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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 29, 2006

Wie trails by one entering final round

By Erica Bulman
Associated Press

Hawai'i's Michelle Wie follows the flight of her approach shot to the sixth green. Wie, who has eight top-5 finishes in her last 10 LPGA events, will be seeking her first LPGA victory today.

PATRICK GARDIN | Associated Press

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EVIAN, France Michelle Wie's biggest problem at the Evian Masters may be her own strength.

The 16-year-old from Hawai'i is poised to make a serious run at her first victory as a professional, sitting just one shot behind leader Karrie Webb after shooting a 2-under 70 in the third round yesterday.

But if Wie is to win, she'll likely have to improve her performance on the par-3 17th hole where she has struggled to control her tee shots all week.

"It's like I became the Hulk on that hole or something," Wie said.

She bogeyed the hole yesterday for the second time in the tournament, along with a par there in the second round.

Her tee shot on the 114-yard 17th went 30 yards farther than she intended and into the rough. She then chipped out over the flag and on to the opposite edge of the green. She missed her putt by 6 inches, settling for bogey.

"There's no reason that I should have gone that far," she said. "I got a bad-lie second shot. The shot felt good when I hit it but it just kept on going.

"It was just weird but tomorrow I'll get it. I'm not going to leave this tournament until I've birdied it."

Wie also bogeyed the 12th and birdied four holes, including the 18th, to move to 11-under 205 for the tournament. She had shared the lead with Webb and Lorena Ochoa after the second round, the fourth time she had a share of the lead as a professional.

Webb (69) dropped a total of three shots on the 12th and 13th holes, but compensated with six birdies to finish the day at 12-under 204.

"It was another good start but I seemed to struggle through the middle holes," Webb said. "I putted pretty well and was comfortable on the greens. But it's only the third round. There's a long way to go. There are a lot of low numbers to be had out there."

It is the 30th time Webb has entered the final round with at least a share of the lead. She won 19 of those times, finished second seven others and third once.

"I'm not really bothered about being in the lead," she said. "There are a lot of great players behind me and with a one-shot lead, I feel I've got to attack. It's not like protecting a three- or four-shot lead."

Webb made four birdies in the front nine, and another on the 10th hole before stumbling on the 12th and 13th. However, she was able to regroup and birdie the 18th.

"It's probably the mental work I've done over the last eight months," she said. "Definitely I've been more concentrated on that the last eight months. How to switch it on, when to switch it on."

Laura Davies and Se Ri Pak are tied for third at 10 under.

Ochoa double bogeyed the 17th and bogeyed the 18th to finish at 1-over 73 and drop into a tie with South Korea's Jeong Jang and Mi Hyun Kim at 8 under.

Rumbling storm clouds that worried organizers and players finally gave way to sunshine halfway through the day. But the temperatures dropped to 79 degrees at the lakeside Alpine course, offering some relief from the heat wave across much of Europe.