Park Out Front as Storms Roll In

By Associated PressJune 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- It looks as if Cristie Kerr has Angela Park right where she wants her.
 
Just like last year at Pine Needles, Kerr trails Park heading into the weekend at the U.S. Womens Open. The margin is much slimmer this time, and Kerr is playing with the swagger of a defending major champion.
 
Kerr made six birdies on her way to a 3-under 70 at Interlachen on Friday and she trails Park by just two strokes heading into the third round.
 
Ive just got to take out of this that Im in position again and I have that fire, Kerr said. Ive got it.
 
Park shot 6-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Finlands Minea Blomqvist, In-Bee Park and Helen Alfredsson and again claim the Open lead after 36 holes. Last year at Pine Needles, Angela Park held a six-stroke lead over Kerr after two rounds, but fell off over the final 36 holes to finish in fifth.
 
This time around, Angela Park coupled a smooth putting stroke with that sweet swing of hers to take control early and get off the course before rain and lightning delayed action for 2 1/2 hours.
 
I had a couple of long putts, the eagle putt and a couple birdie putts, Angela Park said of her 30-foot eagle putt on No. 2 to go with five birdies on the round. But I hit good putts, so like Tiger says, get the speed right and they will drop.
 
Putting was a problem for plenty of players throughout the day. Annika Sorenstam needed 33 putts for the second straight round, missed a 5-footer for eagle on No. 18. But she still shot 3-under 70 to remain five strokes back in the final U.S. Open of her career.
 
I think Im hitting the ball as good as I can, Sorenstam said. Im just going to work on a few things with my putter, and Im really looking forward to the weekend. It has to do with tempo, it has to do with the length of my back swing. It just takes awhile to get that.
 
Lorena Ochoa missed three birdie putts on her final four holes for a 74 and is 1 over for the tournament.
 
I would like to be in better position but I think that it was a tough day for me today, Ochoa said. I actually was very glad for the rain delay because after No. 3, I was really frustrated and it seemed like nothing was going my way. I needed some time to relax and just get away a little bit.
 
Kerr got rolling toward her first major championship at Pine Needles with a 66 in the third round. But the fiery American didnt wait that long to get going this time.
 
Wearing black shoes with no visible socks'a la Mike Tyson'Kerr attacked the course after the rain delay, barking at her ball in her trademark style and building some momentum as the evening wore on.
 
She is brimming with confidence after ending an 0-for-41 streak in majors last year and appears to have captured that winning attitude again this week.
 
The feeling I have inside my head and heart, she said when asked about the similarities between this year and last. The ability I have right now to get it done. So its not pressure on myself. Its just nice to have that feeling.
 
The 36 players who failed to finish before darkness included Michelle Wie, who tried to rally from an 81 but made bogeys she couldnt afford after the rain delay. She was 2 over for the round, 10 over for the tournament, and had to return Saturday to play one hole.
 
The cut was assured of being 4-over 150 because of the 10-stroke rule at the U.S. Womens Open.
 
Kerr was at 4-under 142 along with former Womens British Open champion Jeong Jang (69), Paula Creamer (72) and Candie Kung (72). Two emerging stars were another shot back, including the fiery Maria Jose Uribe of Colombia, the U.S. Womens Amateur champion who just finished her freshman year at UCLA. Playing with Ochoa and Kerr, getting the loudest cheers, Uribe shot 74.
 
Stacy Lewis, who went 5-0 at the Curtis Cup at St. Andrews and turned pro the day she qualified for the Open, made a birdie on her final hole for a 70 and also was only three shots behind.
 
This golf course and Pine Needles just turn my switch on, Kerr said. Thats the only way I can describe it.
 
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