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Annika Closing on Third Title in Three Starts

Annika Sorenstam zeroed in on her third win in as many tournaments, shooting a 4-under-par 68 Saturday to take a four-stroke lead into the final round of the Ping Banner Health.
Sorenstam has led or shared the lead in Phoenix six consecutive rounds, starting with the second round last year in which she shot the first 59 in women's tournament history.
She didn't get sole possession of the lead this year until her masterful play on a third blustery day pushed her 54-hole total to 11-under 205. She was 23-under at the same point in 2001, another of the six LPGA records she set or tied in the event.
In 34 previous tournaments in which she held the third-round lead, the Swedish star has gone on to win 20 and finished no lower than third in nine others.
Cristie Kerr and Rachel Teske shared the lead briefly, but couldn't keep up when Sorenstam began her stretch run with consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-14.
Kerr, who had two eagles, fired a 70 and was tied with Akiko Fukushima (71) at 209. Teske bogeyed two of the last six holes for a 71 and a 210 total.
My Hyun Kim (67) and Lorie Kane (69), who lost in a playoff with Sorenstam in the season opener in Hawaii, were paired at 212.
Kim Saiki started the round tied for the lead, but double-bogeyed the second hole and had another double bogey on the next-to-last, finishing with a 78 and in a five-way group 10 shots out.
The start of play was held up until mid-morning to allow four players to finish the second round after a frost delay at the start Friday.
On a day in the low 60s when par would have sufficed to hold the lead, Sorenstam got her first separation from the field with birdies on the fourth and fifth holes, dropping to 9-under.
Kerr made a run with eagles on the fourth and eighth holes, the only par-5s on the front nine, and got within a shot. Then she gave that back with a bogey on the ninth hole.
Teske, playing in a threesome with Kerr and Emilee Klein, also eagled No. 8 and got to 8-under with a birdie on No. 9.
A hole later, Sorenstam bogeyed No. 10, backing into a tie with Teske.
Kerr made it a three-way race with a birdie on No. 12, but the situation only lasted as long as it took Sorenstam to cover the next half-fairway.
She holed a 23-foot birdie putt on the 12th, sank a short putt for birdie on No. 13 after missing an eagle opportunity when she misread the break and got to 11 under by hitting a pitching wedge within 5 feet for her fifth birdie of the round.
From that point, Sorenstam finished bogey-birdie-par.
Full-field scores from the PING Banner Health