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Published: Sunday, 7/15/2007

Wind at Pressel's back: 19-year-old trails 4-time champion Pak by 2 strokes

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Morgan Pressel waves to the crowd after a birdie at No. 18 to complete a 7-under 64 yesterday. After three
rounds of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, she is 11-under and trails leader Se Ri Pak by two strokes. Se Ri Pak lines up a putt - correctly - on the fourth hole yesterday and earned a birdie. Morgan Pressel waves to the crowd after a birdie at No. 18 to complete a 7-under 64 yesterday. After three rounds of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, she is 11-under and trails leader Se Ri Pak by two strokes. Se Ri Pak lines up a putt - correctly - on the fourth hole yesterday and earned a birdie.
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Strong winds during a golf tournament can generate a variety of reactions.

Few players like it, some fear it, some use it for an excuse. And then there are others who see it as an opportunity.

Morgan Pressel was in the latter mind-set yesterday as she negotiated the swirling winds well enough to scorch Highland Meadows Golf Club for a 7-under-par 64 and climb into contention with leader and four-time champion Se Ri Pak at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

Pak produced a respectable 2-under 69 to go to 13-under for the tournament, two shots ahead of Pressel.

Both players closed in style by sinking four-foot birdie putts on the 18th green.

Pak's extended her string of scores in the 60s at Highland Meadows to eight straight rounds - and her 27th in 41 career treks at the Farr.

Pressel's enabled her to match her career low round in her second full year on tour. She shot a 64 at last year's LPGA Corning Classic in New York.

The two will tee off in today's final pairing at 12:58 p.m.

If Pak wins, she will join Annika Sorenstam and Mickey Wright as the only LPGA players to triumph five times at the same tournament. Sorenstam has done it at two events.

"It was so difficult out there today," Pak said. "The wind was [blowing] really hard and every second it was changing. It was a pretty hard time deciding what club to use. But it was still a really solid round today. There's no complaints. I feel really great.

"Hopefully, after 18 [today], I'll take my glove off and be holding the trophy in my hand."

If Pressel wins, she will become the youngest player to win a Farr Classic, unseating Pak for that honor. Pak was 20 when she set single-round (61) and 72-hole (261) LPGA records in winning her first Farr title in 1998. Both marks have since been bettered.

Pressel's only prior tour victory came on April 1 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, an LPGA major.

"I played well, hit the ball solidly and I just didn't make many mistakes," Pressel said. "That's what you need out here. There's a lot of guesswork that goes into a day like today where the wind is swirling and gusting. I hit one iron that came up about 40 yards short and I was like, what happened? I had no idea.

"But, other than that, the numbers [reading distances] were pretty solid. I think the scoring conditions are going to be a little better [today], so I've just got to go out there and grind it, and hopefully make some birdies and make some putts."

If someone else should rise up to prevent these potential milestones, others are possible and some have already been achieved.

South Korean In-Kyung Kim enters final-round play in third place at 8-under for the tournament, that after posting the best start in the 23-year history of the Farr Classic and one of the best in LPGA history.

Like Pressel, Kim, 19, could become this event's youngest champion. Kim opened play yesterday with seven birdies on her first seven holes, and tied Jimin Kang, another South Korean, for the lowest nine-hole raw score in LPGA history at 27. When Pak shot her 61 here in '98, she went 29-32 on the par 34-37-71 Meadows layout.

Only Sorenstam, who began with eight birdies in a row during her LPGA-record score of 59 in 2001, posted a better start to a round. Beth Daniel holds the tour record for consecutive birdies during any portion of a round with nine during a 1999 event.

"On the front nine I played really good," Kim said, "and on the back nine I was still trying to play well. But I didn't really hit lots of fairways and greens, so that made it a little harder."

Canadian player Alena Sharp, who has turned in a see-saw 65-74-67 effort thus far, is alone in fourth at 7-under. Like Kim, Sharp is seeking her first LPGA tournament victory, and was oblivious to the wind.

"I went to school at New Mexico State and we have the Texas spring winds," Sharp said, "so I had played in it the last few years. They taught us to hit the ball low and hard, and the ball didn't really move a lot for me in the wind today.

"Some people, when it's windy, they think, 'Oh, no!' Other people take it as, 'Oh, the scores are going to be high today, so I can make my move.'•"

Also chasing their first titles are two of the five players tied for fifth place at 6-under -American Carri Wood and Linda Wessberg of Sweden.

"I grew up [playing golf] on an island and I'm pretty used to playing in the wind, and I was hitting the ball really good today," said Wessberg, who summered on the island of Ourst while growing up in Sweden. "If you strike the ball well the wind doesn't really affect it. I'm very pleased with the round.

"You just have to figure out where the wind is coming from and go from there. You've got to stay patient in this weather."

The others tied at 6-under are veterans Laura Davies, who included a pair of eagles in her round of 67 yesterday, Laura Diaz, and 2004 Farr champion Meg Mallon.

Jin Young Pak, who entered play in second place at 6-under yesterday, earning the right to play the third round with her hero, Se Ri Pak, opened with a double bogey on the first hole and finished with a 74 to move to 3-under for the tourney.

Jin Young admitted that nerves, from playing with Se Ri, played a part in the poor start.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com or 419-724-6461.

Tee No. 1

8:02 a.m. Jill McGill.

8:10 a.m. Reilley Rankin, Meaghan Francella.

8:18 a.m. Brooke Tull, Soo Young Moon.

8:26 a.m. Jane Park, Natalie Gulbis.

8:34 a.m. Aree Song, Aram Cho.

8:42 a.m. Eva Dahllof, Dina Ammaccapane.

8:50 a.m. Sarah Lynn Sargent, Heather Young.

8:58 a.m. Janice Moodie, Jimin Kang.

9:06 a.m. Brittany Lang, Dorothy Delasin.

9:14 a.m. Sherri Turner, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc.

9:22 a.m. Michele Redman, Virada Nirapathpongporn.

9:34 a.m. Moira Dunn, Yu Ping Lin.

9:42 a.m. Diana D Alessio, Charlotte Mayorkas.

9:50 a.m. Kristi Albers, Cristie Kerr.

9:58 a.m. Beth Daniel, Jacqueline Yang.

10:06 a.m. *Stacy Lewis, Nancy Scranton.

10:14 a.m. Irene Cho, Katherine Hull.

10:22 a.m. Joo Mi Kim, Sherri Steinhauer.

10:30 a.m. Ji-Young Oh, Lorie Kane.

10:38 a.m. Sophie Giquel, Angela Park.

10:46 a.m. Erica Blasberg, Brittany Lincicome.

10:54 a.m. Kristy McPherson, Julieta Granada.

11:02 a.m. Kim Hall, Christina Kim.

11:10 a.m. Rachel Hetherington, Mi Hyun Kim.

11:22 a.m. Nicole Castrale, Na Ri Kim.

11:30 a.m. Mikaela Parmlid, Katie Futcher.

11:38 a.m. Jee Young Lee, Gloria Park.

11:46 a.m. Jin Young Pak, Karine Icher.

11:54 a.m. Seon Hwa Lee, Marcy Hart.

12:02 p.m. Stacy Prammanasudh, Kelly Cap.

12:10 p.m. Candie Kung, Jeong Jang.

12:18 p.m. Wendy Ward, Angela Stanford.

12:26 p.m. Carri Wood, Beth Bader.

12:34 p.m. Laura Diaz, Meg Mallon.

12:42 p.m. Linda Wessberg, Laura Davies.

12:50 p.m. In-Kyung Kim, Alena Sharp.

12:58 p.m. Se Ri Pak, Morgan Pressel.

At Highland Meadows Golf Club Sylvania; Par: 71

a-amateur

Se Ri Pak 63-68-69 200

Morgan Pressel 68-70-64 202

In-Kyung Kim 72-68-65 205

Alena Sharp 65-74-67 206

Linda Wessberg 73-68-66 207

Laura Davies 71-69-67 207

Laura Diaz 69-70-68 207

Meg Mallon 72-65-70 207

Carri Wood 68-69-70 207

Beth Bader 69-73-66 208

Wendy Ward 71-70-67 208

Angela Stanford 69-70-69 208

Candie Kung 70-70-69 209

Jeong Jang 69-71-69 209

Stacy Prammanasudh 71-70-69 210

Kelly Cap 71-70-69 210

Seon Hwa Lee 70-70-70 210

Marcy Hart 72-67-71 210

Jin Young Pak 67-69-74 210

Karine Icher 71-72-68 211

Jee Young Lee 71-71-69 211

Gloria Park 72-69-70 211

Mikaela Parmlid 69-71-71 211

Katie Futcher 72-69-71 212

Nicole Castrale 71-70-71 212

Na Ri Kim 70-71-71 212

Rachel Hetherington 70-71-71 212

Mi Hyun Kim 68-73-71 212

Kim Hall 73-67-72 212

Christina Kim 69-71-72 212

Kristy McPherson 72-72-69 213

Julieta Granada 71-73-69 213

Erica Blasberg 69-72-72 213

Brittany Lincicome 69-72-72 213

Sophie Giquel 72-68-73 213

Angela Park 71-69-73 213

Ji-Young Oh 70-69-74 213

Lorie Kane 69-70-74 213

Joo Mi Kim 74-70-70 214

Sherri Steinhauer 73-70-71 214

Irene Cho 72-71-71 214

Katherine Hull 71-72-71 214

a-Stacy Lewis 71-72-71 214

Nancy Scranton 70-73-71 214

Beth Daniel 71-71-72 214

Jacqueline Yang 70-72-72 214

Kristi Albers 69-73-72 214

Cristie Kerr 69-70-75 214

Diana D Alessio 72-72-71 215

Charlotte Mayorkas 72-71-72 215

Moira Dunn 71-71-73 215

Yu Ping Lin 70-72-73 215

Michele Redman 73-68-74 215

Virada Nirapathpongporn 72-69-74 215

Sherri Turner 72-68-75 215

Patricia Meunier-Lebouc 75-68-73 216

Brittany Lang 72-70-74 216

Dorothy Delasin 71-70-75 216

Janice Moodie 69-72-75 216

Jimin Kang 70-68-78 216

Sarah Lynn Sargent 76-68-73 217

Heather Young 73-71-73 217

Eva Dahllof 74-68-75 217

Dina Ammaccapane 69-73-75 217

Aree Song 72-69-76 217

Aram Cho 68-73-76 217

Jane Park 70-70-77 217

Natalie Gulbis 75-69-74 218

Brooke Tull 75-69-74 218

Soo Young Moon 73-70-75 218

Reilley Rankin 76-68-75 219

Meaghan Francella 72-72-76 220

Jill McGill 74-66-80 220



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