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Sorenstam favourite for British Open

Annika Sorenstam has twice retained major titles in her illustrious career, and the world number one is favourite to complete a notable treble at the Women's British Open starting on Thursday.

The Swede beat South Korea's Pak Se Ri, world-ranked two, by a shot to win last year's Women's British Open at Royal Lytham & St Anne's. She has since added a seventh career major with a successful defence at the LPGA Championship last month.

"It's great to be attempting another repeat," said the 33-year-old, who is hoping to end a recent run of near misses.

Sorenstam finished second in the U.S. Women's' Open four weeks ago and was runner-up to Australia's Wendy Doolan in the Evian Masters in France last Saturday.

"But I've forgotten those disappointments already," added the Swede.

"Now I'm just excited about being here. The course is a little greener than I expected, but it's in great shape and it's a thinking person's course, which I really like."

Sorenstam is continually questioned about possible retirement dates. While she insists she has not set a date, she concedes her enthusiasm for some aspects of life on tour is beginning to wane.

"I am a little less keen on all the travel and the practice rounds," she said. "But I love the big tournaments and, as long as I feel motivated, then I will continue to play."

This season, Sorenstam has already won four titles on the LPGA Tour, plus the Ladies' Masters in Australia. With 2004 earnings of $1,636,290, she heads the LPGA money list.

The only other player to have broken the $1 million barrier is American Meg Mallon ($1,080,290), who pipped Sorenstam for victory at the U.S. Women's Open before clinching the Canadian Open the following week.

"It was a fantastic run," said the popular 41-year-old, who is a genuine contender to add a first British Open title to her haul of four majors.

South Korea's Grace Park is the other major winner this year, having triumphed at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California in March, although a bad back has affected her form in recent weeks.

The Korean pulled out of one event at the end of June and finished well down the field at the U.S. Women's Open and at last week's Evian Masters.

Wendy Doolan won the Evian title thanks to a final-round 65 that secured her the title by a stroke from Sorenstam. In the absence of Karrie Webb this week, she must be considered the best Australian hope.

Webb pulled out of the Evian Masters citing "personal and family problems" and has returned home to Australia.

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