RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. The defending champion Annika Sorenstam and past champion Karrie Webb join Liselotte Neumann at 4-under-par 212 as co-leaders of the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Sorenstam shot 1-under 71 today while Neumann recorded 1-over. Webb had the best round of the three, recording 5-under-par 67 today.
Once again Conditions were perfect for the first championship of the season and it was no great surprise to see both Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb creep up the leaderboard. Neumanns return to the leaders circle was actually the big surprise of the day. Second round leader Liselotte Neumann blew a two shot lead by the 8th hole.
It was then that Sorenstam pounced.
The fiercely competitive Swede made the turn, tied with Neumann at 3-under, and never looked back. Birdie on the par-4 10th and again on the par-5 11th left Sorenstam the outright leader mid-way through the day.
Neumann spent the first 10-holes of the day throwing away the lead, with bogey after bogey, and spent the final three making it up. Birdie on the par-4 16th and again on the last rectified the damage done earlier in the day. Oh, my God. Im done, she said just after walking off the 18th green. It was a struggle today, especially off the tee. I think I was spending more time with the crowd than I was inside the ropes today.
Finally figured it out in the end and actually started playing some good golf coming in.
The secret to many success stories today was on the greens. The only difference, really from yesterday, to today was that I made a couple more putts, Webb said. Sorenstam also had an easier time of it. I do think I read the greens much better today.
Annika Sorenstam and her caddy both had different sunglasses on today. Sorenstam sported Oakley-20s while she made her caddy wear Read the Green Shades. He didnt take them off all day, She said. That was a standing joke. I said, What does your shades say? It worked pretty good today. So I think hes going to wear them tomorrow, too.
Karrie Webb ' who won this championship two years ago - recorded five birdies during her round. Only one bogey, on the 385-yard, par-4 12th, came off the course with her today when the Aussie missed the fairway left on that shot then launched her approach shot into the greenside bunker. She left herself a 10-foot putt, which she two-putted.
Before the round today, I knew that I needed to at least shoot in the 60s to have a chance tomorrow, Webb said. So I thought if I got to 2- or 3-under, four shots was not going to be that bad.
Webb is excited about playing with Sorenstam in the final group. I think Annika and I both bring the best out in one another, and the fact that ' well, I wanted to make sure I was in that last group. Just because I think part of being in the last group, playing with Annika will help me. The last time the two were paired together in the final round was at the 2000 Evian Masters. Sorenstam defeated Webb in a one-hole playoff that year.
Webb birdied the final hole to move to 4-under. I really didnt want to be in the second to last group because I know I wanted to know what was going on in the last group.
Rosie Jones and Becky Iverson are just a stroke off the lead - tied for second at 3-under-par 213.
Jones took it to 6-under during her round today but was unable to maintain her pace and dropped three strokes on the back nine.
Becky Iverson was one of a handful of players to make big moves up the leaderboard today.
Iverson joined the Tour in 1994. The Michigan native has one career victory - the 1995 Friendlys Classic where she recorded a bogey-free career low round of 63 to win the title. A win this week would be nice but its not a must for the laidback Iverson.
Tomorrow I just want to have a good round and just play my own game and not worry about what anyone else is doing, Iverson said. I dont need to win to be happy.
This is Iversons sixth appearance at the championship. She recorded her best finish of 23rd place last year. This is a tough course for Iverson whose best finish here was in 2001 when she finished 23rd. It doesnt set up for me. I dont draw the ball off the tee and a lot of the holes are set up for a draw.
So this year I decided to his a lot of 3-woods and 5-woods and take a longer shot in, and that seems to help staying out of the rough, staying out of the bunkers, not in the trees as much, all of that bad stuff Ive been in, in years past.
Sorenstam's playing partner Amateur Lorena Ochoa made birdie on the first to move to 1-under and 18-holes later thats where she remained. Two birdies and a lone bogey completed her round of 71. Lorena is the low amateur for the second day in a row. Im very impressed with her game, her attitude and what a nice girl she is, too, Sorenstam said. Even though shes an amateur, she sure doesnt behave like one.
So many great players are just a stroke off the twosomes lead, which should make for some very interesting golf during the final round.