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Inkster Claims Narrow Lead at ShopRite

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GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Juli Inkster birdied her final four holes Saturday to shoot a 4-under 67 and take the 36-hole lead at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Her two-day total of 10-under-par 130 gives Inkster a one-shot lead over Kate Golden, who struggled down the stretch in the second round.
 
Pat Hurst fired a 6-under 65 Saturday and is alone in third place at 8-under-par 134. Annika Sorenstam and Lorie Kane share fourth place at minus 7.
 
Inkster clawed her way back into the tournament with an 18-foot birdie at the 13th and a 12-footer on 15 to reach 7-under-par. When Inkster and Golden each birdied the 16th hole, Golden owned a three-shot lead over Inkster as the players reached 17.
 
Golden was in between clubs in the fairway, and just as she committed to a club, the wind shifted and caused her approach to sail over the green. Her chip only went a few feet and then she blasted her fourth 20 feet past the hole. Golden double bogeyed the hole to fall to 9-under-par. Inkster wedged her second to four feet at 17 and converted the birdie putt to complete the three-shot swing and match Golden at 9-under for the tournament.
 
'When I hit it I thought it was okay and then when I looked up at it and the people started to separate, you know that is not a good sign,' said Golden, referring to her shot to the 17th. 'I am fine. It is only three days and at the end you have to total it up and I hope to have a good one tomorrow.'
 
Golden made par at No. 18 to shoot a 69 while Inkster roped a five-wood to 30 feet at the par-5 closing hole at the Seaview Marriott Resort's Bay Course. Inkster two-putted for the birdie and will now look for her third win at this event.
 
'I like being there. If you're in the last group then it means I'm leading or close by. The last group is always tougher because all expectations,' said Inkster, who won this year's Chick-fil-A Charity Championship. 'A lot of people are in striking distance. I cannot play conservative tomorrow. I have to play more aggressive.'
 
One player that is lurking close behind is Sorenstam, already a six-time winner this season.
 
'I'm not playing with her, and I cannot control what she does,' said Inkster. 'She probably feels she is right there. I have to play own game, and make birdies.'
 
'I feel good about it and I am very comfortable,' said Sorenstam, who shot a second-round 67. 'This is where I want to be. I will be nervous tomorrow, but I think the fact of the matter is that I know how I react in these situations because I have been there and I have been in the lead before and I have come from behind before and you still have to play and hope not to break momentum. I have to shoot a low score.'
 
Nanci Bowen, Stephanie Keever and Jenny Lidback are tied for sixth at 6-under-par 136.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 1-over-par 143 and Dottie Pepper fell casualty to the cut. Pepper missed all of this season due to shoulder surgery and posted a pair of 4-over 75s to finish at plus 8.
 
Full-field scores from the ShopRite LPGA Classic