Inkster keeps lead at Samsung

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The Independent Online

Juli Inkster, a self-described "boring mother" with two young daughters, was living dangerously at the Samsung World Championship.

Juli Inkster, a self-described "boring mother" with two young daughters, was living dangerously at the Samsung World Championship.

Inkster's adventurous third round at Hiddenbrooke on Saturday included seven birdies, four bogeys, a wince-inducing double bogey and a spectacular eagle. It added up to a 3-under 69 that put her four strokes ahead of Annika Sorenstam.

A less adventurous performance in Sunday's final round could give Inkster, who's at 11-under 205 after three rounds, her 25th career victory and her third World Championship in four years.

"I'm going to need to be a little more consistent," she said with a grimace.

How strange was the round for Inkster, who had a three-stroke lead over Pat Hurst entering the day?

Her final seven holes gave an indication: birdie, birdie, double bogey, birdie, birdie, bogey and a birdie on 18 that she punctuated with an awkward little dance that celebrated closure as much as a nice putt.

On Sunday, she'll play with Sorenstam in a rematch of a singles match played on the final day of last week's acrimonious Solheim Cup. Sorenstam recovered from a dismal second-round 74 with a tournament-low 66 on Saturday that put her at 7 under 209 after three days.

The invitation-only field of 20 players isn't exactly dominating the hilly, long Hiddenbrooke course. Only three are below par for the tournament, and Inkster leads all but four golfers by 13 strokes or more.

After two days of wet fairways, Hiddenbrooke dried out on Saturday. But pin placements that Sorenstam called "the hardest I've ever seen" kept the golfers frustrated.

"I could count on one hand the number of times I've had a flat lie this week," Sorenstam said.

Hurst, like Inkster a Bay Area native playing a short drive from the courses where she learned the game, had a double bogey on the fifth hole and spent the day trying to catch up. Her 72 left her at 5 under 211 for the tournament, six strokes behind Inkster.

Inkster's day started with a bogey on the first hole and an eagle on No. 2, which she got by holing a tricky sand shot from a back bunker. She missed a 4-foot (1.2-meter) par putt on the fourth hole but birdied two of the next three holes - then erased that progress by three-putting the 10th.

"It was like I'd take two steps forward and two steps back," Inkster said. "I'll have to be better to win."

She'll also have to win a head-to-head matchup with Sorenstam, who had six birdies and no bogeys after a poor second round that sent her to the practice tee for several hours on Friday night. Her 35-foot (10.5-meter) birdie putt on the 14th was the highlight of her round.

"Mostly, I was just calming down," Sorenstam said of her practice time. "It just shows what a mental game golf is. I was so upset (Friday) because I played good, but I couldn't get the job done."

Player of the Year Karrie Webb shot a 2-under 70, her eighth straight round in the 70s over her last three tournaments. Webb, who took three weeks off recently to attend the Olympics in her native Australia and to write a column for USA Today at the Solheim Cup, is 11 strokes behind Inkster at 216.

So is Canadian Lorie Kane, who started the day five strokes behind Inkster but made a double bogey on the first hole and never recovered in a 3-over round.

Third-round scores from the LPGA Samsung World Championship in California (USA unless stated):

205 J Inkster 69 67 69 209 A Sorenstam (Swe) 69 74 66 211 P Hurst 69 70 72 216 K Webb (Aus) 71 75 70, L Kane (Can) 70 71 75 218 J Moodie (Gbr) 72 75 71, M Mallon 69 75 74, M H Kim (Kor) 73 70 75, S R Pak (Kor) 72 72 74 219 R Jones 73 72 74 220 L Davies (Gbr) 76 71 73, M Redman 71 76 73, C Kerr 77 71 72 221 C Sorenstam (Swe) 73 75 73 222 K Robbins 76 75 71, S Steinhauer 77 72 73 223 S Gustafson (Swe) 72 77 74, D Delasin 73 75 75 226 G Park (Kor) 76 75 75 228 S Y Kang (Kor) 74 77 77