Teske in Front at Nabisco Championship


Australia's Rachel Teske turned in a tournament-low 66 to grab the lead heading into Sunday's final round of the Nabisco Championship. Teske's three-day total of 5-under-par 211 has her one shot up on the second-place trio of Annika Sorenstam, Akiko Fukushima and second-round leader Pat Hurst.
Teske, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, tallied six birdies and no bogeys Saturday to put her in position to win her first major championship.
'I guess today I was focused on playing well because Pat was out there at 6-under,' said Teske, who trailed Hurst by seven shots coming into round three. 'I really had to get out there and play well today. I was really determined to do that.'
Teske climbed back to even for the tournament with a 20-foot birdie putt at the opening hole. She used a 7-wood off the tee and an 8-iron for her approach at the 352-yard 6th, where she sank a six-footer for birdie. She made it two straight birdies with a 15-foot putt at No. 7 and rounded the turn in 3-under 33.
She carried a hot putter over to the second nine, rolling in birdies of 15, six and 20 feet over a four-hole stretch from the 12th to the 15th to vault atop the leaderboard.
Teske, who played as Rachel Hetherington from her rookie year of 1997 through 2000, posted her maiden victory after defeating Sorenstam on the first playoff hole at the 1998 Betsy King Classic. She ran her playoff record to 2-0 with a win over Lorie Kane in the 1999 Chick- fil-A Charity Championship, then captured a title in regulation the following week at the Myrtle Beach Classic.
She recorded two runner-up finishes in 2000, including a loss to Sorenstam on the second hole of sudden death at the Kroger Classic.
Teske twice tied for 16th at the du Maurier Classic, her highest finish in a major, while her best showing at the Nabisco was a tie for 21st in 1999. She'll have history on her side on Sunday, however, as 14 of the last 18 third-round leaders have gone on to victory here at Mission Hills Country Club.
'I really feel since the off-season, this is the one tournament where I really wanted to play well,' she said. 'I feel this year I want to play better in the majors.'
But first Teske will have to go head-to-head with Sorenstam, the LPGA's hottest golfer with wins in each of the last two events. Sorenstam, who last week became the first woman to shoot 59 in a tournament, is on a mission to win her first major title since she captured back-to-back U.S. Women's Opens in 1995-96.
'This tournament means a lot to me. I know tomorrow I've got to give it all,' said Sorenstam, who admitted Saturday she is suffering from a cold. 'Let's put it this way, I think I only have one round of golf left in me. I'm going to try and gather all the energy I can and try and hit the best shots that I can. I mean, it's so close.'
Sorenstam may have had the 54-hole lead were it not for a pair of three-putt bogeys. She also posted four birdies for a 2-under 70 and a share of second at 4-under 212.
Fukushima, a two-time LPGA winner and a former No. 1 player on the Japanese Tour, rebounded from an early bogey with three birdies for a 70. Hurst, who has had at least a share of the lead since the first round, rang up four bogeys due to a combination of errant driving and poor putting. She added two birdies to finish with a 74.
Two-time Nabisco winners Juli Inkster and Dottie Pepper shot 68 and 71, respectively, and are knotted in fifth place at 3-under. Laura Diaz, Tina Barrett, Janice Moodie, Michele Redman and Carin Koch are together at minus two.
Se Ri Pak, who took the outright lead at 6-under with her fourth birdie of the day at the 13th, plummeted from the leaderboard with three bogeys and a double-bogey over her last four holes. She wound up with a third-round 73 and a four-way tie at 1-under with Mi Hyun Kim, Brandie Burton and defending champion Karrie Webb.
Full Field Scores from the Nabisco Championship