Creamer chases second win at Rochester

Sunday, June 19, 2005

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Teenager Paula Creamer moved closer to her second victory in a month, shooting a 5-under 67 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over Mexico's Lorena Ochoa after three rounds of the Rochester LPGA.

The 18-year-old Creamer strung together three straight birdies from Nos. 15-17 to move to 10-under 206. The 23-year-old Ochoa, the second-round leader and a two-time winner last year, managed an even-par round at the Locust Hill course.

First-round leader Becky Morgan fired a 71 and was in third place at 7 under. Rosie Jones, looking for her third victory in Rochester, climbed into contention with a 67, moving to 6 under.

Creamer became the second-youngest first-time winner on the LPGA Tour at the Sybase Classic on May 23, five days before her high school graduation in Bradenton, Fla.

"It's good to have high school all done and move on," the rookie sensation said. "It's kind of like one chapter in my life is done."

Creamer offset a three-putt bogey at No. 2 with two straight birdies, chipping in from off the green one hole later and sinking a 30-foot putt at No. 4. She hit her tee shot on the par-3 ninth within 4 feet and made the birdie putt.

She put together another run starting at No. 15, making three birdies putts from 12, 4 and 5 feet. Creamer then scrambled to save par at the 18th after driving into the rough on the tree-lined hole, rolling in a 15-footer.

"Just making that putt makes me sleep better tonight," she said.

Ochoa had an unlucky start, bogeying No. 2 when her 4-foot putt rimmed the cup. She birdied the next hole, leaving her approach 2 inches away, and then sank a 20-foot putt for birdie at No. 6. She missed a birdie chance on the par-5 eighth, three-putting from about the same distance.

After eight straight pars, she had back-to-back bogeys before recovering with a birdie on the par-5 17th.

"It's OK to have a so-so round today," she said. "I'm hoping tomorrow is my good day."

Ochoa, a runner-up three times this year and third on the money list, came off a two-week break to tie for fifth at last week's LPGA Championship. She finished second in Rochester in her rookie year in 2003, then burst to prominence with two wins in 2004, setting tour records for birdies (442), rounds under par (75) and rounds in the 60s (51).

Second-year pro Mikaela Parmlid of Sweden, who was tied for 49th after two rounds, surged to 3 under and a tie for eighth with a 66, the day's best round.

Defending champion Kim Saiki, who broke a 12-year winless streak here last June, carded a 73 and moved to 2 over.

Annika Sorenstam skipped the $1.5 million tournament, sponsored by grocery store chain Wegmans, to prepare for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Cherry Hills. Despite 62 career LPGA victories, the Swede's best finish in four tries in Rochester was a second in 1996.

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