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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 3:12 p.m., Saturday, April 1, 2006

Wie shoots 73, trails Ochoa by three

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Hawai'i's Michelle Wie cut a shot off her deficit in Saturday's third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of the year and Wie's first major as a golf professional.

Wie, playing in her fourth Kraft Nabisco at age 16, fired a third-round 73 at Mission Hills Country Club. Lorena Ochoa, the 2003 LPGA Rookie of the Year, shot a 2-over-par 74. Ochoa is at 9-under 207 going into Sunday's final round, with Wie at 6 under.

Natalie Gulbis (68), Shi Hyun Ahn (71) and rookie Seon-Hwa Lee (74) share third at 4-under. Lee was the runnerup at February's Fields Open in Hawai'i. Wie finished third, in her first LPGA appearance of 2006.

This is Wie's second start of the LPGA season and on Sunday the Punahou junior is in contention to win a major. She had but one birdie Saturday, but dodged several bogey bullets in a round made difficult by gusting winds, hard and fast greens and the pressure of playing in the final group.

"It was a bad break kind of day," Wie said. "I was two feet from being perfect on every hole it seemed."

Instead, Wie had few realistic chances at birdie. She sank the best, dropping a 15-footer on on the 14th. A hole earlier she had been stuck in the rough and a bunker, but managed to drop an 18-footer for bogey to somehow gain momentum out of misfortune.

Defending champions Annika Sorenstam had a 73 Saturday and is nine back.

Wie played in the final group on the final day in 2003, finishing ninth. She took fourth the following year and was 14th last year.