|Michelle Wie plays her second shot on the second hole at the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Saturday. (AFP-Yonhap)|
RANCHO MIRAGE, California (AP) ― Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson topped the Kraft Nabisco leaderboard, setting up a possible final-round showdown the LPGA Tour has been waiting for.
The 24-year-old Wie shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 on Saturday to match Thompson at 10-under 206 at Mission Hills in the first major championship of the year.
“I think Lexi is a really entertaining golfer,” Wie said.
“I like to think I’m somewhat entertaining as well. So, I think the both of us paired together is great. I think it’s great for the tour and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The 19-year-old Thompson settled for a 69 after missing a 3-foot par putt on the par-5 18th. She also missed two short birdie putts on the front nine.
“Not the ending I wanted,” Thompson said. “I’m getting looks at birdies and just waiting for a few more to drop.”
Charley Hull, the Englishwoman who turned 18 last month, was two strokes back along with five-time major champion Pak Se-ri. Hull birdied the 18th for a 66, the best round of the day. Pak shot 71.
Both leaders said they were nervous.
“I probably won’t sleep that well,” Wie said.
“It’s just the chance. You want something so badly. I dreamed about this all my life, so I’m just trying to not think about it so much. I’m just trying to think it’s a normal Sunday. ... But I think that’s a good thing. It’s a sign that I’m really excited and I really want this.”
“I think if you’re not nervous, you don’t care,” Thompson said. “But it’s a good nervous. This is what I’ve been waiting for and what I’ve worked my whole life for.”
Wie is making her 12th start in the tournament. She was ninth in 2003 at age 13, fourth the following year and tied for third at 16 in 2006. She also was sixth in 2011. Kuchar takes 4-shot lead in Houston
HUMBLE, Texas (AP) ― Matt Kuchar didn’t have the result he had hoped for while playing in the final pairing at last week’s Texas Open.
The six-time PGA Tour winner, who closed with a final-round 75 on his way to a fourth-place finish last week, will have the opportunity to show what he learned from that disappointing finish at this week’s Houston Open.
Playing in the final pairing, Kuchar vaulted past a struggling Sergio Garcia with a 4-under par 68 on Saturday ― overcoming windy conditions at the Golf Club of Houston to match the low round of the day and take a four-shot lead after three rounds.
|Matt Kuchar walks off the 18th green at the Houston Open on Saturday. (AP-Yonhap)|
Kuchar stands at 15 under overall heading into Sunday’s final round, four shots ahead of second-round leader Garcia and Cameron Tringale. The three will be paired together on Sunday.
“It’s a nice position to have played well last week, to have been in the last group with a chance to win and again to come back this week, completely different course, and have another shot to win,” Kuchar said.
Kuchar’s last win came at the Memorial last year, and he has eight top 10 finishes this season in 10 events.
He’ll have the opportunity add to that resume on Sunday, weather permitting, as well as fuel his surging confidence leading into next week’s Masters, where he finished in a tie for eighth last year.
The prospect of a winner’s share of nearly $1.2 million, however, has Kuchar locked in on this weekend first ― even with the prospect of competing for his first major championship looming next week.
“I’ve been playing some steady golf for a couple of years now and feel like my chances of playing well tomorrow are pretty good,” Kuchar said. “Having a four-shot lead is a great position to be in.”
The golfers went off both tees in threesomes early Saturday morning in anticipation of severe weather in the evening, a format they’ll use again Sunday with hopes of avoiding a Monday finish leading into next week’s visit to Augusta National.
Garcia, who surged ahead with a 7-under 65 on Friday, began the day with a one-shot lead over Kuchar. That disappeared quickly after the Spaniard bogeyed the first to fall back to 11 under and into a tie with his playing partner, Kuchar.