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Tseng tied for the lead with Sjodin
March 31, 2012

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng will have a chance to avenge her loss at last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship as she enters Sunday's final round tied for the lead at 9-under-par with Sweden native Karin Sjodin. Tseng, who led by two shots after the second round of play, fired a 1-under 71 on Saturday. The No. 1 player in the world appeared to be battling through her third round as the winds picked up at Mission Hills Country Club during afternoon play.

The strong wind, which was steady at 18-20 mph for much of the afternoon and gusted up to 30 mph, didn't seem to bother Sjodin. She fired a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for the lead with Tseng. Sjodin will face quite a challenge as she goes for her first career win, as Tseng has won four of the last eight majors on the LPGA Tour.

It could prove to be an exciting finish at the season's first major as a total of nine players sit within four shots of the leaders. Haeji Kang is one shot back at 8-under while Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi and 2009 U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji are among a group of five players at 6-under-par.

Tseng is paired with Karin Sjodin and Haeji Kang tomorrow, neither of whom has won on the LPGA Tour. Last year, Tseng was paired with Stacy Lewis, who defeated the world No. 1 to become a Rolex First-Time Winner. Time will tell whether history repeats itself. Sjodin has just four top-10 finishes to her credit in a seven-year career on the LPGA. Kang, once an accomplished amateur golfer in Australia and New Zealand, has two top-10's in four years on Tour. Neither has played in the lead group during the final round of a major championship.

Yani Tseng clearly remembers the struggles that she had over her final nine holes of the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship. During last year's final round, Tseng shot a 38 on the back nine of Mission Hills Country Club to lose by three shots to Stacy Lewis.

The score on her back nine wasn't quite as bad for Tseng on Saturday, having posted a 36 this time, but Tseng said it felt reminiscent of the problems she found on those holes in this championship last year.

"Today when I played Back 9 it's kind of for me a little memory of last year on Sunday, the Back 9," Tseng said. "I just feel like I wasn't comfortable with myself a little bit and just thinking too much and trying too hard. It's good to find out early. You still have that problem a little bit. So tomorrow I just want to go there and try to play my best and play one shot at a time and just have fun and just really enjoy as much as I can tomorrow."

Sjodin injured her rib on Friday, but took precautions on Saturday to avoid further injury. She said that it was an unusual injury and one that caught her off guard.

"When I walked between 9 and 10 yesterday something happened and I had a hard time breathing and had to ask for the medical... to come out and tried to pop something back in place," said Sjodin. "I don't know if it's dislocated, if that's the word that people use."

Saturday's warm weather may have helped ease the pain during the third round.

"Around the turn it started hurting, but then it kind of went away again," she said. "So I think the heat probably helps it when it's warm out."

Yani Tseng became the youngest golfer in history - male or female - to win five career majors at the 2011 RICOH Women's British Open. On Sunday, she'll attempt to become the youngest to a win six major championships.

Tseng will be 23 years, 2 months and 9 days on Sunday. Below are a few of the youngest players to reach the six career majors mark.

Player Age of Sixth Win Sixth Major Win Total Major Wins
Tiger Woods 26 yrs, 3 mths, 9 days 2001 Masters 14
Mickey Wright 26 yrs, 4 mths, 17 days 1961 U.S. Women's Open 13
Jack Nicklaus 26 yrs, 5 mths, 18 days 1966 British Open 18
Karrie Webb 27 yrs, 7 mths, 21 days 2002 RICOH Women's Open 7

Yani Tseng won the final major of the 2011 season when she captured the RICOH Women's British Open last July. If Tseng can pull out a victory at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship, she would become the 15th player to win at least two consecutive majors. The last player to accomplish the feat was Lorena Ochoa, who won the 2007 RICOH Women's British Open and the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

A victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship would give Yani Tseng two more points toward qualifying for the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame. Tseng currently has 23 points so a win would put her just two points away toward reaching the first criterion of Hall of Fame induction, which is 27 points. Players must also have 10 years of service on the LPGA Tour for induction.

Haeji Kang will play in the leaders group tomorrow and kept herself in contention for her first career win after shooting an even-par 72, putting her a 7-under after three rounds and two shots off the lead. Kang went into the turn at 2-over, bogeying back-to-back holes on Nos. 6 and 7, but dug herself out of what looked like a deep hole. She eagled the 11th hole and considered it her saving grace.

"After that eagle, that kind of saved me," said Kang. "It got some endorphins out of me. So I think obviously that helped out a lot.

"I hit a good solid drive, but a little left, was in a short-cut rough, so I hit a 5-wood. It was about 232, and I felt it was the club. I hit it perfectly and it was a little short of the green. I putted about a 30-footer in, so it was a good eagle."

LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Lorena Ochoa was on site at Mission Hills Country Club on Saturday, not playing in the field but promoting her foundation, something that she has turned all of her attention to after her playing career. Ochoa who won the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship spoke about her post career endeavors.

"I always said that when I finished playing in the LPGA, that I still wanted to be active and wanted to be involved with this," said Ochoa. "Fortunately the foundation is my No. 1 priority, and what we do with the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation is try to reach out to the minorities, and especially families for little girls, little boys, for them to be able to play golf, to get that first golf club in their hands, to play some balls, to feel comfortable.

"The mission of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation is to provide opportunities for family through health, education and inclusion programs all delivered through family golf activities, so in a nutshell golf is our vehicle for introducing healthier lifestyles to entire families."

Every 17-year old goes through the stressful process of finding a prom date and Rolex Rankings No. 36 Lexi Thompson is no different, although she may go through with it in a uncustomary way.

"I'm going to prom," said Thompson. "My sponsors are setting it up to make it like a fun creative way."

Thompson, who is home-schooled, said she will attend Coral Glades High School prom and looks forward to a night every teenager remember.

"It's going to be a fun night," said Thompson. "That's all I can say."

Na Yeon Choi sank her third career hole-in-one on Saturday with a 3 hybrid from 176 yards. She was the second player this week at the Kraft Nabisco to card an ace as Jenny Shin holed out on the 17th hole in the second round.

Double points in the Rolex Player of the Year race, double points in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race and double points in the U.S. Solheim Cup Team race are all on the line tomorrow.

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