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Yani Tseng
Yani Tseng

Tseng, Sjoden share first through three rounds Add to ...

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Yani Tseng's grip on the Kraft Nabisco Championship was loosened by strong winds and superb play by Swede Karin Sjodin in Saturday's third round.

The Taiwanese world number one, hunting her sixth major victory, ended a challenging day at Mission Hills by carding a one-under-par 71 to hold a share of the lead with Sjodin, who fired a 68.

Tseng, who has triumphed three times in just five starts on the LPGA Tour this season, began the round a stroke in front and had to settle for a nine-under total of 207 after narrowly missing a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-five last.

The long-hitting Sjodin, seeking her first win on the U.S. circuit, surged to the top of the leaderboard by mixing five birdies with a lone bogey as winds gusted up to 25 mph (40 kph) in the California desert.

South Korea's Kang Haeji was alone in third place at seven under after returning a 72 in the penultimate round of the first women's major of the year.

Na Yeon Choi is among five South Korean players who are all tied at 6 under.

Lorie Kane of Charlottetown shot an even round 72 to sit at 3-over par while Hamilton's Alena Sharp carded a 73 for a three day total of 5-over par.

For three rounds, Sjodin has matched Tseng, who has won the last two tournaments and three of five so far this season, leading 10 of the last 11 rounds on the LPGA Tour. The 23-year-old Tseng is shooting to become the youngest six-time major winner in golf history, even three years younger than Tiger Woods.

But Tseng knew she might be in trouble when serious wind hit the Dinah Shore tournament course right about when Tseng and Kang teed off in the final twosome of the day.

"For the front nine, I played very solid, especially in this wind," said Tseng, who also has plenty of experience in bad-weather golf growing up in Taiwan. "I don't think it was as tough as I thought, so maybe I was prepared for this. But on the back nine, I got kind of emotional, maybe thinking too much, trying too hard to play better."

Tseng dropped back to 9 under with a bogey on the seventh hole, and Sjodin briefly grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie putt on the 11th before Tseng birdied the 10th.

But Tseng was put on the clock on the next hole, and she bogeyed the 11th with a poor tee shot. She then missed a 2-foot par putt on the 13th hole, staring at her ball blankly after it toured the rim of the cup before popping back out.

She fell back to 8 under and a tie with Sjodin, but reclaimed the lead with a birdie putt on the next hole.

"I'm glad this happened today instead of tomorrow," Tseng said. "I was just thinking too much and trying too hard. It's good to find out earlier."

Sjodin pulled back into the lead with a birdie putt on the 16th while Tseng bogeyed the 15th after a poor shot out of a bunker. Tseng pulled even with Sjodin yet again with a birdie on the par-3 17th with a beautiful 6-iron shot.

Sjodin has never finished higher than 19th in her 18 majors, and has only four top-10 finishes in her career.

Files from the Associated Press were used in this report

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