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Lorena Ochoa and Siew-Ai Lim Lead Safeway

March 18, 2005

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. (AP) _ Defending champion Annika Sorenstam shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday to finish a stroke behind first-round leaders Lorena Ochoa and Siew-Ai Lim in the Safeway Classic, while Michelle Wie was in danger of missing the cut after a 73.

Sorenstam won her 57th LPGA Tour title two weeks ago weeks ago in Mexico in her season debut, her third straight victory dating to last year. The 15-year-old Wie is coming off a second-place tie in the season-opening SBS Open in Hawaii.

Juli Inkster matched Sorenstam at 66, Karen Stupples had a 67, and Soo-Yun Kang, Sung Ah Yim and Moira Dunn shot 68s. Paula Creamer, Beth Daniel, Candie Kung, Natalie Gulbis, Marcy Hart, Dawn Coe-Jones, Karrie Webb and Kim Williams had 69s.

Playing in the first group to tee off on the back nine, Wie lost her touch in the chilly morning air, dropping two strokes on the par-5 18th _ the only hole on the course with a water hazard. Already 1 over after eight holes, the teen hooked her drive into the fairway-length pond, duplicated that with a 3-wood after a drop and had to get up and down from a bunker to salvage a double-bogey 7.

The Hawaii native missed the cut in all three LPGA events she entered in 2002, but has made 14 of 15 since then, with the 2003 Jamie Farr Classic the only exception.

Lim parred five straight holes before going on an eight-birdie, one-bogey tear for her career-low score.

Lim, the only Malaysian on the LPGA Tour, three-putted the 14th hole from 80 feet for a bogey that set her back to 3 under. But she dug down for a four-birdie finish.

Ochoa, the young Mexican star who played at the University of Arizona, played the 6,229-yard Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain the opposite way, birdieing her first four holes.

She recovered from a bogey on the seventh hole by birdieing the eighth and ninth, knocked a 3-wood within 25 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 11th and got a share of the lead with a 6-foot birdie putt on the 16th.

Sorenstam, who has had the four lowest scoring averages ever over the last four years, chipped in for one of her six birdies and sank putts of 17 and 25 for two others.

Inkster made the most spectacular charge of all, though.

The 44-year-old Hall of Famer was even after two birdies and two bogeys through 10 holes, and then had five consecutive birdies, sinking putts between 15 and 18 feet for three of them.

Then came the best. On the par-5 finishing hole, Inkster missed a 90-foot putt for eagle by inches and sank a 5-foot comebacker for her sixth birdie in eight holes.

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