles west
of New York City.
"Today, I was playing very aggressive,'' Sorenstam said. "The
fairways are quite wide and it's also very wet. You don't get a lot
of roll. You hit it somewhere and know it's going to stop there.''
Sorenstam and Morley, a 38-year-old English player who won the
European tour's German Open in 1996 and 2000, had lunch together
Wednesday. They were teammates in Europe's loss to the United
States in the 1996 Solheim Cup in Wales.
"I'm looking forward to playing against her,'' Sorenstam said.
Cristie Kerr, second behind Sorenstam among the 60 qualifiers
from the money list in the 64-player field, will face Lindsey
Wright, while third-seeded Lorena Ochoa will open against Laurie
Rinker, and No. 4 Paula Creamer will play Maria Hjorth.
"I live part-time in Manhattan, so I'm very familiar with the
area,'' Kerr said. "Being from Miami, I love hot and humid
weather, so I feel right at home here. ... I'm staying at a really
nice house that a friend of mine lent me. So instead of being in a
hotel, it's a little bit more of a homey feel.''
Kerr, the Michelob Ultra Open winner early last month, tied for
10th last week for her only top-10 finish in her last four events.
She had six top-three finishes in her first eight tournaments of
"I've played well, but things haven't quite come together,''
Kerr said. "I'm a little disappointed with the way I've played the
last month and half, but that's golf.''
In other first-round matchups, fifth-seeded Natalie Gulbis will
face Marisa Baena, Kim will open against Sophie Gustafson, Japanese
star Ai Miyazato will play Laura Diaz, and Hall of Famer Juli
Inkster will face Sung Ah Yim.
Inkster is 4-1 in singles play in the Solheim Cup and swept the
1980-82 U.S. Women's Amateur titles, winning 18 straight matches.
Sorenstam is 3-2-1 in Solheim Cup singles. She also won
the 2001 CISCO World Ladies Match Play in Japan, beating Se Ri Pak
1-up in the final.
First-round losers will get $5,000 from the
$2 million purse.
Sixteen countries are represented in the
64-player field. There are 23 Americans, 13 players from South
Korea, five from Sweden, three each from Australia and England, two
each from Scotland, Canada and Japan and one each from France,
Italy, Mexico, Taiwan, Chili, Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines.
Players will be shuttled by cart from the greens to tees on
Nos. 3-4 and 11-12, both long, uphill stretches.