Sorenstam leads, but Ochoa close

Published October 15, 2006

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Annika Sorenstam built another quick lead and this time made it last, holing a 12-foot birdie on her final hole Saturday to take a three-shot lead over Lorena Ochoa in the Samsung World Championship.

Sorenstam is trying to win the elite tournament for a record sixth time, and she has won the previous two years it has been played at Bighorn Golf Club, where the Swede once owned property and is still a member.

At least this year, Ochoa has a fighting chance.

Sorenstam posted the best score of the tournament and finished three rounds at 12-under 204. Ochoa, playing in the group ahead, rattled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole for 67.

Sophie Gustafson got within one shot of the lead with eagle on No. 12, but her momentum stalled, and she shot 70 to finish at 208.

"I'm going to need everything I have (today)," Sorenstam said. "Lorena is having a fantastic year, a lot of momentum on her side.

"I know (today) I have to earn it. I have to post a low score."

Michelle Wie waited until the 18th hole to get her first ruling of the day. Her tee shot came within a foot of going out of bounds, but she got free relief from a large scoreboard in her line of sight, hit her approach up to 25 feet and made the birdie putt for an even 72 that left her 14 shots behind at 2-over 218.

It was the seventh straight round on the LPGA Tour that the 17-year-old from Hawaii has failed to break par and her 11th straight round including missed cuts on the European and PGA tours where she competed against men.

"I'm not playing my 'A' game," Wie said. "I'm really grinding out there."

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot even 72 for 3-over 219 and is tied for 15th out of 20 players.

PGA: Daniel Chopra was the clubhouse leader at 15 under after shooting 8-under 64, and Charley Hoffman was 17 under with four holes to play when darkness forced the suspension of play in the third round of the rain-delayed Frys.com Open in Las Vegas.

Hoffman, who began the day at 11 under, had just birdied his 14th hole when play was called. Troy Matteson, also 11 under to start, was 16 under through 12 holes.

Overnight storms that extended into the morning delayed the start by some 3½ hours in the tournament that fell behind schedule the previous day.

CHAMPIONS: Jay Haas birdied the final four holes for 9-under 63 - matching his best round on tour - and a five-shot lead after two rounds in the Administaff Small Business Classic in Spring, Texas.

After splitting time between the PGA and Champions tours last season, Haas, 52, has played 19 tournaments on the 50-and-over tour this season and made only seven starts on the PGA.

The nine-time PGA Tour winner has three Champions victories this year and five in only 31 career starts.

Haas, last year's Champions rookie of the year, broke the Augusta Pines course record of 64 shared by Wayne Levi, Walter Hall, Doug Tewell and Larry Nelson.

Haas, who started the round tied for the lead with Tom Purtzer and Dick Mast, finished at 16-under 128.

Bruce Lietzke eagled the final hole for 66 to join Purtzer, who shot 68, at 11 under.

NATIONWIDE: Brandt Snedeker's game wasn't quite as polished as the previous two days, but he still managed to hold on to the lead at the Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic in Midland, Texas. A 2-under 70 moved Snedeker to 13-under 203, two shots ahead of Matt Kuchar, who shot 69.

ASIAN: Defending champion Retief Goosen shot 5-under 67, including eagle and five birdies, to extend his lead to five strokes heading into the final round of the China Masters. He is at 20-under 196 in Sanya, China.