MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) — The Ginn Tribute had already lost one of its main attractions in Lorena Ochoa.
Tournament host Annika Sorenstam couldn’t imagine losing the other, so she made sure that didn’t happen. Sorenstam, the world’s second-ranked golfer, rallied with six birdies on her final 10 holes for a 66 that keeps her playing at RiverTowne Country Club through the weekend.
Sure, she’s seven strokes behind Karrie Webb (66) and Sophie Gustafson (65), tied for the top at 13 under. But after moving from a tie for 60th on Thursday to a tie for eighth, all Sorenstam’s focused on is more low scores to move up the leaderboard.
“We have two more rounds so we’ll see what happens on the weekend,” Sorenstam said.
For much of the first two days, it looked like Sorenstam might be speaking as a spectator instead of a competitor.
She’s struggled in two years as tournament host.
Sorenstam came here after nearly two months away rehabbing neck and back injuries and was not crisp. She finished tied for 36th and never once breaking 70.
This time, Sorenstam was supposedly back to peak performance. She’d already won three times on tour and had the sense of urgency to win her namesake tournament after her decision to retire from the tour after this year.
For most of the first two days, Sorenstam couldn’t get things going. She had a bogey and a triple bogey her first five holes Thursday, then was stuck on even par for eight holes while Webb and Gustafson hunted birdies.
Then Sorenstam turned on the game that’s earned her a spot in the Hall of Fame with six birdies of her final 10 holes.
“As host, I have some extra obligations,” Sorenstam said. “But I am thinking of playing well on the weekend.”
Ochoa, the world No. 1 with six LPGA wins this season, withdrew earlier in the week to be with her uncle, who died after a long illness, according to Ochoa’s Web site. Ochoa is expected to return for next week’s LPGA Championship.
After Webb and Gustafson came Teresa Lu (67) and Inbee Park (68) at 9 under. Suzann Pettersen (65), defending champion of next week’s major, was in a group of three another stroke behind.
Webb, also a Hall of Famer, made eagle on the par-5 third hole for the second straight round and added six birdies to stay on top. It was her best LPGA two-round total since starting the 2005 Wendy’s Championship at 133.
Webb likes her play and position for the weekend. “I haven’t shot 65-66 consecutively for quite some time,” said Webb, who’s won 35 LPGA Tour events but none since 2006.
“I’m not counting my chickens, of course, but I like the position I’m in,” Webb said.
Gustafson is also pleased after her lowest round of the season. A runner-up to Ochoa at the Sybase, Gustafson hadn’t felt confident in her game during practice at RiverTowne this week.
Even after her opening 66, Gustafson wasn’t comfortable with her play. That changed on Friday, although Gustafson can’t explain why. “It’s better than after yesterday’s round,” she said. “It was much more solid today.”
Gustafson birdied two of her final three holes, the seventh and the ninth, to tie Webb.