CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. - As it turned out, there was more thunder than birdies yesterday at the U.S. Women's Open for Annika Sorenstam, who discovered that bad weather did nothing but delay the unruly 4-over-par 75 that was in store for her at Cherry Hills Country Club.
There still may be a third straight major championship in the works for Sorenstam, but not unless she starts getting the ball in the hole a lot faster.
After a bogey-bogey-bogey finish, you could almost see the steam rising off Sorenstam's visor. One place she was not heading was the practice range.
"I think it's just one of those days," Sorenstam said. "Sometimes you just can't analyze things. You just drop it, move on and come back."
It could have been worse. Sorenstam hit just eight fairways, two fewer than her first round, needed 35 putts and now starts today tied for 22nd and six shots out of the lead, with 15-year-old Michelle Wie and Lorena Ochoa tied for second.
Setting the pace is 21-year-old Nicole Perrot of Chile.
The shock of the day had to be Sorenstam's problems. Her total number of birdies equaled the number of weather delays, one of each. Afternoon thunderstorms are about as common as trees around here, so the fact Sorenstam hasn't been able to put on some kind of birdie run is probably the surprise of the tournament.
Sorenstam has four birdies in 36 holes and after starting the day at even par and two shots from the lead, she started going in the wrong direction. She insisted that there is a long way to go.
"Six shots behind is nothing," she said. "That can change in nine holes, can change in four holes. I have been there, I have done that. I know what it feels like. So, obviously, I have got to make some putts. I have to play some good golf, no doubt about it. But I am a fighter and I'm not going to give up until the end."
In the 156-player field, Sorenstam ranks 102nd in putting.
"There are birdies out there," she said, "I just haven't been able to find them."
Wie said not even a 2-over 73 would sour her disposition, and not just because she had to get up at 4:15 a.m. in order to play the last three holes of her first round.
At par 142 through the first two rounds and two shots behind Perrot, Wie said she's ready to win this U.S. Women's Open.
"I feel like I'm ready. I feel like I am playing well enough and as long as I make a couple more putts, play a little bit more consistently, if I play under par, I think I have a good chance."
She saved her only birdie of the second round for the last hole, the ninth, when she stuck a 7-iron within a foot of the flag stick.
That was a lot more fun for Wie than the two lengthy rain delays she endured along with playing partners Brittany Lincicome and Laura Davies on Thursday. At least Wie, who just completed ninth grade in Honolulu, and 19-year-old Lincicome bonded as they sat in a van and waited out the storm.
"We made a club, actually," Wie said. "We called it 'Club Delay.' "
At this point, it's clear there is no delay in Wie's emergence into the big time. She has two second-place finishes in four LPGA events this year, including a runner-up to Sorenstam two weeks ago in the LPGA Championship, which is the second major of the year.
Wie might have had the best preparation for this tournament of any player. She arrived June 17 and started playing practice rounds last Saturday.
What Wie learned was that she would have to cut back on using her driver, something that goes against her naturally aggressive instincts. She hit two drivers in her second round.
Wie said she knew there was no choice because of the setup of the course, which demands accuracy off the tee, limiting the use of a driver.
"Oh, I'd rather go to a golf course where it's like about 100 yards wide and I can hit driver all the time," she said, "but I accept the fact that [hitting] fairways is good and [it's about hitting] fairways and greens here."
As for Sorenstam, at the halfway point of the Open and a shot at a Grand Slam at stake, she said her timing about the way it's going right now isn't great.
"You get frustrated that it's happening this week, but it's just the first two rounds," she said. "Anything can happen."
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.