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Steinhauer (67) leads in wind

August 31, 2007|From the Associated Press

Sherri Steinhauer shot a five-under-par 67 in windy conditions Thursday at Springfield, Ill., to take a one-stroke lead in the LPGA State Farm Classic, while Annika Sorenstam was four shots back in defense of her last tour title.

Steinhauer, the last of the 10 automatic qualifiers for the U.S. Solheim Cup team for the Sept. 14-16 matches against Europe in Sweden, had five birdies in her bogey-free round on the Panther Creek Country Club course. Winless since the 2006 Women's British Open, Steinhauer played alongside Solheim Cup teammate Angela Stanford (72).

"I think we do consider ourselves teammates out there and we're pulling for each other. . . . And we were talking about some things about Solheim out there today, and we're just really looking forward to the competition," the 44-year-old Steinhauer said.

Sorenstam, the winner last year at the Rail Golf Club, had two birdies and a bogey in a round of 71.

Last season at Rail, Sorenstam won the last of her 69 LPGA Tour titles, closing with a 10-under 62 to match the lowest final-round score by a tournament winner in tour history. The tournament moved to Panther Creek this year after 31 seasons at Rail.

"I thought today was tougher than the practice round and the pro-am," Sorenstam said. "The wind picked up and the ball traveled to different places. The greens are getting firmer and the fairway is getting firmer."

Japanese star Ai Miyazato and Marcy Hart opened with 68s. Kraft Nabisco champion Morgan Pressel shot a 69. The 19-year-old Pressel closed with a double-bogey 6 on No. 9 after hitting into the water.

Christina Kim, Kate Golden, Angela Park, Rachel Hetherington, Janice Moodie and Leta Lindley also shot 69s.

The crowd following Tiger Woods around the TPC Boston grew steadily throughout the morning sunshine until it lined the length of the 18th fairway as he finished his pro-am Thursday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Maybe that's why some people believe the playoffs don't start until Woods shows up.

"Let's be honest about it," Rich Beem said. "There's only one person that really matters in this playoff system, and that's Tiger Woods. If Tiger is not playing, you're not going to have a whole lot of validity. If he's not playing, then how serious can we be about this?"

Woods skipped the first round of the PGA Tour playoffs last week at the Barclays, saying his body and mind needed a brief vacation after consecutive victories in stifling heat, the second title coming at the PGA Championship.

He looked plenty refreshed on the refurbished TPC Boston during the pro-am round, playing without a bogey and without much effort on his way to a 63. That's the same score he had the last time he was on this course, when he turned a three-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over Vijay Singh in the final round last year.

Woods is in fourth place in the playoff standings, behind Steve Stricker, K.J. Choi and Rory Sabbatini.

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