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Published: Sunday, 7/5/2009

Putting problems push Wie back in pack

BLADE STAFF
Laura Diaz, who was tied with Sarah Kemp after the second round, had plenty of company when she teed off at the first hole Saturday afternoon. She had a rough day and is now 10 shots back.
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<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/graphics/icons/photo.gif> <font color=red><b>VIEW</b></font>: <a href="/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=TO&Dato=20090705&Kategori=SPORTS05&Lopenr=705009996&Ref=PH" target="_blank"> <b> LPGA - Round 3</b></a> photo gallery
Laura Diaz, who was tied with Sarah Kemp after the second round, had plenty of company when she teed off at the first hole Saturday afternoon. She had a rough day and is now 10 shots back. <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/graphics/icons/photo.gif> <font color=red><b>VIEW</b></font>: <a href="/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=TO&Dato=20090705&Kategori=SPORTS05&Lopenr=705009996&Ref=PH" target="_blank"> <b> LPGA - Round 3</b></a> photo gallery
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While birdies were splashed all over the leaderboard at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Saturday, Michelle Wie found herself just a spectator observing all of those red numbers.

Wie, who entered the third round just three shots out of the lead, had bogeys on two of her first six holes and quickly dropped out of the picture. Wie is tied for 22nd place, nine shots out of the lead heading into today's final round.

"I hit the ball well. I just couldn't get anything to go in," Wie said after a round that included 33 putts. "I had so many putts where I just burned the edges. There were at least a handful out there that should have gone in."

The 19-year-old Wie, who played in her first Farr tournament at age 13, was just short of the green in two on the par-five No. 18 but chipped past the hole, had her first putt slide by the cup, and finished with a par. Her struggles on and around the green in that sequence were indicative of her day, Wie said.

"I played well, and I hit the ball as well as I did the other two days, but it's just that none of my putts went in," Wie said.

Wie, who was just one shot out of the lead after the opening round, shot a 1-under 70 at Highland Meadows yesterday, but there were 56 golfers in the field who shot as well, or better. Wie had opened the tournament with rounds of 65 and 69.

There are now 21 players and nine strokes separating Wie and tournament leader Eunjung Yi, who shot a 10-under par 61 yesterday. Still, Wie expressed optimism that she is still in contention at the Farr.

"I just didn't make the putts today, but hopefully tomorrow, they all go in," she said. "There's a lot of holes left, so all I can do is try and shoot a really low score tomorrow."

PRESSURE PLAY: Australian Sarah Kemp had an 8-under par 63 in the books just after noon on Friday and then watched that score surprisingly hold up the rest of the day, leaving her tied for the second round lead at the Farr with Laura Diaz. When Kemp stepped to the first tee yesterday, playing in the final pairing with Diaz, the weight of her status had an impact.

"I was a little nervous in the beginning of my round," said Kemp, who bogeyed the third hole and played the front nine in 1-under par 33. She had a couple of birdies early in her final nine but took a six on No. 18 to finish the day at 1-under 70. Kemp enters today's final round at 12-under par, six shots behind leader Yi.

"Unfortunately I had a bogey on the last hole, but that's golf. It just makes me want to come out tomorrow and play better," Kemp said. "I probably tried to make a lot of things happen today instead of letting it happen, but I'm aware of it, and tomorrow, I'll just let it happen."

NO OPEN: Barring a minor miracle in today's final round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, neither Wie nor Natalie Gulbis will be part of next week's U.S. Women's Open in Bethlehem, Pa. And Gulbis is not happy about that.

Entries in the Open are handed out based on the world player rankings and also go to tournament winners since last year's Open and those golfers who secure a position in Open sectional qualifying events. Gulbis and Wie both took part in a recent qualifier in an attempt to make the Open field but failed to land a spot. The LPGA rankings and money list are not used to determine the Open field because it is a United States Golf Association - not an LPGA - event.

"It's frustrating. It's definitely frustrating," Gulbis said. "When Michelle and I went to the Open qualifier, she was 17th on the [LPGA] money list and I was 26th, and we were wondering what we were doing there, trying to qualify for the U.S. Open."

Since the Farr is the final tournament before the Open, Gulbis and Wie have essentially run out of options other than winning today. Gulbis enters the last round of the Farr at minus-11, seven shots behind leader Yi, while Wie is two shots further back at 9-under.

"We didn't qualify, so there's only one way to get into the Open," Gulbis said.

CASH OR CAR: Pat Meyer of Perrysburg found the 18th green at Highland Meadows as difficult as the pros did yesterday. Meyer took part in the "Putt For Cash or Car" contest sponsored by the Taylor Automotive Group and The Blade and attempted a 50-foot putt. Had she made it, Meyer would have had her choice of $35,000 in cash or a new 2009 Cadillac CTS, but her putt faded to the left before it reached the hole.

GOOD MOODIE: Janice Moodie shot 67 yesterday, her second 4-under par round of the tournament, to end the day in a tie for 13th place. She is trying for her first top-10 finish of the season.

"You have to be smart off the tees, and then if you can get it on the fairway the golf course is playing relatively easy," Moodie said. "It's hard and fast, and it's a lot of fun."

Moodie, a native of Scotland, makes her home about two hours from Highland Meadows in suburban Cleveland.

"It's perfect," Moodie said. "I can drive, it's so close. It's very convenient and close to home."

BRITISH QUALIFIER: Five players used the first two rounds of the Farr Classic to vault themselves into a spot at the British Open.

Sarah Kemp, Eunjung Yi, Kris Tschetter, Jin Joo Hong, and Allison Hanna-Williams all qualified for the British Open, the LPGA's final major championship of the year. They had the top five scores through 36 holes of anyone who hadn't qualified for the tourney.

NOT AS HOT: Seon Hwa Lee could have kissed her putter on Friday after her second-round score of 63, when she needed just 22 putts.

Lee wasn't feeling as amicable yesterday. She carded a 68, this time taking 29 putts, and is in an eight-way tie for fourth at 12-under.

"I'm still in a good position I think, but I missed a couple birdie putts, really short ones," Lee said. "My putter was very good yesterday, but I didn't putt as well today. Hopefully a good day tomorrow."

PASSING LANE: Helen Alfredsson reeled off nine straight pars early in her round and then turned it on down the stretch for a 66 that improved her standing to 10-under after 54 holes.

"When you're making pars you know you'll be passed by on this course, but if they're solid pars you feel like sooner or later the birdies will come," she said.

-Maureen Fulton, Dave

Hackenberg, Matt Markey



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