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SORENSTAM'S PUTT SETS UP RICH FINAL DAY

Annika Sorenstam calmly sank a short birdie putt on the ninth hole, earning a hug from Tiger Woods. More importantly, it kept $250,000 in play in the Skins Game.

"I was glad to make it when I really needed to," said Sorenstam, the LPGA star who otherwise struggled Saturday against the longer-hitting men in her second straight Skins Game.

Woods and Fred Couples, the grand master of the skins format, were happy, too. Adam Scott, a young Aussie making his Skins Game debut, would have taken that $250,000 and swept Saturday's skins if Sorenstam hadn't made the putt from about 4 feet.

Instead, the money will carry over and the first hole on today (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7) will be worth $300,000.

Scott did win $50,000 and two skins by sinking a 40-foot putt on the par-4, 415-yard second hole. After that, neither he nor the more-famous members of the foursome could break through on the next seven holes of the made-for-TV tournament.

"Tomorrow, like Adam made the one on No. 2, that can easily happen on the 10th hole, and somebody's going to be way, way ahead of the game," said Couples, a four-time winner who's playing in his 11th Skins Game.

"That's what I'm shooting for."

The four will be playing for a total of $950,000 during the final nine holes at Trilogy Golf Club -- and it could be cold and windy when they tee off at 8:30 a.m.

Scott birdied the par-5, 500-yard ninth, meaning someone had to tie him for the $250,000 to carry over to today. It wasn't going to be Couples, who drove into the rough and then two-putted for par.

Woods' birdie putt from about 6 feet lipped out -- nothing new for him during the round -- before Sorenstam sank her putt to halve the hole.

"I should've made things a little bit easier for Annika on the last hole, but kind of blew that one," said Woods, who is playing against Sorenstam for the first time. "But I had my chances today to get a couple skins and just couldn't do it."

Scott, a 24-year-old who won The Players Championship in March, was just glad he won't get shut out in his first Merrill Lynch Skins Game.

"It was a bit of a surprise to drop it in there from about 40 feet," he said.

"It got a little exciting on the ninth there, but the rock over here just rolled it in no problem at all," he said, referring to Sorenstam. "We're going to start off tomorrow with a big 10th hole."

Last year, Sorenstam holed a memorable 39-yard bunker shot on the ninth to win $175,000. This year, the nines have been flipped at Trilogy.

Scott's two skins were the fewest won on the first day in the 22-year tournament history.

Couples, the defending champion, and Woods, who has a miserable Skins Game record, both had great chances to win skins.

Couples, who's won a record $2,875,000 and 66 skins in 10 previous appearances, could have won $200,000 and six skins on the par-3, 234-yard eighth hole. He curled a 15-foot putt just in front of the cup then said, "Come on!"

Woods left his 12-foot putt short on the same hole. "Interesting," he said.

Woods had won only nine skins and $225,000 in his previous four Skins Games appearances, and his bad luck continued on the early holes.

His putts hit the cup on Nos. 1, 2 and 4, but didn't fall.

With a chance to win two skins and $50,000 on the par-4, 434-yard No. 4, Woods' 12-foot putt brushed the right edge of the cup and rolled a foot past.

With his left hand on his hip and a disgusted look on his face, he said: "You've got to be kidding me."

Woods and Couples both put their tee shots within 4 feet of the cup on the par-3, 173-yard sixth and made short putts to halve the hole.

"I finally made one," Woods said.

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