[ GOLF ]

Wie in ninth after
third round

Annika Sorenstam still leads the
LPGA Tour event at minus-16;
Wie is at 7-under 209

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. >> Annika Sorenstam had a great start and a good finish to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway International.

Sorenstam, in her LPGA Tour season debut, chipped in from 60 feet for an eagle on the second hole, then finished the third round yesterday with a pair of birdies for a 4-under 68 that left her at 16-under 200.

"I'm definitely in a spot where I want to be," Sorenstam said. "I've got to play well tomorrow, but leading going into the last day is what you want. Hopefully I'll shoot in the 60s tomorrow and feel really good."

Nineeteen-year-old tour rookie Shi Hyun Ahn shot a 66 and was two strokes back at 14-under 202 on the 6,620-yard layout at the Superstition Mountain Golf Club 50 miles east of Phoenix.

Michelle Wie kept up her impressive play with a 70. Of the 82 players who made Friday's cut, the 14-year-old sensation was ninth overall at 7-under 209. Her previous best finish in 11 LPGA events was a tie for eighth at last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship.

"I think today was the hardest round of my three rounds," she said. "I didn't really hit my drivers and my irons that good today, and I had the worst lies."

Still, Wie had three birdies and only one bogey in the round.

"I guess I'm a little bit tired," she said. "I haven't played in a tournament for a long time and I haven't been exercising in a week. I'm a little bit worn down, but I'm still ready to go tomorrow."

Cristie Kerr, who began the day one shot behind the second-round leader Sorenstam, shot a 70 and was three back at 13-under 203. Kerr was right with Sorenstam until knocking her tee shot into the water on the par-5, 508-yard 18th.

"I don't think I've ever hit a shot that far left in my life," Kerr said. "I just started laughing at myself."

Defending champion Se Ri Pak, Laura Davies, Grace Park and Lorena Ochoa were at 11-under 205, five shots behind the leader.

It is the fourth consecutive year that Sorenstam -- coming off a victory three weeks ago in the ANZ Masters in Australia -- has led going into the final round of the Phoenix stop.

She won in 2001, when she set a tour record with a third-round 59 at the Moon Valley Golf Club in north Phoenix. But she couldn't hold the lead the last two years.

Sorenstam fell into a tie with Kerr at 13-under with only her second bogey of the tournament, on the par-3, 195-yard 12th hole. That's when Sorenstam intensified her approach.

"It came to a point where I'd just had enough," she said. "I mean, the bogey on the 12th and my first shot on 13, I said, 'Well, this is it. I've got to turn this around.' "

She sank a 12-footer for birdie to regain sole possession of the lead on the par-4, 310-yard 14th. She made a 13-footer for birdie on the par-3 167-yard 17th.

She hit a 4-wood over the green with her second shot on the 18th, then chipped to within 5 feet of the cup and made the putt for a birdie.

Ahn, one of 21 South Koreans on the tour, won the CJ Nine Bridges Classic last year, becoming the youngest international winner in LPGA history. It was her first LPGA tournament and she was not an LPGA member at the time.

This year, she said through an interpreter, her goals are to learn English, become familiar with the American culture and make friends among the other golfers. Oh, and she wants to win.

"I want to win the championship," she said. "But I want to do it step by step. First I want Rookie of the Year."

Ahn started the day with a bogey, then birdied the second, and had five birdies on the final 10 holes.

Saturday's toughest finish came from Donna Andrews, who had a triple-bogey 8 on the 18th to go from 9 under to 6 under.


E-mail to Sports Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --