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Inkster unaffected by average round

Normally, a round with one birdie would be bad news. All it did to Juli Inkster was cut into her lead.

Stung by a bogey on the back nine, Inkster recovered with eagle two holes later and finished 2-under 70 Saturday to lead Laura Diaz and Dorothy Delasin by two shots in the Welch's/Circle K Classic.

Strong gusts made for tricky approach shots and putts, and Inkster's relatively bad score a day after shooting 64 cost her one stroke. She tied Annika Sorenstam's 54-hole record of 16-under 200.

"I just didn't make any putts," Inkster said. "Yesterday I could have hockey-pucked it and it would have gone in. Today I couldn't get anything to go in."

Diaz shot 68 and Delasin 69 to stay close to the 41-year-old Inkster, the 1999 Tucson winner.

Sorenstam, the winner the past two years, made a strong charge to get into position for a run at her third title. She birdied six of the first 12 and finished at 67, tied with Mi Hyun Kim (66) and Nancy Scranton (72) at 205.

The seven-player group at 206 included 1988 Tucson winner Laura Davies (70) and amateur Lorena Ochoa, a sophomore at Arizona, who shot 69. Ochoa has won her past six college tournaments.

Karrie Webb, trying to regain the form that made her the tour's player of the year in 1999 and 2000, shot 70 to finish seven back with 13 players in front and 18 holes left.

Sorenstam won last year by six shots over Michelle McGann, Diaz, Dottie Pepper and Se Ri Pak at 23 under, a tournament record.

Neither Diaz nor Delasin has won on tour, a sharp contrast to Inkster's 26 victories and LPGA Hall of Fame membership. She has won 12 of the 23 times she took a lead into the final.

"I'm a good front-runner," Inkster said. "I don't give too many away. I'm going to work hard tomorrow."

In her past 10 appearances in Tucson, Inkster has finished no lower than seventh five times and been out of the top 25 once.

FLORIDA FUTURES CHALLENGE: LPGA nonexempt player Sue Ginter-Brooker shot 4-under 68 (6-under 138) to take the second-round lead by one in Lakeland. Kelly Lagedrost of Brooksville shot 74-74, but St. Petersburg's Shane Smith (77-75), Trish Ziegel (82-78) and Bradenton's Sue Ertl (76-77) missed the 151 cut.

MADEIRA ISLAND OPEN: Ivo Giner and Maarten Lefeber were tied for the lead at 8 under with two holes left when rain halted the third round in Portugal. Friday's leaders, Andrew Oldcorn and Massimo Florioli, were at 7 under in the European PGA event.

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