First four hold spots on leaderboard after 54 holes
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Christina Kim wasn't making birdies or bogeys and she stayed on top of the leaderboard at the LPGA Sybase Classic.
The 21-year-old California native closed a 1-under 70 with 11 straight pars Saturday and held a one-stroke lead over three players after three rounds of the LPGA Sybase Classic.
"Par is not a bad score here by any means," she said after making two birdies and one bogey. "Make a par here, that's fine. A birdie is great and bogeys are going to happen. The greens are as fast as they've ever been and the pin placements are always interesting out here."
The trio tied for second in the $1.25 million tournament was the same players tied with Kim for the lead after 36 holes.
Tour rookies Paula Creamer and Joo Mi Kim and 2002 Sybase champion Gloria Park were all at 5-under 208 after 71s on their third trip around the Wykagyl Country Club course.
The last time Christina Kim had anything but a par was a 10-foot birdie on the par-4 8th. She had a three-putt bogey from 40 feet on the par-3 4th and a tap-in birdie on the par-4 5th.
She opened the tournament with a 65 to lead by one stroke and then had a 72 to fall into the four-way tie at the halfway point.
This is the third time Christina Kim has played in this event and it's the first time she made the cut.
"I'm surprised no one came out guns flailing," she said of the day when only 12 players broke par with 68 the best score. "There's a 64, 65 out there."
Kim was asked if she had a number in mind for Sunday's final round.
"Fifty-four," she said, laughing. "I'm pretty sure I'd walk off with that."
Creamer, 18, had four birdies and four bogeys and stayed close as she kept alive her hopes of winning for the first time on the LPGA Tour on Sunday and then graduating from high school in Bradenton, Fla., on Thursday.
She had the lead at 7 under, then had bogeys on the par-5 15th and the par-4 17th.
"I hit the ball terrible, but I think I got all the bad shots out for tomorrow," said Creamer, who played in a final group for the first time. "I was anxious all day about that."
Park was one shot out of the lead when she double-bogeyed the par-3 4th, but she eagled the par-4 6th by holing out with a pitching wedge from 89 yards. She got to 7 under with birdies at 10 and 11, but then had consecutive bogeys at 14 and 15.
Park, who was tied for the lead with Annika Sorenstam entering the final round in 2002, is battling tendinitis in her left wrist, an injury that has limited her time on the practice range.
"How it feels depends on the lie," she said. "If I'm in the rough I can't go aggressively. If I keep my drives on the fairway that will help a lot tomorrow."
Joo Mi Kim birdied the par-5 18th with a two-putt from about 30 feet to join the tie for second.
Park's second -- and last -- career win came at this tournament. Christina Kim won the Long Drugs Challenge last year for her only title.
Heather Bowie (69) and Siew-Ai Lim (70) were tied at 4-under 209, one stroke ahead of Mi Hyun Kim (69) and Michele Redman (71).
Redman, who won this tournament in 1997, holed a 7-wood out of the left rough from about 150 yards to eagle the par-4 12th.
Grace Park had the day's low round, a 3-under 68, and last year's runner-up here was at 1-under 212.
Defending champion Sherri Steinhauer, who also won here in 1999, had a third-round 73 and was at 6-over 219. ... Miriam Nagl, whose best finish in two starts this year has been a tie for 48th, started the second round tied for fifth. She had a 6-over 77 on Saturday and was tied for 17th place heading into the final round. ... Erica Blasberg aced the 154-yard 16th with a 5-iron. The tour rookie had a 70 and was 2-over for the tournament. It was the 12th hole-in-one in the 16 years of the tournament, the second at No. 16. Vicki Fergon aced it in 1996.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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