Sorenstam Moves Three Clear at Evian

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2004 Evian MastersEVIAN-LES-BAINS, France -- Annika Sorenstam, the 2000 and 2002 winner here, fired a bogey-free, 7-under 65 in the third round Friday to move three strokes clear of the field at the Evian Masters.
 
Sorenstam completed three rounds at 16-under-par 200, which tied the 54-hole scoring mark she set 2002.
 
Karen Stupples, who led after two rounds, managed a 3-under 69 to move to 13-under-par 203. Lorena Ochoa, the 2003 Rookie of the Year, posted a 5-under 67 and stands one stroke behind Stupples at minus-12. Wendy Doolan carded her third straight round in the 60s to move into fourth place at 11-under-par 205.
 
Sorenstam opened with a birdie at the first, as she did on Thursday. She parred the next four holes before sinking a 16-foot birdie putt at the sixth that moved her to 11 under.
 
The Swede came right back with a two-putt birdie the par-5 seventh for the third straight round. Sorenstam birdied the 10th and 11th at Evian Masters Golf Club to jump to minus-14 and into the lead.
 
Sorenstam, who will defend her crown at the Women's British Open next week. rolled home a short birdie putt at the par-3 14th. She parred her next three holes.
 
Despite finding the rough off the tee at the par-5 18th, Sorenstam pitched her second shot down the fairway from a bad lie. She nearly holed her 7-iron third shot setting up a tap-in birdie to close three shots clear of the field.
 
'It moved 74 yards,' said Sorenstam of her second shot on the 18th. 'I had a really bad lie. The rough may not seem that tall, but with all rain it grabs my club. I hit a 9-iron and only advanced it a little bit.'
 
Sorenstam, a six-time Solheim Cup performer, will shoot for win No. 53 on Saturday.
 
'What else can I say. I'm very happy I got off to good start and played very solid throughout the day,' Sorenstam said. 'I hit a lot of good iron shots, and made few mistakes. I didn't drop a shot.'
 
Stupples opened her round with five consecutive pars. She then birdied the par-4 sixth for the first time in three rounds to move to 11 under. From there, Stupples ran off four more pars in a row.
 
At the 11th, Stupples rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt, but stumbled to a bogey at the very next hole. Stupples closed with a flourish as she birdied each of the final two holes to get within three of Sorenstam.
 
'I didn't really feel my best today,' Stupples said. 'For me to be 3 under I'm really happy with that. It was a bit of a struggle. I was relieved to see my ball go in 17 when I chipped in and happy with birdie on 18.'
 
Sorenstam, who began one shot behind Stupples, seems to have Stupples' number.
 
'Annika does it to me every time. The difference this time is at least we have another day tomorrow,' said Stupples. 'She capitalized on the par-5s and hit some great golf shots even when she got into trouble. You can't gripe with someone shooting 7 under par. Even when there was a glimmer of hope for me on 18, she came back. She is the No. 1 player in the world.'
 
Laura Davies, the first-round leader, posted an even-par 72. She stands alone in fifth place at 9-under-par 207. Rosie Jones, Carin Koch and Suzann Pettersen share sixth place at minus-8. Gloria Park and Marta Prieto are one stroke further back at 7-under-par 209.
 
Juli Inkster, the defending champion, used a 5-under 67 to move into a tie for 11th place at 6-under-par 210.
 
Amateur sensation Michelle Wie struggled mightily during round three. She posted a 4-over 76 to slide into a tie for 40th place at 2-over-par 218.
 
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