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Sorenstam barely makes British cut

Special to The Times

SUNNINGDALE, England -- Of all the hundreds of hitches and glitches that can ravage a human being’s golf game, here’s one sort of novel idea: a retirement announcement.

That certainly seems to have factored into the case of Annika Sorenstam, who called 2008 her last year on May 13 and hasn’t looked much like Annika Sorenstam since.

“Pretty much since I made my announcement, I have not been able to get anything going,” a baffled Sorenstam said Friday after she couldn’t get anything going again at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in which many players have been getting things going.

Her second straight, desultory, even-par 72 had left her in a five-way tie for 59th place, staring 10 shots upward at the leaders, Yuri Fudoh of Japan and Ji-Yai Shin of South Korea, and nine shots behind Juli Inkster, 48, the official Greg Norman Inspirational Golf Dotage Entry of this event at Sunningdale Golf Club southwest of London.

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Not only that, but as contention included multitudes from defending champion Lorena Ochoa -- right there at seven under par -- to Laura Diaz, six under after an inconceivable round of 72 with three eagles -- to the affable 20-year-old Shin blithely pegging the course as “very easy,” golf junkies had the rare task of spending an afternoon trying to deduce whether Sorenstam might miss the cut.

As she signed autographs for hordes behind No. 18, she did so with the outside possibility they wouldn’t see her anymore.

If you think spending her farewell major missing her first major cut since the 2002 Women’s British Open and her first cut anywhere since May 2006 would’ve seemed plain weird, you’re spot-on. As it happened, 78 players made the cut at one over, but it was weird enough just hearing a 10-major icon ply a tired refrain of golfer rationalization.

“Both my caddie and Mike” -- her fiance Mike McGee -- “we have analyzed the last two and a half months to death,” Sorenstam said. “I am swinging very well, but now I’m putting well and for some reason, I am having a hard time scoring. . . . I know I’m stepping away, but in my mind, I’m as good as I’ve ever been. Scores don’t reflect that, but in my heart and in my head I believe it.”

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Thereby did she sound like the long-slumping David Duval, having gone T-11, T-32, T-3, T-33, T-24 and T-17 since May 13, a bonanza for most golfers but a plunge for her. She has proved good at playing about 15 holes per round, she said, even if she did extricate herself Friday from bogeys on Nos. 5, 6 and 7 with birdies on Nos. 9, 10 and 11. On No. 6, she inexplicably three-putted from 30 feet.

Having added to golf’s seemingly limitless causes for suffering, Sorenstam still professed a general happiness and said, “I felt a responsibility to everyone” to announce pending retirement, “to my sponsors, to you guys [reporters], to fans, in general. I thought it was the right thing to do and if my golf ball decides to do different things, I can’t control that.”


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