SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - U.S. Solheim Cup player Sherri Steinhauer shot a 5-under 67 in windy conditions Thursday 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. 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 with Solheim out there today, and we're just really looking forward to the competition,' said the 44-year-old Steinhauer, making her 20th appearance in the tournament.
Sorenstam, the winner last year at the Rail Golf Club, had two birdies and a bogey in a round of 71.
'I think I played really well today,' Sorenstam said. 'I hit 16 greens and didn't miss any fairways, so I think I played very, very solid. I had a lot of chances and had a lot of looks out there. If that is any indication of how I'm going to play the next few months I'm happy about it.'
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, while Sophie Gustafson and Women's World Match Play winner Seon Hwa Lee topped a large group at 70.
Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa is skipping the tournament.
NEW EVENT: HSBC added an LPGA Tour-sanctioned stroke-play event to its golf lineup Thursday, launching the HSBC Women's Champions. The tournament will be played Feb. 28-March 2 at Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore. With a $2 million purse and $300,000 top prize, the tournament will be the richest women's golf event in Asia.
PGA EUROPEAN: Marc Warren made eight birdies for an 8-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead in the first round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, Scotland.