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
"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
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.