Fiery pep talk spurs Stupples

Karen Stupples, who won the 2004 British Open, has a one-shot lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of 2010.

Associated Press

Karen Stupples, who won the 2004 British Open, has a one-shot lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of 2010.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Minutes before Karen Stupples teed off Saturday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, caddie Jerry Woodard got in her face to try to calm her nerves.

Stupples, who came into the round a shot behind Song-Hee Kim, said Woodard let her have it.

"He said, 'I know you're nervous. You're supposed to be nervous; this is what we're here for. You're playing great. Let's go and do it. Let's take it to the course. Rip the drive down the fairway.' "

It worked.

"I needed that routine," said Stupples, who shot 4-under 68 at Mission Hills to take a one-stroke lead into the final round, with six other majors winners within seven shots.

Stupples, 36, an English star who won the 2004 British Open, closed at 10-under 206 in the season's first major.

Now she'll try to stay ahead of a field that includes majors winners Suzann Pettersen, Yani Tseng, Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb, Kristie Kerr and Grace Park.

Will Stupples have a strong case of the nerves again?

"Honestly, I don't think they can be any worse than they were (Saturday) morning," she said. "In a way, all it will do is make me get out there and enjoy it. Look who I've got chasing me. How could I not enjoy that? That's called life. That's fantastic. That's more exciting than I can even tell."

Pettersen, the first-round leader who seemingly played herself out of contention with 73 on Friday, and Tseng shot 67s to reach 9 under.

Top-ranked Ochoa rebounded from a slow start with birdies on three of her last seven holes for 71 to join second-round leader Kim (72) at 7 under.

Webb (72), Kerr (74) and Park (69) were in the top nine, too. Webb was alone at 5 under, Kerr was tied with Brittany Lang (69) at 4 under, and Park was tied with five others, including Michelle Wie, at 3 under.

Playing with Ochoa, Stupples started strong with four birdies and just one bogey on the front nine to go to 9 under. She was fired up after rolling in a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th, pumping her left fist four times. Ochoa birdied No. 17, then birdied the par-5 18th to the delight of the crowd.

Stupples said being paired with the popular Ochoa was "a pretty good atmosphere to play in. It was cool. Very cool."

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, the defending champion, shot par 72 and is tied for 23rd, 10 shots back.

PGA: Kim, Molder lead

HUMBLE, Texas — Anthony Kim never knew where his tee shots were going. Bryce Molder never got control of his swing.

Both saved themselves with their short games and ended up tied for the third-round lead in the Houston Open.

Kim struggled off the tee but relied on good putting to shoot 3-under 69 that left him at 10-under 206. Molder, the second-round leader, made four bogeys and five birdies for 71.

Vaughn Taylor (70) and Joe Ogilvie (71) were two back after both bogeyed the 18th hole.

Kim missed 11 of 14 fairways off the tee but scrambled out of trouble all day.

"There were some spots (Saturday), I don't know how I got out," he said. "But I was happy to go ahead and hit some lucky shots and good shots and get away with it."

Molder hit his share of bad tee shots, too. He made three bogeys on the front then birdied two of the first three holes on the back, where he had seven one-putt greens.

"Luckily, my putter kind of held me in there," Molder said. "I always kind of know that if I can just kind of get it going the direction I want it to go, then I'm usually going to be okay."

Molder is winless in 88 career tour starts but can earn a spot in the Masters with a victory today.

Fiery pep talk spurs Stupples 04/04/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 4, 2010 12:03am]

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