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Annika Sorenstam set for run at majors
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Two targets for Sorenstam at Bulle Rock

Defending champion and grand slam-chasing Annika Sorenstam will have two targets in her sights when she tees off in the opening round of the LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock on Thursday.

The Swedish world number one is bidding to become the first player to win the title three years in a row and also the first to win the opening two majors of the season since Pat Bradley in 1986.

Sorenstam could hardly be more confident, having clinched her fifth tournament in seven 2005 starts by four shots at the LPGA Classic in Atlantic City on Sunday.

"This week is huge and one I've been looking forward to for a long time," the eight-times major winner told reporters on Tuesday.

"I couldn't have asked for a better preparation than winning last week. I putted very well in Atlantic City and I feel prepared and ready.

"I suppose I'm a little sorry that we've moved courses because I had just got the DuPont course figured out."

Sorenstam won the LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club in Delaware in 2003 and again last year before the venue was switched to Bulle Rock.

Unquestionably, though, the Swede's biggest motivation this year is the chance of becoming the first player -- man or woman -- to win all four professional majors in a single season.

She romped to victory by eight strokes in the opening major of the year, at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March, and is firm favourite to win again this week.

"I just hope that my momentum continues," said the 34-year-old, who has won seven of her last nine events.

"Obviously, winning a grand slam is a huge ask. Nobody has done it before and you need to play well and get some good luck. Everything has to go right for you.

"But I'm feeling good. I won the first one and so it's great to have the chance to keep the dream going."

Sorenstam's LPGA victory on Sunday was the 61st of her career and only Kathy Whitworth (88) and Mickey Wright (82) have more.

The Swede's dominance of the women's game for the last five years appears to have left many of her rivals bruised and battered.

Australia's Karrie Webb, her predecessor as world number one, has not won on Tour for more than a year while South Korea's Pak Se Ri, her big rival for the last two seasons, has complained of fatigue and lies outside the top 100 on the LPGA money list.

Grace Park, another South Korean who climbed to number two in the world last year, has been plagued by back trouble and has also failed to hit top form in 2005.

American Cristie Kerr, however, is one player who is very much on the rise.

She claimed a victory over Sorenstam at last month's Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill in Virginia and the feisty 27-year-old is fast establishing herself as a top contender.

She lies second in the LPGA money list, albeit more than $400,000 behind Sorenstam's $1,233,238.

Kerr has also proved herself in the majors with five top-10 finishes, the first a tie for second at the 2000 U.S. Women's Open and the most recent a share of third at this season's Nabisco.

"Annika's a great player and she's always going to be right up there," said Kerr.

"But we can play with her. I feel great to be the top American on the money list and this is going to be a big week."

 

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