Defending champ Tseng takes charge at Kraft

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Stacy Lewis' three-shot lead dwindled to one after four holes, and it vanished after the turn. Nearly every time Lewis missed an opportunity, Yani Tseng jumped all over her, to the delight of Tseng's sizable cheering section.

Lewis learned just how tough it will be to get between the world's top-ranked player and a rare repeat victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Tseng roared into the lead with a third-round 66 Saturday, moving two shots ahead of Lewis at 12-under 204 in the LPGA Tour's first major of the year. "I just want to keep smiling all day (today) and have a lot of fun," Tseng said. "I (won) it before, so I just want to do it again."

Tseng showed a defending champion's confidence with her aggressive, powerful play at Mission Hills, shooting the round's low score. She erased the three-shot lead of playing partner Lewis (71) in the first seven holes before going ahead on the 11th.

"I hit it in the rough all day, just struggling to make pars," Lewis said. "I'm just really glad for it to be over."

Morgan Pressel (69) was four shots off the lead in third. Michelle Wie (69) was six back in fourth, staying in the hunt for her first major title. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 2-over 74 and was in a group at 4 under.

Tseng, from Taiwan, had the backing of about 300 boisterous fans from nearby Beaumont, Calif., where she and her mother lived for about three years while she practiced and attempted to qualify for the tour.

PGA: Phil Mickelson shot his lowest round in two years, tying the course record with 9-under 63 to join Scott Verplank atop the Houston Open leaderboard through three rounds on the Tournament Course at Redstone in Humble, Texas. Verplank shot his second straight 65 to catch Mickelson at 13-under 203. Aaron Baddeley (66) and second-round leader Chris Kirk (69) were one stroke back. "I feel like the momentum that you can gain by playing well at the Houston Open can be a real plus heading to Augusta," Mickelson said, referring to the Masters, which begins Thursday.

Champions: Tom Lehman broke the course record with 8-under 64, taking a one stroke lead over Jeff Sluman after the second round of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak in Saucier, Miss. He was at 13-under 131. Sluman shot a bogey-free 66 for the second straight day.

Defending champ Tseng takes charge at Kraft 04/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 11:50pm]

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