Sorenstam Staying in the Hunt

By Sports NetworkMarch 29, 2003, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Patricia Meunier-Lebouc carded a 2-under 70 to extend her lead after the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship Saturday. Meunier-Lebouc's 54-hole total of 8-under-par 208 puts her three shots ahead of two-time defending champion Annika Sorenstam.
Meunier-Lebouc, who is looking for her second career victory on the LPGA Tour at the season's first major, brought a two-shot lead into Saturday's round.
She tallied two birdies over the first nine holes and drained a nine-foot putt for a birdie at the 11th.
At the par-4 12th, Meunier-Lebouc landed her approach within four feet of the cup for another birdie to reach 10-under.
She struggled down the stretch with back-to-back bogeys starting at the 16th but managed to build a comfortable margin with one round to play on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club.
'It's going to be the best experience of my life,' said Meunier-Lebouc. 'It's getting better every day, playing with Annika a lot of times, and playing with her the last day of the first major of the year, is unbelievable.'
Sorenstam hit a 9-iron to eight feet for a birdie at the first but struggled with a two-putt bogey at the par-3 fifth. She recovered quickly with a birdie at the sixth but found trouble again on the green with a bogey at the eighth.
The Swede picked up steam with a birdie at the 12th and knocked her second shot within inches at the 13th. Sorenstam tapped in for birdie but stumbled with a bogey at the 16th for a round of 71.
'I've been here before, I've been in this position,' said Sorenstam. 'I have a chance to finish it up tomorrow. I'm excited about that. It's been three long days, but I'm right where I want to be, and playing with Patricia again, so I'm looking forward to a good Sunday.'
Sorenstam can become the first player to win this event in three consecutive seasons.
'I know what this championship means,' said Sorenstam. 'Patricia hasn't won a major. She might be hungry, but I'm starving, so I'm just going to go out there tomorrow and do the best I can.'
Michelle Wie finished alone in third at 4-under-par 212. The 13-year-old fired a flawless 66 to match the low mark for an amateur at this event.
'I really shot good today, and I was really proud of myself,' said Wie. 'But I didn't even know what I was shooting, I thought I had to make one more birdie and I kept on going.'
Wie torched the front nine with four birdies and dropped her second shot inside three feet for a birdie at the 10th. At the par-5 11th, Wie chipped her third shot to seven feet for her sixth birdie of the day.
She had several birdie chances down the stretch but failed to convert on numerous occasions. At the par-5 last, Wie had four feet for a birdie and the chance to set a new amateur record at this event, but she missed the putt.
Wie, who is one year away from High School, will now play alongside the top player in the game in the final group of an LPGA major.
'I don't really put pressure on myself, but it's just the game,' said Wie. 'You just have to hit the ball good, putt well, chip well, everything. It's just a game.'
Laura Davies and Se Ri Pak, who could both complete the career Grand Slam with a victory at this event, finished tied for fourth at 2-under-par 214.
Juli Inkster, a two-time winner of this event, matched Wie for low score of the week with a 6-under 66. Inkster was joined by LPGA Tour rookie Lorena Ochoa at 1-under-par 215.
Laura Diaz and Jenny Rosales were one shot further back at even-par 216.
Beth Daniel shot a four-under 68 to finish in a tie for 10th at 1-over-par 217 along with Maria Hjorth, Catriona Matthew and Woo-Soon Ko.
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • Full coverage of the Kraft Nabisco Championship
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