Annika Ups Lead to Five at Nabisco


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Annika Sorenstam kicked it into high gear on Saturday with a 6-under 66 to open a five-shot lead through three rounds of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Sorenstam, who is trying to win this event for the third time, finished at 11-under-par 205.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is one round away from her fifth straight victory.
Rosie Jones, who shared the 36-hole lead with Sorenstam, managed a 1-under 71 to finish alone in second place at 6-under-par 210. Cristie Kerr and Mi Hyun Kim were two shots further back at 4-under-par 212.
Sorenstam played herself out of this event last year, but the top player in the world has been on fire this season and the momentum has carried into Mission Hills Country Club. A win on Sunday would give her five victories in her last five starts. Nancy Lopez is the only player to accomplish this feat to date.
'Tomorrow I want to have a day like I did today,' said Sorenstam. 'I'm going to keep reminding myself there's a long way to go and I don't want to take anything for granted. I'm happy the way I played so far the last three days.'
Sorenstam birdied the par-5 second and made it two in a row with a birdie at the par-4 third. She added back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 seventh to open a four-shot advantage at 9 under par.
At the par-4 12th, Sorenstam knocked her approach inside 13 feet and converted the birdie putt to move to minus-10. She ran a putt from off the green 5 feet past the hole at the 13th, but converted the putt coming back to save par.
Sorenstam played her second shot to 7 feet at the par-4 15th and drained the birdie putt to increase her edge to six strokes. Sorenstam hit her second shot through the green at the 16th and chipped her third from the rough to 8 feet. She rolled in the par putt and added pars on the two remaining holes to give herself a serious lead in search of her eighth major title.
'I like when my plan comes together,' said Sorenstam. 'Every day is a new day, you go out there and play the best you can. You never know what it's going to give you. I'm going to go out there and play my own game. I really don't want to change much.'
While Sorenstam looks to add to her list of major accomplishments, Jones is simply looking to pick up a first. The 45-year-old, a 13-time winner on the LPGA Tour, has never captured a major and time is running out with a planned retirement after this season.
Jones tallied a birdie at the second, but gave that shot back with a bogey at the very next hole. She countered with a birdie at the sixth, but found trouble again with a bogey at the par-3 eighth.
Jones ran home a 16-foot putt for a birdie at the par-5 11th to reach 6 under. She stumbled to a bogey at the par-4 13th, however, but converted a 15-footer for a birdie at the last to finish within five of Sorenstam.
'I was not happy with the way I hit it,' said Jones. 'I wasn't really comfortable all day with my execution and my putting was okay. On the opposite, Annika executed everything.'
Kerr had a birdie and a bogey over her first nine holes to make the turn at 2 under. She picked up a birdie at the 11th and kept on rolling with birdies at 13 and 15. Kerr struggled to a bogey at the par-3 17th and parred the last for her second straight round of 70.
Kim mixed two birdies with two bogeys for a round of 72 to join Kerr in a tie for third.
Laura Davies, Beth Daniel, Laura Diaz, Kim Saiki, Brandie Burton, Reilley Rankin and amateur Morgan Pressel share fifth place at 1-under-par 215.
Natalie Gulbis, Juli Inkster, Dorothy Delasin, Hee-Won Han, Lorie Kane, Dorothy Delasin, Wendy Doolan, Young Kim and amateur Julieta Granada followed at even-par 216.
Amateur sensation Michelle Wie, who has finished in the top 10 at this event in each of the last two years, collected two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine. The 15-year-old left an eagle try on the edge of the hole at the par-5 11th, but walked away with a birdie.
Wie then birdied the 12th and landed her second shot inside 6 feet at the 13th to make it three in a row. Wie's round came apart down the stretch, however, with a bogey at the 15th and another bogey at the 17th. Things got even worse on the closing hole and Wie completed her day with a double bogey.
She was joined by Se Ri Pak and defending champion Grace Park at 1-over-par 217.
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