Australian Karrie Webb, trying to become the first player in 22 years to win four consecutive LPGA tournaments, shared the lead with the Swedish Sorenstam sisters, Annika and Charlotta, after the third round of the Standard Register Ping tournament in Phoenix, Arizona.
All three leaders struggled in the brisk desert winds on Saturday and on greens that have grown increasingly firm in the warm, dry weather to finish at 8-under-par 208 through 36 holes at The Legacy Golf Resort, a new course bereft of trees or hardly any other windbreaks.
Three players were two shots back at 6-under 210 - Susie Redman, Carin Koch and Mi Hyun Kim. Six others were at 5-under 211. Redman and Koch had Saturday's best rounds with 4-under 68s.
The Swedish sisters played together in the final group for the first time in an LPGA event, with Annika entering the third round with a one-shot lead over her sister and Webb.
Charlotta and Webb both shot even-par 72 on Saturday, while Annika had a 73.
Considering the way they played, all three were happy to still be in the lead.
"I'm a little surprised," Webb said, "but I know how tough it played for me. I didn't play very good golf, but it doesn't help when you have to play so defensively. I just had one of those days where I didn't have very good numbers into the greens."
Webb has won all four tournaments she has played this year, including the Australian Women's Open, which is not an LPGA event. If the Australian star can win today, then next week in The Nabisco Championship, she would tie the record for consecutive LPGA victories of five set by Nancy Lopez in 1978.
She is playing down the streak's significance.
"The streak is not going to continue if I don't win the golf tournament," she said, "so I've really just got to think about that."
Webb trailed at least one Sorenstam, and usually both, through most of the round.
But on the par-3, 157-yard 17th, a coyote ran across in front of the tee before the Sorenstams hit. It must have been an omen, because both sisters bogeyed the hole to fall into a three-way tie.
"To play a par round and still be up there, it feels great," Charlotta said.
While Annika got her 19th career victory last week at the Welch's-Circle K Championship last week in Tucson, Charlotta, at 26 three years younger than her more famous sister, has never won an LPGA event.
But Annika said her sister should not be counted out.
"Experience means a lot. The more you do it, you know yourself, you know how you feel and you know how you behave in certain situations," Annika said. "But if you win, there's always got to be a first time. Lotta did really good today. Playing under these conditions, it was difficult and she hung in there really well. I don't really think she showed any signs of really letting me go."
Annika said she is looking forward to a rematch with Webb after their thrilling battle at the Takefuji Classic two weeks ago in Hawaii. In that tournament, Webb forced a playoff with a birdie on the 18th, then won with another birdie on the 18th in the playoff.
"It's going to be fun tomorrow," she said. "This could be kind of my revenge tomorrow. It seems like Karrie's playing well, too. I think it's going to come down to the last few holes, I really do."
Leading third-round scores from the LPGA Standard register Ping tournament in Phoenix, Arizona (US unless stated):
208 K Webb (Aus) 67 69 72, A Sorenstam (Swe) 67 68 73, C Sorenstam (Swe) 72 64 72 210 C Koch (Swe) 69 73 68, S Redman 71 71 69, M H Kim (Kor) 68 73 69 211 N Scranton 71 71 69, T Barrett 73 68 70, J Morley (GB) 70 70 71, R Hetherington (Aus) 71 69 71, J Rosales (Phi) 72 68 71, R Jones 73 67 71 212 H Kobayashi (Jpn) 71 71 70, M Hjorth (Swe) 69 72 71, J Geddes 72 69 71, M McGuire (NZ) 70 71 71, L Lindley 72 70 70, L Davies (GB) 69 71 72 213 M McGann 71 74 68, L Bemvenuti (Bra) 73 72 68, J Bartholomew 70 74 69, B King 74 68 71, S Waugh (Aus) 73 69 71, C Johnston-Forbes 70 68 75 Other scores 214 H Dobson (GB) 72 74 68, C Matthew (GB) 72 71 71 215 K Marshall (GB) 75 70 70, L Neumann (Swe) 73 72 216 J Moodie (GB) 74 71 71 218 H Alfredsson (Swe) 74 68 76 219 A Nicholas (GB) 74 72 73, K Stupples (GB) 70 73 76Reuse content