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Annika Sorenstam goes for third Major of 2005

World number one Annika Sorenstam would have been chasing the final leg of the Grand Slam at the women's British Open starting at Royal Birkdale on Thursday if everything had gone according to plan.

Unfortunately, her dream of a season's clean sweep of the majors ended in a tie for 23rd at last month's U.S. Open -- her lowest finish in almost three years on the LPGA Tour.

The Swede will still draw the crowds, though, as she bids to become only the fourth woman to win three majors in one year after Babe Zaharias (1950 and 1961), Mickey Wright (1986) and Pat Bradley. Nobody has ever won all four in a season.

"Missing out on the Grand Slam is totally out of the system," said the season's six-time winner. "I'm having a great year and I try not too think too much about the negatives.

"If I can win three out of four majors then it will be a wonderful season and the U.S. women's Open won't ruin it."

Sorenstam's sole victory in the British Open came at Royal Lytham & St Anne's two years ago and she relishes the chance to win again over a famous Open Championship links.

"Birkdale is one of my favourite courses in Europe and I love the challenge of a links course," she added.

Sorenstam has dominated women's golf for four years and regular practice sessions with Tiger Woods have added a new dimension to her game.

"It's great to have him as a friend and a practice partner," she said. "He has so much imagination and taught me so many shots, especially around the greens."

The rivalry between the world number ones stretches to their respective accumulation of major titles.

Sorenstam made it nine-all when she won the LPGA Championship last month but Woods went ahead with his win at the Open Championship at St Andrews two weeks ago.

While 34-year-old Sorenstam is the player to beat this week, the new teenage crop headed by 18-year-old Paula Creamer and amateur Michelle Wie, 15, also have victory on their minds.

Creamer has already won twice as a rookie while Wie has had three second places on the LPGA Tour this year, including one behind Sorenstam in last month's major, the LPGA Championship.

Wie and Creamer were members of the American Solheim Cup team that beat Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup at nearby Formby last year.

"It's good to be back over here," said Wie, who continues to insist she has no idea when she will turn professional. "I'm having too much fun as an amateur.

"I play in really windy conditions back home in Hawaii so I know how to hit the low shots. This golf course is unique but it's great."

Creamer has new-found confidence after an eight-shot win in last week's Evian Masters that almost certainly clinched a place for her in the U.S. Solheim Cup team heading to Crooked Stick in Indiana in September.

"Winning last week, and by such a big margin, was huge. All the best players in the world were there and it has definitely been a great boost going into this week's major," she said.


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