A second-round score of 66 allowed Annika Sorenstam to move within striking distance of leader Jeong Jang.
Top players gain ground on leader at Fields Open
Jang hanging on entering final day
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About the only person who didn't take advantage of the ideal conditions during yesterday's second round of the $1.3 million Fields Open at Ko Olina was Michelle Wie. The Stanford University freshman shot a 1-over 73 to drift down the leaderboard entering today's final round.
The South Korean connection of Jeong Jang and Song-Hee Kim proved more formidable, as Jang moved to the top with a 68 for a two-day total of 12-under 132. Kim countered with an 8-under 64 to stay close at 133.
Jang opened the tournament with a 64 on Thursday to equal the tournament mark first recorded by Lorena Ochoa in 2006. American Paula Creamer is another shot back at 10-under 134 after she carded a 68 yesterday to be in the final group with Jang and Kim.
There were 74 golfers who shot even par or better through the opening 36 holes to make the cut. Most in that group landed in red numbers as 56 golfers shot 1 under or better for their second round.
Annika Sorenstam moved to the first page of the leaderboard with a 66 that left her 8 under for the tournament and in a tie for fifth with Americans Angela Stanford and Kelli Kuehne. There are a dozen golfers within five shots of the lead.
Jang hasn't won since capturing her second tournament in 2006 at the Wegman's. She also captured the 2005 British Women's Open and said she would be nervous today.
"Of course, of course," Jang said. "I think so because I want it and I've been waiting (a) long, long time."
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Song-Hee Kim had yesterday's best round, a 64 that vaulted her into second place, a stroke back.
Jeong Jang was back at the hotel with her spikes up by the time the afternoon contingent put the clubs away.
After opening with an 8-under 64 during a dreaded afternoon round on Thursday, yesterday she had an early-morning draw and figured to put some distance between herself and the rest of the field.
And while her 4-under 68 was a little disappointing when compared to the course record she equaled over the opening 18 holes, Jang's 12-under 132 left her one shot clear of fellow South Korean Song-Hee Kim entering today's final round of the $1.3 million Fields Open at Ko Olina.
"I was a little disappointed with my chipping," said Jang, who carded seven birdies and three bogeys. "The chipping was really hard (around) the green; like (I'm) supposed to make like par from there, but I didn't make like the easy pars. (My) putting is going really well, so I think I'm going to be in a good position."
Kim, the Futures Tour's player of the year in 2006, is in a good position as well. She is the second golfer this week to equal Lorena Ochoa's course mark of 64 set two years ago. Kim's bogey-free round included eight birdies -- five on the front and three on the back -- to drop her to 11-under 133 for the week.
"Last year, I was (a) beginner," Kim said through a translator. "(My) score was not really bad, not really good. This year, this time, I'm scoring good. (This) last winter, I went to (the) gym and then exercised and now I'm feeling strong."
Paula Creamer, who was feeling ill last week, had another strong round yesterday. She was one of only a few players teeing it up in the afternoon to climb into contention with a 4-under 68 that left her only two shots off the pace at 10-under 134.
The 2007 winner of the SBS Open had a bit of a relapse yesterday, and it showed early after Creamer opened 1 over through four holes. She is dreading that long flight to Singapore for next week's inaugural event, but conceded the trip would be a lot shorter if she won her second tournament in Hawaii in as many years.
"I'm looking forward to playing in one of the lead groups, which is nice to get back into," Creamer said. "But I started off kind of shaky. I just never really hit many good shots the first couple of holes, and I kind of found my ground after the birdie on five.
"I wanted to get to about 11 or 12 under. There was one point where I said 10, 11 is good, and then the last couple of holes finishing I wanted to get closer to her (Jang)."
Australian Lindsey Wright, who went into last week's final round of the SBS Open trailing only by two, put herself in a similar spot with a 6-under 66 yesterday and is alone in fourth. Annika Sorenstam (66), Minea Blomqvist (65) and Americans Angela Stanford (69) and Kelli Kuehne (69) round out the top five at 8-under 136.
Blomqvist went as low as 8 under for her round, before a bogey at the seventh (her 16th) did her in. She would have been the third person this week to equal Ochoa's tournament record. Sorenstam had a sizzling back nine yesterday to put herself among the leaders after winning last week's SBS Open.
She birdied four of the last six to shoot 32 on the back. Her bogey-free round included six birdies, so you can't count her out just yet. Sorenstam recently went to No. 2 in the world, and considering how forgiving the par-72 Ko Olina Resort course has been in calm conditions this week, whoever wins will have to go low.
Kuehne joined the elite set with an eagle at the par-4 18th. It is her second eagle in as may weeks. She used an 8-iron from 144 yards to shoot herself back into contention.
A total of 74 golfers shot even par or better to play through to today. During yesterday's round, 56 players had rounds in the red. Michelle Wie was one of the few not among them. She sprayed the ball all over the place to shoot a less-than-titillating round of 1-over 73 to finish at 2-under 142 for the tournament, currently tied for 41st.