Ochoa miscue leaves Pak on cusp of slam

Associated Press • Mar 31, 2007 at 11:33 AM

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Se Ri Pak kept her mistakes to a minimum, finished with a 35-foot birdie putt and now stands one round away from becoming the seventh woman to complete the career grand slam.

Lorena Ochoa made a whopper that might cost her a chance to win her first major and move to No. 1 in the world.

The 25-year-old Mexican star whiffed a flop shot on her way to a quadruple bogey on the par-3 17th hole Saturday, leaving Pak and Suzann Pettersen atop the Kraft Nabisco leaderboard in a major that no one seems to want to win.

Pak overcame some short-game gaffes over the closing holes with a birdie putt from the back of the green that dropped on its final turn, leaving her with a 2-under 70 and a chance to capture the last leg of the grand slam. Pettersen chipped to 18 inches for tap-in birdie on the 18th for a 71 that allowed her to join Pak at 4-under 212.

Pak will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame later this year, and would love nothing more than to have the career grand slam on her list of achievements when she gets there.

"You can't really think of that out," Pak said. "There's just so much trouble out there. Even par is a good score."

Paula Creamer had a wedge into the par-5 18th and walked off with a three-putt bogey for a 73 that put her one shot behind along with Meaghan Francella (69). Big-hitting Brittany Lincicome eagled the final hole for a 71 and was another shot behind.

But the buzz came from Ochoa, for all the wrong reasons.

She was one shot behind Creamer on the 17th when her tee shot clipped a tree and her pitch to a back left pin went long into grass so deep she could barely see the ball. Trying to hit a flop shot, the club slid under the ball. Her fourth shot ran down the ridge some 45 feet away. Three putts later she had a 7 on her card and was no longer in the top 10.

Ochoa wound up with a 77 and was five shots behind.

"I was one behind, and suddenly I'm way back," she said. "I'm OK. I'm happy to be here for tomorrow. I'm glad I'll be playing behind now. I have nothing to lose."

Houston Open

HUMBLE, Texas - Rookie Johnson Wagner took advantage of a rain-softened course and calm conditions to shoot a course-record 8-under 64 in the rain-delayed Houston Open.

Wagner was 11 under, four strokes behind Bubba Watson. The big-hitting Watson was 9 under through 15 holes and 15 under overall when play was suspended because of darkness. Watson was one of 27 players who will complete the round this morning.

Jeff Maggert, playing with Watson, was 12 under. Adam Scott and Paul Stankowski shot 65s just ahead of the suspension of play to match Wagner at 11 under.

Thunderstorms dumped 1½ inches of rain on the Tournament Course at Redstone on Saturday morning, postponing the start of the third round for six hours.

The players went off in threesomes in the early afternoon and were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the soggy fairways.

Ginn Championship

PALM COAST, Fla. - Keith Fergus moved into position for his first Champions Tour victory, shooting a 5-under 67 - his second straight bogey-free round - to take a one-stroke lead in the Ginn Championship.

Fergus, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, birdied all four par-5 holes and parred the last four holes - the most difficult test on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Hammock Beach course at the Ocean Club - to finish at 10-under 134.

Brad Bryant, who shared the first-round lead with Fergus, shot a 68 to join Tom Purtzer (66) at 9 under. Mark O'Meara (67) and Joe Ozaki (68) were 8 under.

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