Annika Sorenstam struggled with windy conditions Saturday but opened up a five-stroke lead at the $500,000 Nichirei Cup World Ladies tournament, her last event before playing in the PGA Tour’s Colonial.
Heading into the third round with a one-stroke lead over Japan’s Junko Yasui, world No. 1 Sorenstam carded four birdies against three bogeys for a 71 at the Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club and a 54-hole total of 9-under 207.
Kaori Suzuki, who knocked down five birdies against two bogeys for a 69, is in second place at 4-under 212.
“My driving was excellent but I had a hard time getting the ball to the hole,” said Sorenstam. “The wind was tough to judge on several holes and that made it hard to reach the pin.”
Despite the big lead, Sorenstam wasn’t completely satisfied with her game and headed to the practice tee after Saturday’s round.
“I need to work on my chipping and putting,” said Sorenstam. “It didn’t seem like I could score well today so I’m going to have to work on that.”
Sorenstam, who won 13 tournaments last year, will become the first woman to play on the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias contested the 1945 Los Angeles Open.
Hamilton keeps going
ITO, Shizuoka Pref. (Kyodo) Overnight leader Todd Hamilton of the United States fired the day’s best score of a no-bogey 65 on Saturday to extend his lead to four strokes going into the final round of the Fujisankei Classic.
The 37-year-old Hamilton, seeking his eighth overall tour title and first since the Jun Classic in September 1998, birdied Nos. 4, 6, 9, 12, 14 and 16 for a three-day total of 14-under 199 on the par-71 Kawana Hotel Golf Course.
Little-known Shigeru Nonaka scattered five birdies against a lone bogey on the fifth en route to a 67 to gain sole possession of second place at 203 over the 6,694-yard course.
Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki, a six-time Fujisankei Classic winner, also carded a 67 with five birdies and a bogey to stand another stroke back at 204 with China’s Zhang Lianwei and Tetsuji Hiratsuka.
Zhang carded a 66 for the second straight day while Hiratsuka produced a 68.
Price up by one
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Nick Price watched his 40-foot putt climb a ridge and swing sharply to the left toward the hole. When it disappeared into the cup, he took off his cap in disbelief, turned to the gallery and smiled.
Price needed all the help he could get to stay on top Friday at the Wachovia Championship, finishing with a 1-under 71 for a one-stroke lead over Fred Couples and J.P. Hayes.
His drives kept landing in the rough. He hit only one green in regulation over the final eight holes, on the par-3 17th where he made the long birdie.
Price was at 7-under 137, an indication that Quail Hollow is no pushover.
Jones leads field
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (AP) Rosie Jones shot a 68 to take the lead at 10-under 134 through two rounds at the Asahi Ryokuken International.
Jones, who was tied with Sophie Gustafson after the first round, was one stroke ahead of fellow American Wendy Ward. Another shot behind were Americans Laura Diaz (68), Pat Hurst (69) and Marcy Hart (66), who had the day’s best round.
SUTTON COLDFIELD, England (AP) Padraig Harrington shot a 4-under-par 68 to take a two-stroke lead after two rounds of the Benson and Hedges International at The Belfry.
Harrington overcame a double bogey on his 17th hole and had an eagle, five birdies and a bogey to move to 9-under 135.
Defending champion Angel Cabrera was in second place after a second-round 69. Jose Manuel Lara (68), Jamie Elson (69) and Paul Casey (69) were tied for third place, five strokes behind the leader at 140.
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