'I do like the heat and I've always felt that it works to my advantage,' said Baena of Pereira, Colombia, who fired a 5-under-par round of 67 today to take the lead at 140 (-4) going into Sunday's final round.
The second-season pro out of the University of Arizona played a bogey-free round that included five birdies and a handful of up-and-down par scrambles. She successfully navigated Lake Forest Golf Club's large and speedy greens and avoided the 6,214-yard course's treacherous fescue rough.
'I hit 14 greens and had 33 putts on Friday, and today, I hit 10 greens and had 23 putts,' said Baena, still seeking her first win on the Futures Tour. 'Golf is so weird. But I know things will eventually come together. It's important to get yourself going on the front nine here.'
Stephanie George of Myerstown, Pa., moved into second at 141 (-3) after carding a 2-under-par round of 70 today. Like so many others, she battled for pars and was grateful to finish the day with four birdies and two bogeys.
'The greens make this course so difficult,' said George, who recorded 30 putts in today's round. 'I three-putted three times yesterday and today, I had numerous putts within 10 feet that were downhill, sidehill or uphill. It's hard to trust how hard to hit it and the greens are speeding up and getting firmer.'
Sarah-Jane Kenyon of Queensland, Australia, had a little steam coming out of her ears when she walked off the 18th green in Friday's first round. Kenyon was four over after 18 holes. But golf history has shown that Queenslanders -- such as the LPGA's Karrie Webb -- are savvy hot-weather players. Kenyon turned her anger into an assault on the course in today's second round. By day's end, the rookie cruised in with a 6-under-par 66 that locked her into a tie with Clarissa Childs (71) of Glendale, Calif., and Kellee Booth (73) of McKinney, Texas -- all tied at 142 (-2).
Kenyon's performance included three birdies, two eagle-2s (on par-four holes) and one bogey. She holed out from a front bunker on the fifth hole for her first eagle, and then holed out from 152 yards with a 7-iron on the 12th hole for the round's second eagle.
'I didn't hit the ball any better or any worse than yesterday, but I had 33 putts yesterday and 25 today, so that was the difference,' said Kenyon, who won the season's second event in Tampa earlier this year.
Booth opened with bogeys on holes three and four, but rebounded with two birdies on the back and a final bogey at the 17th. Still looking for her first win, the former Arizona State University collegian called her day 'sketchy at times and fabulous at times.'
'I'm still in it,' she added. 'Anything is possible out there but it will take some good shots and good putts to win this tournament.'
First-week rookie pro Julieta Granada of Asuncion, Paraguay carded a 3-under-par 69 today to move into a tie with Seon-Hwa Lee of Chonan, Korea at 1-under-par 143. It was a day of misfortune for the Korean, who took the lead on the 11th hole, but lost it on the 15th.
Lee built her lead to three shots with a birdie on the 14th hole, but took a quadruple-bogey on the 15th when her drive landed under a left tree. Lee was forced to turn her club upside down to hit the shot out, but the ball ricocheted off the tree and hit her shoes for a two-shot penalty. As if to make matters worse, after she was forced to call the penalty on herself, the ball was unplayable and she had to add another shot for a drop. One chip and two putts later, Lee had carded an 8 on the par-4 15th hole.
'That hurt,' said Cindy Pasechnik of Calgary, Alberta, who was playing in Lee's group.
Seventy-four players made the 36-hole cut at 151 (+7) in the fifth annual Ann Arbor tournament.
Sunday's final round of the 54-hole event will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at noon.