EDINA, Minn. (AP) — Annika Sorenstam moved up the leader board despite putter woes at the U.S. Open on Friday, playing for the last time in the major she affectionately calls “The Open.”
Sorenstam shot a 3-under 70 and was 1 under for the tournament, five strokes behind Angela Park and four behind Minea Blomqvist.
“I love the course,” Sorenstam said. “I think I’m hitting it about as good as I can. I just have to work on a few things with my putter, and I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”
As cloudy morning skies gave way to sunshine at Interlachen, Sorenstam’s day finished fittingly with a large gallery watching on the par-5 18th. She hit a beautiful second shot within 4 feet, but pushed the eagle putt just inches to the right to keep her at 1 under.
Calling her stroke “short and jabby,” Sorenstam finished with 33 putts, missing a 10-foot birdie attempt on No. 12.
She said the ball sometimes jumped and didn’t roll the way she wanted on the fast, hilly greens.
“It has to do with tempo and it has to do with the length of my backswing,” Sorenstam said. “It just takes a while to make a few changes. Playing fast greens like this, it makes it tougher when it’s so tricky out there.”
She had five birdies on the day, including the one she settled for on 18 to rebound from a rough trip through the difficult 17th, where she hit trees on her first two shots and wound up with a bogey.
While Sorenstam couldn’t get things going with the putter, the 19-year-old Park was successful on the greens.
After shooting par in the opening round on Thursday, Park made an eagle on No. 2 and five birdies for a 67 to move into an early tie with first-round leader Ji Young Oh.
“Every stroke out there, I hit,” Park said. “Every putt I hit out there was flawless strokes … And I read the greens really well. So I think that was the key.”
Oh and Lorena Ochoa teed off later in the afternoon, as did defending champion Cristie Kerr. Pat Hurst, who shared the lead with Oh after the first day at 6 under, shot a 78 on Friday.
Blomqvist, a 23-year-old from Finland, shot 69 and hopes to get a little attention in her homeland.
“Golf is getting bigger there,” Blomqvist said. “I hope I can get a little piece in the newspaper.”
The game is much bigger in nearby Sweden, thanks to Sorenstam’s dominance. But she plans to retire after this year, and the crowds are turning out in appreciation of a proud champion.
Sorenstam has made it clear that she’s looking for more than just a fond farewell, and she likes her position heading into the weekend.
“I’m trying to play well. But I always walk away with great memories,” Sorenstam said. “The better you play, the more memories you have. It’s great to be here. The fans make it special. The course makes it special. The Open makes it special. It’s just a wonderful week, really.”