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Rested Sorenstam ready to win

Her homeland counts four victories this year on the LPGA Tour, and if there is an upset there, it's that Annika Sorenstam didn't claim any of them.

Among the latest and greatest of the gang of Swedish golfers, Sorenstam, the LPGA's reigning Player of the Year, is holding at zero wins in 1998.

Of course, she has played in just six tournaments and finished among the top 10 in all of them.

But when you're coming off a season in which you won six times, earned an LPGA record $1,236,789 and finished No. 1 on the money list, it is impossible not to compare this year with last, when she had three victories by this time.

"My goal is to always be consistent, so it's hard to complain," said Sorenstam, who begins play today in the $1-million Titleholders Championship at LPGA International. "I wish everything would come together in one week. I'm knocking on the door. I have to keep doing this. If I finish in the top 10 all year, I'd be happy. Obviously, winning is on my mind."

The task becomes tougher this week, where 48 of the top 50 money winners are playing in the LPGA's version of The Players Championship. This is the tour's tournament, on its home course, and pays one of the biggest purses of the year, with $150,000 going to the winner.

Sorenstam, 27, has 12 LPGA titles in her brief career, half coming last year when she also had four runner-up finishes and was in the top 10 in two majors.

Putting together such a year, however, takes its toll, which might be why Sorenstam is off to a slow start by her standards. She skipped this year's first two tournaments to give herself more time, and took off three weeks in a row before beginning a busy stretch of four straight tournaments.

She spent some time skiing and snowboarding near her U.S. home of Lake Tahoe, Nev.

"I've found that to keep up the pace we keep out here, you need to take some breaks," Sorenstam said. "I want to see if I can achieve my goals in a different way. So far, I'm really happy with the way I've played. I leave the course and have a lot of energy. That's what I want to have all year. Then, hopefully, I won't need a break at the beginning of '99."

Despite the rest, Sorenstam is sixth on the money list with $206,604. Her worst finish is a tie for seventh at the Dinah Shore, and 17 of her 21 rounds have been under par. She is third in scoring average (70.24) and fourth in greens in regulation (.733).

"I've always been a person who wants to improve every year," said Sorenstam, who won the U.S. Women's Open in 1995 and '96. "I want to do something better for the next year. It's hard to say I want to win 10 or 11 tournaments. It gets harder and harder.

"So I try to have a different attitude on the course. I try and get away from counting victories and top 10s. I want to go out and have a good time and enjoy myself. I'm so competitive, it's hard not to think of results. But it's worn me down a little bit."

This would be a good week for Sorenstam to find her groove. The Titleholdersstarts a big stretch of golf, including the year's second major in two weeks, the LPGA Championship.

"Last year, I finished second (behind Tammie Green)," Sorenstam said. "I've been climbing the leaderboard here. I hope to climb one more step this year."

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