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Sorenstam recharged, ready to light it up

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She spent time on her boat. Messed around the house. Went to the dentist. Swam with the dolphins at Discovery Cove, a tourist attraction near her Orlando home.

Annika Sorenstam also flew to her native Sweden and won her own tournament, The Scandinavian TPC hosted by Annika, beating Natalie Gulbis by one stroke with a birdie on the 72nd hole.

Sorenstam's hiatus ends today at the Wendy's Championship for Children, where she'll try to stop an LPGA tour 0-for-4 streak after winning six of her first eight tournaments this season.

"I just needed some time to relax and kind of recharge my batteries," she said at Tartan Fields Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. "It's been a long summer."

A two-week break in the LPGA tour schedule allowed Sorenstam to take a vacation in which she didn't swing a club. She admits her chase of the Grand Slam, which ended in a tie for 23rd at the U.S. Women's Open after she won the first two legs, had worn on her.

Since her final-round 77 in the U.S. Open, Sorenstam struggled at the HSBC Women's World Match Play, losing in the quarterfinals, finished 12th at the Evian Masters and tied for fifth at the Weetabix Women's British Open.

Still, with two more victories, she can match her second-best career total of eight, accomplished in 2001 and last year. Sorenstam's greatest season was 2002, when she won 11 of 23 events and a record $2.864million.

"I was a little bummed after the U.S. Open," she said. "The first eight tournaments I played really well. And, you know, maybe not as solid this summer, but winning (in) Sweden was important for me. So I'm looking at the rest of the season, hoping to continue playing like this and finish the way I started. That would be great. Then I'd rank it up there for sure."

To do so, Sorenstam must continue to turn back challenges from a pack of young stars led by rookie Paula Creamer, 19, who's second to Sorenstam on the money list. Creamer notched two LPGA victories and recently won in Japan.

Sorenstam also must contend with a stream of talented South Korean players that includes first-time winners of the last two LPGA tour events: Jeong Jang at the British Open and Soo-Yun Kang in last week's Safeway Classic.

"You just referred to me as a veteran and old," said Sorenstam, who turns 35 on Oct.9, when asked whether she's been motivated by the rising young players. "This generation of young girls is not new. I mean, we've been having these young players come up, like Lorena (Ochoa), Natalie (Gulbis), and so forth. This is something that happens every year. You get a new, fresh face.

"So the only thing I've got to do is, if I want to stay competitive, I'm going to continue to play really hard and push myself. Otherwise, somebody else will take my spot."

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