Fitness factor helps Sorenstam in heavy conditions

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The Independent Online

Steady as ever on a sloppy course, Annika Sorenstam doubled her lead to four shots over the final three holes here yesterday morning to seize control after three rounds of the LPGA Championship.

Sorenstam bogeyed the 18th hole for a 1–over 72, but she still managed to gain ground on fast–fading Hee–Won Han, who simply couldn't match Sorenstam's power and bogeyed two of the final three holes for a 74. Sorenstam, who has never won the LPGA Championship, was at 7–under 206.

The third round was suspended when a steady rain saturated the course on Saturday, and it was a small miracle players could resume at 7:30 a.m. (12:30 BST).

One reason Sorenstam played on the PGA Tour at the Colonial two weeks ago was for moments like these, the pressure of winning major championships that haven't come easily. She was 18 holes away from her fifth career major.

"This is a course that can get you," Sorenstam said. "If I shoot a decent score, someone has to catch me."

There wasn't a long list of candidates. Only seven women remained under par at DuPont Country Club, which played every bit of its 6,408 yards because of the rain.

Kate Golden made a hole–in–on on No 17 and shot 68 to finish at 210, tied with Han. Kelli Kuehne had the best score of the third round, a 6–under 65, that left her at 211.

Sorenstam was tied with Han at 7 under when the third round resumed, and took the lead for good when Han missed the green at No 6 and three–putted for double bogey.

Sorenstam didn't make a mistake, hitting every green on the back nine. The only birdie putt she converted was from 6 feet on the par–3 17th.

She got a bad break on the 18th when her tee shot landed in casual water, although Sorenstam couldn't take relief because the water did not come up to her shoes as she stood over the shot. Her approach was well short, and she chipped weakly to 10 feet and missed the putt.

Han, the 2001 rookie of the year, didn't have many looks at birdie and when she tried to make her move, she went backward.

Unable to reach the par–5 16th in two shots, Han attacked the back pin position with her wedge and went over the green, leaving her no chance to get near the hole. Her chip down the slope went 40 feet by and she two–putted for bogey.

The 24–year–old South Korean also missed the 18th green to the right, chipped to 8 feet and missed the par putt.

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