Sorenstam takes lead after first round at Corning Classic

May 25, 2007 - 12:06 AM CORNING, New York (Ticker) - There is a Sorenstam at the top of the leaderboard at the Corning Classic. It's just not the one you would expect.

Charlotta Sorenstam shot an 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead over Beth Bader and a two-stroke edge over a group of three in the $1.3 million event at the Corning Country Club.

Sorenstam carded a bogey-free round, notching four birdies on the front and back nine, looking more like the Swedish superstar Annika Sorenstam, who is expected back next week from a back injury. Starting on the back nine, the Charlotta Sorenstam also from Sweden, parred the first four holes before carding four straight birdies on Nos. 14-17.

"It was a lot of fun," Sorenstam said. "No, I hit a lot of fairways out there. Only missed three fairways and two greens. Lately that's been my fault. I've been hitting a lot of roughs. So it was fun hitting out of fairways today. It was a lot easier to attack the pins. I must say this is the first year I'll only hit driver on just a few holes here. I've always hit driver, driver, driver."

"Well, it's the first day," Sorenstam said. "You can't win a tournament the first day. You can just put a good score up there. There are three more days, and the tournament doesn't start until the back 9 on Sunday. I'm just glad to have a good run in there."

Bader also played a bogey-free round, carding four birdies on the way out and three more coming in.

"I think I hit 11 fairways and 17 greens, so that helps," Bader said. "Once you hit the greens they're small enough you can get birdie shots on every one of them. I hit the ball really good and I made some putts."

One of the favorites, Paula Creamer, who is playing Corning for the first time in her career, is among a group at 6-under.

"I mean, anywhere you shoot 6-under, that's a good day," Creamer said. "I'll take 6-under first day every day, no matter what the golf course is. It's a good course to go low on, that's for sure. I said earlier if you miss in the wrong place you're going to make bogey. The greens here are so punishing if you're above the hole and you have to be aware of where you hit the ball."

Creamer, who won the SBS Open earlier this season and was the 2005 Rookie of the Year, has four top-10 finishes this season and is looking forward to another strong performance on the 6,132-yard, par-72 layout here.

"This is the type of golf course that I grew up on. Tree-lined, old traditional-style golf course," Creamer said. "This is what I like. I think it levels everybody out because length isn't really a big issue."

Defending champion Hee-Won Han, expecting her first child in a little less than two months, is not in the field this year.

Last season, Han outlasted Meena Lee in a four-hole playoff, but for the first time in the tournament's 29-year history, the defending champion is not in the field. Han stopped playing after the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April.

While Han is gone, the field does include past champions Jimin Kang (2005), Carin Koch (2001), Kelli Kuehne (1999) and Sherri Turner (1988).

First prize is $195,000.

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