Estill recovers to hold off Sorenstam

Michelle Estill, seeking her first title in 13 years, recovered from a triple-bogey in the third round of the Corning Classic to maintain a one-shot lead over Annika Sorenstam.

Michelle Estill, seeking her first title in 13 years, recovered from a triple-bogey in the third round of the Corning Classic to maintain a one-shot lead over Annika Sorenstam.

Estill, who started the day with a one-stroke advantage over the world No 1, had a disastrous seven at the par-four ninth but hit three birdies on the back nine. She finished with a two-under-par 70, to move to 15-under after three rounds.

The 41-year-old's only LPGA win came at the 1991 Ping-Cellular One. She battled with back problems last year, taking six months off, and has not had a top-10 finish since a tie for eighth at the Betsy King Classic in 2001.

Sorenstam was unable to take advantage of Estill's problems at the ninth. The Swede enjoyed an eagle at the par-five second but had bogeys at the sixth, seventh and ninth. Four birdies on the first six holes of the back nine restored her challenge, but she bogeyed the 16th to finish with a 70 of her own.

"It's just one of those days where it just didn't feel right," Sorenstam said. "Unfortunately, you have one of those days once in a while."

If Sorenstam's putter had been clicking as it was the first two days, she would have finished with her third straight round in the 60s. She also missed a five-foot putt for par at the sixth hole and a seven-footer for par on the next hole.

"I'm just glad that with a day like today that I didn't throw away the tournament because I'm right in there still," said Sorenstam, who has 50 wins in her 10-year career. "I can't speak for Michelle, but all that matters to me is to be right there. I've got a chance tomorrow."

Estill could only smile at her good fortune.

"Today was a gift," she said. "If it's your turn, it's your turn. If it isn't, that's all right, too."

Vicki Goetze-Ackerman is four shots back and Korea's Shi Hyun Ahn is five strokes off the pace, after shooting the best round of the day, a six-under 66.

CORNING CLASSIC (New York) Leading third round scores (US unless stated): 201 M Estill 67 64 70. 202 A Sorenstam (Swe) 65 67 70. 205 V Goetze-Ackerman 68 70 67. 206 S H Ahn (Kor) 69 71 66. 207 N Gulbis 66 71 70; D Killeen 69 68 70. 208 L Diaz 69 68 71; C Koch (Swe) 68 68 72; Kelli Kuehne 68 70 70; Nadina Taylor (Aus) 71 67 70. 209 Jeong Jang (Kor) 68 73 68; Liselotte Neumann (Swe) 65 72 72; Mhairi McKay (GB) 71 66 72; Laura Davies (GB) 70 69 70; Soo-Young Moon (Kor) 73 66 70. 210 Carri Wood 71 71 68; Wendy Ward 69 70 71; Catriona Matthew (GB) 67 74 69; Gloria Park (Kor) 71 67 72.

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