-- Defending champion Annika Sorenstam opened her second round Saturday with nine straight pars, then took control of the LPGA Championship with a run of four straight birdies and five in a seven-hole stretch at the DuPont Country Club.

Only a three-putt bogey from 40 feet at the l8th hole marred the second-round 67 that allowed Sorenstam to open a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster and Jennifer Rosales in her quest to win the last three major championships of the season.

There's a simple reason for her success: Over the first 36 holes, she's reached 33 greens in regulation and had birdie putts on every hole Saturday.

Sorenstam said she had seven putts from 15 feet or closer on the front nine but insisted she did not get frustrated by missing them all. The course's notoriously bumpy greens will be replaced for the 2005 tournament as part of a major renovation project.

"I kept telling myself I wasn't falling off the board," she said. "I wasn't really frustrated. I just felt if I continued to hit fairways and greens, eventually it will drop . . . I can control my temper. If I get frustrated, I won't make any putts. I know that from experience."

So Sorenstam didn't even grouse about that last three-putt green, including a missed seven-footer for par.

"I'm swinging well, I feel good about my game," she said. "I love that . . . It doesn't feel easy. I grind out there. But I do feel comfortable with my swing right now. I try not to think too much about it."

Inkster: First Things First

Inkster won this title in 1999 and 2000 and has had seven other top 10 finishes here. The Hall of Famer, who had the day's best round at 66 -- 136, clearly has her priorities straight in her 20th full season on the LPGA circuit.

She's missed three of the past four tournaments to stay home in California and take care of family business with her daughters Hayley, 14, and Cori, 10.

"My oldest had her confirmation one week, and then she had a graduation another week, and my youngest one was doing softball," she said. "At the end of the [school] year, they've got stuff going on."

Inkster will have plenty going on Sunday, when she and the remaining 79 players in the field who made the cut of 4-over 146 will play 36 holes to determine the 2004 champion.

"Even though it's Sunday, you've got to treat it like a Saturday," Inkster said. "You can't get too up or too down. You've got to warm up the same as you do on the range and just play your game, don't try to birdie the first four holes or whatever.

"A lot of pars out here are good. You can get caught up with bogeying the first four holes. All of a sudden you're panicking and pressing and you realize you have 33 or 34 holes to play."

36 Today

This year's tournament is not the first LPGA major to necessitate 36 holes on Sunday.

From 1953 to '64, the U.S. Golf Association had a 36-hole Sunday finish for the U.S. Women's Open and the 1990 Open featured 36 holes on Sunday after a rainout on Saturday. Betsy King won that event at the Atlanta Athletic Club. . . .

Hall of Fame player Nancy Lopez shot 80 -- 155 Saturday and missed the cut, as did Kris Tschetter of McLean, who posted 79 -- 152. . . .

Bethesda native Kim Williams made the cut with 74 -- 145.

Annika Sorenstam finishes the rain-delayed second round at 7-under-par 135, after reaching 34 of 36 greens in regulation, 18 of 18 yesterday.