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GOLF ROUNDUP

Curtis Leads With a 64; Sorenstam Wins a Match

July 01, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Winning the British Open didn't protect Ben Curtis from golf's ups and downs.

He has been down for most of the last two years, struggling to make cuts, let alone a run like the one that won him the Claret Jug in 2003.

On Thursday, though, he was up. He shot a bogey-free, seven-under 64 in the first round of the Western Open at Lemont, Ill., finishing one stroke shy of the course record and grabbing a share of the lead with Jim Furyk and Todd Fischer.

"I'm still a long ways away from playing really good golf," Curtis said. "It's coming, but I'd like to put four good rounds together instead of one or two. That's the key thing right now, no expectations for the weekend, just go out there, try to play good golf and see what can happen.

"I know I can win, I think I can win," he added. "But there are still parts of my game that I need to improve on and get more consistent."

If not, there are plenty of people right behind him. Former Western Open champion Robert Allenby, Chad Campbell, Harrison Frazar and Chris Couch are two strokes back (66), and John Daly is in a big pack at 69.

Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh struggled. Woods finished at two-over 73. Singh shot a one-over 72.

"If I shoot 64, 65, I'll be right back in this thing where I could win it," said Woods, a three-time Western winner.

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Annika Sorenstam, coming off a disappointing finish in the U.S. Open, overcame an early deficit to beat Joanne Morley, 2 and 1, in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Gladstone, N.J.

The Swedish star will face 32nd-seeded Tina Barrett -- a 5-and-3 winner over Young Kim -- in the second round. The tournament will then turn into an endurance test in the sweltering conditions, with the third round and quarterfinals set for Saturday and the semifinals and final Sunday on Hamilton Farm's hilly Highlands Course.

"It was hot, very steamy," Sorenstam said.

Second-seeded Cristie Kerr also advanced, beating Lindsey Wright, 2 and 1. Kerr will face Liselotte Neumann today. Neumann beat Moira Dunn, 4 and 3.

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Sihwan Kim of Fullerton shot five-under 67 to win the American Junior Golf Assn.'s Mission Hills Desert Junior at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.

The defending U.S. Junior Amateur champion set a tournament record by shooting three consecutive rounds under 70 on the Palmer Course to finish at 199, five strokes ahead of runner-up Rickie Fowler of Murrieta.

Sydnee Michaels of Temecula shot 70 to finish at 214 for a five-stroke victory and her second girls' division title in two weeks.

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