Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2004

Saiki clings to LPGA lead

June 27, 2004


— For the first time in 13 years, Kim Saiki has the lead going into the final round of a golf tournament. And she isn't nervous.

"If you're one shot ahead of the whole field, you've got to be pretty confident because you're playing pretty good golf," said Saiki, who shot a 4-under 68 Saturday to open a one-stroke lead over Rosie Jones after the third round of the Rochester LPGA.

While Jones "is a phenomenal player," she said, "I think it's going to be fun. I'm excited."

Saiki, a 38-year-old Californian who has been a runner-up four times since joining the tour in 1992, was at 13-under 203 after her third sub-70 round.

"I think of myself as a successful player," she said. But to win "would be incredible. It's what I'm out here for."

Jones, looking for her third victory in seven years at the tree-lined Locust Hill course, was tied for the lead until the last hole. Her approach shot landed in a greenside bunker on No. 18, and she picked up her first bogey to finish with a 67.

"Being one shot back takes about 10 seconds to fix," Jones said. "Either I make a birdie or someone makes a mistake."

Candie Kung, a three-time tour winner who was tied with Saiki after the second round, shot a 73 and fell to 8-under 208.

Annika Sorenstam managed only a 71 and was tied for fourth at 7-under with Becky Morgan of Wales, Mi Hyun Kim of South Korea and France's Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, who shot a 65, the day's best round.

"Hopefully, I'll have another 66 in me tomorrow," said Sorenstam, who shot a 66 on Friday. "And that's what it's going to take."

Saiki got going on the back nine with three straight birdies. Her wedge shot on No. 11 kicked back within inches of the hole. She followed that by sinking a 10-foot putt on 12, then chipped in after landing in thick rough behind the 13th green.

Another chip from the rough to eight feet away at No. 17 gave her a fourth birdie.

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