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Sorenstam seeks third US Open title

World number one Annika Sorenstam goes into this week's U.S. Women's Open as firm favourite to win her second major of the year, but is determined to treat the event as "just another tournament".

Champion in 1995 and 1996, the Swede has come close to winning the title for a third time, finishing second behind Juli Inkster two years ago and missing out by a shot on the three-way playoff won last year at Pumpkin Ridge by Hilary Lunke.

"Eight years is a long time since I won this event, but sometimes I think I want it so badly that I screw up," seven times major winner Sorenstam told a news conference at the Orchards Golf Club on Tuesday.

"This year, I've tried just to stick to my usual routine."

At the start of the year, Sorenstam made public her desire to win all four majors in 2004. However, she failed in the opening event, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, when she had to settle for a share of 13th.

Three weeks ago, though, she successfully defended the LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club in Delaware, prompting suggestions that she might re-adjust her sights on winning the next three majors after that.

"Four in a row is something that is very hard to do," she said of a feat achieved by Tiger Woods in the men's game in 2000. "And to set such a goal is putting a lot of pressure on myself. At the moment, I just want to concentrate on this week."

South Korea's Grace Park, who won year's opening major, had to pull out of last week's LPGA event in Rochester after the first round because of a sore back. The Korean insists, though, she is ready to mount a challenge this week.

"My back is fine, I just needed a little rest," said the 25-year-old, who has produced three top-10 U.S. Open finishes, including a tie for eighth as an amateur in 1999.

"It has always been my goal to win the U.S. Women's Open and I think this is the best chance that I have ever had.

"I really think this course suits my game because I hit it long and high and will be able to stop it better on the small greens."

Pak Se Ri, winner as a rookie in 1998, is another of the strong South Korean contingent among the title favourites. "I think it is a great course," she said. "It is very difficult and par will be a good score."

Lunke, a shock winner when she edged out fellow Americans Angela Stanford and Kelly Robbins in the 18-hole playoff 12 months ago, would create an even bigger surprise if she defended her title.

Last year's victory is her only top-10 finish in three seasons on the LPGA Tour and this year she has missed six cuts in 11 starts. Her best result was a tie for 36th at the LPGA event in Atlanta.

"I feel my game is getting there," Lunke told reporters. "But it is just great to be here as the defending champion and I'm enjoying the week.

"I'll never forget last year, and my name will always be on the trophy."

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