Kang Leads Big Asian Contingent


2005 Safeway ClassicPORTLAND, Ore. -- South Korea's Soo-Yun Kang moved into position for her first victory in three full seasons on the LPGA Tour, shooting a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway Classic.
Kang, a co-leader with Sung Ah Yim after a first-round 64, has a 12-under 132 total. Gloria Park and British Open winner Jeong Jang were 9 under.
``I missed a few putts but I feel so great,'' Kang said as she came off the sunsplashed course at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
Kang was in nearly the same place at the other Safeway -- the Safeway International back in March. Kang was a shot back of Lorena Ochoa going into the final round.
Kang tied for third with Juli Inkster at Superstition Mountain Country Club, for her best result of the season. Annika Sorenstam won it in a playoff with Ochoa.
Wearing bright yellow pants and butterfly clips in her hair, Kang saved par on No. 18 with a well-placed chip out of a sand trap. She eagled the par-4 15th hole, but bogeyed No. 17.
``I'm really satisfied about my golf today, and I'm really confident,'' she said.
Because of scheduling conflicts, Sorenstam wasn't among those playing the 6,327-yard course. She won the 2002 and 2003 tournaments.
Park also had a second-round 68 despite tendinitis and tennis elbow. With a 25-foot putt, Jang birdied her final hole, the par-4 ninth, to also finish with a 68.
``That was the first long putt today,'' Jang said. ``Good finish going into tomorrow.''
Aree Song, four strokes back with defending champion Hee-Won Han, gained briefly on Kang, but was done in by a double bogey on the par-4 14th hole, and a bogey on No. 17. Yim was in a group five shots back.
Veteran Rose Jones, who says she'll retire at the end of the year, was at 6 under in a group that included Natalie Gulbis (71). After a 65 on Friday, Jones had a 1-over 73 on Saturday.
The 45-year-old Jones got to 9 under starting on the back nine, but ran into trouble on No. 18, hitting into the water and settling for a double bogey before making the turn.
``My day was kind of rotten,'' Jones said. ``I had some swing flaws to start, paid for it on 18 and never recovered from that.''
The Portland event is one of six full-field events remaining on the LPGA Tour schedule and one of two tournaments before the U.S. Solheim Cup team is named.
The official word will come Aug. 28 after the Wendy's Championship in Dublin, Ohio. Cristie Kerr leads the standings, followed by veterans Meg Mallon and Inkster. Jones is fourth, while rookie Paula Creamer ranks eighth.
The top 10 players qualify for the team, and captain Nancy Lopez gets two additional choices.
Last year, Han birdied the 18th hole at Columbia Edgewater to pull even with Canadian Lorie Kane, then birdied the hole again to win the playoff for her third LPGA title.
The field of 144 included 23-year-old Birdie Kim, the South Korean who halted Sorenstam's Grand Slam bid by winning the U.S. Women's Open.
Seventy-five players were at 1 over or better to make the cut when play concluded Saturday evening. Among those who didn't make it were Kerr and Carin Koch, as well as amateur Rebecca Kim of Tigard, Ore.
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