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Sorenstam lines up 3rd Samsung title

Annika Sörenstam has nearly three months remaining to set a new career high in wins for a season, but she has her sights set on accomplishing the feat at this week's Samsung World Championship.

Last year, Sörenstam notched eight LPGA Tour wins -- the most since Nancy Lopez had eight in 1979. She may be even sharper this season, having more than twice as many points as second-place Se Ri Pak in the race for her fifth Player of the Year award.

"Obviously, I was very pleased with 2001," she said. "And a lot of people said, 'What are you going to do in 2002? There's no way you can beat that.' But in the back of my mind, I really believed I could do better. And right now, looking at this season so far, this is better."

Sörenstam enters this weekend on a two-tournament winning streak, besting the fields at the Williams Championsip and Safeway Classic.

The 72-hole, cut-free Samsung should be much more of a challenge, as it features the top 17 players on the 2002 money list and the leading money winners from Europe (Paula Marti), Korea (Mi Na Lee) and Japan (Mikino Kubo).

"The best players in the world are here," Sörenstam said. "This is the world championship, so it is a special event. But I come and just try to play my own game, and that's when I do my best. I feel like I know the golf course really well, and I'm looking forward to a great week."

Sörenstam, who turns 32 next Wednesday, has finished in the top 10 an astounding 88 percent of the time this season (15-of-17) and has a tour-best 68.69 scoring average -- 1.34 shots per round better than Pak, who is second in the Vare Trophy race.

Despite her impressive accomplishments, Sörenstam feels she has room for improvement.

"My short game, I never spent a lot of time on it," she said.

"So I'm trying. I know that's were I can save the shots. I average 14 greens a round, so on those four greens that I miss, I should be able to get up-and-down. Right now, I'm getting up-and-down about 50 percent. My goal is 75 percent.

"That might sound like only one shot a round, but that's four shots a tournament. And if you figure I play 28 tournaments a year, that's a lot of shots."

Dorothy Delasin is the defending Samsung champion. The 22-year-old recorded her sole LPGA title with a four-stroke victory over Pak and Karrie Webb last year.

But she and the rest of the star-studded field will have to play their best to beat Sörenstam, who is refreshed following an off week as she prepares for the rest of a potentially record-breaking season.

"I feel good," said Sörenstam, who needs one more victory to match Nancy Lopez's career-best tally in 1978. "I'm excited to play again.

"One week off was good, and now I'm going to play six more events. There's some records I can beat, and I'm excited about that. We'll start with this week and try to improve from last year."

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