A third-round 69 carries the Hawaii golfer up to fourth at the Kraft Nabisco
POSTED: 02:41 p.m. HST, Apr 02, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 04:13 p.m. HST, Apr 02, 2011
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif.>> Hawaii’s Michelle Wie had four birdies on the back nine to climb into fourth today in the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Wie, a Stanford senior who starts her spring quarter Monday, shot 3-under-par 69 at the Mission Hills Country Club. She is at 6-under 210 in the year’s first LPGA major and trails defending champion Yani Tseng (66) by six shots and Stacy Lewis (71) by four.
Wie will play Sunday's final round with 2007 Kraft champion Morgan Pressel, who is in third place at 69—208.
Wie played the first 10 holes in even par this afternoon, then birdied four of the next six. After draining a 25-foot birdie putt on the 15th she nearly holed out from 140 yards on the next hole. She gave that shot back on the 17th, missing a 2-footer for par after blasting out of the bunker.
"It's been a while since I've been in contention here," said Wie, who made four top-15 finishes at Mission Hills before she turned 17. "It's a lot of fun. I forgot how fun it was, and I'm really excited to play tomorrow."
Tseng is No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings, while Wie is ninth, Pressel 14th and Lewis 28th. The purse is $2 million, with $300,000 going to the winner.
Tseng showed a defending champion's confidence with her aggressive, powerful play at Mission Hills, shooting the round's low score to move to 12-under 204. She erased playing partner Lewis' three-shot lead in the first seven holes before going ahead on the 11th.
The talkative 22-year-old from Taiwan also had the backing of about 300 boisterous fans from nearby Beaumont, Calif., where Tseng and her mother lived for about three years while Tseng practiced and attempted to qualify for the tour.
Lewis struggled to keep up in her quest for her first tour victory, managing just two birdies while repeatedly saving par with a steady short game and putter. Even after her lone bogey on the 16th hole, Lewis retained a measure of confidence simply by staying just two strokes back.
Tseng is chasing her fourth major title after winning the Kraft Nabisco and the Women's British Open last year. She has already won four times worldwide this year, but a winning final round at Mission Hills would put her in historic company.
Annika Sorenstam (2001-02) and Canada's Sandra Post (1978-79) are the only previous back-to-back winners in the 40-year history of the former Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament — and only Sorenstam has done it since the event was designated a major nearly three decades ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.