A Pink Week So Far


Paula is playing so well she broke out her trademark pink ball on early this week.

SYLVANIA, Ohio (AP) -- Paula Creamer is finding out how hard it is to win while leading from start to finish on the LPGA Tour.

The rest of the field is discovering how hard it is to catch her.

Creamer shot a 1-under 70 on Saturday, 10 more shots than she needed in the first round, but still held a four-stroke lead after three rounds of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

"You know, winning wire-to-wire -- that's difficult to do," said Creamer, who stands at 18-under 195 through 54 holes at Highland Meadows. "There's a lot of pressure on you in that situation, especially when you shoot a 60 the first day and anything higher than that everybody thinks, 'What's going on? What's wrong?'"

South Korea's Eun-Hee Ji was in second place looking up at Creamer, as she has been after all three rounds. She shot a 68 to cut two strokes off Creamer's lead but wasn't pleased with her own play.

"Today you could see that Paula didn't have her best day, but at the same time I wasn't really having my A game as well," Ji said through an interpreter.

Ji could easily have made an even bigger dent in the lead. She cut it to three strokes when she birdied the 11th hole while Creamer, playing in the same group, was three-putting for a bogey. Creamer recovered with birdies at the 13th and 17th holes. Ji was 1 under for the final seven holes and missed two short birdie putts that could have drawn her closer.

Ji, playing her first full year on the tour, missed a 10-footer at No. 16. Then, moments after Creamer saved par with a 7-foot putt at the closing hole, Ji missed a 6-footer for birdie.

Creamer said she was fortunate to still have such a big lead.

The 21-year-old Californian, who set the course record with her opening 60, had a 65 in the second round during which she said she hit three or four "terrible" shots. She called her wedge from 80 yards out on the final hole "awful."

"Obviously I wasn't very pleased with the way I played today," she said. "But at the same time I have a pretty significant lead going into tomorrow."

Creamer said she would try to forget about the 72-hole tournament record (23-under, by five-time winner Se Ri Pak) or the pressures of winning wire-to-wire.

"I'm just going to play it like we are both even, like it's a one-day tournament," she said.

Rachel Hetherington, winner of the Farr in 2002, had a 67 and was alone in third at 202.

"It's tough to gain much when everybody is playing well and birdieing," Hetherington said. "You need to shoot an exceptional score, like Karrie Webb did today, shooting 9 under. You're going to jump a lot of places."

With her 62, Webb went from a tie for 50th to a tie for fourth with Chinese rookie Shanshan Feng, who shot a 64. They were both at 203.

"I was playing my best ball-striking round of the year," said Webb, a winner of seven major championships and 28 other tour events in her Hall of Fame career.

She said she changed putters after her 70 in the first round and before a second-round 71.

Asked why she made the switch she cracked, "I couldn't be any worse."

Defending champion Se Ri Pak, trying to become the first LPGA player to win the same tournament six times, had a 72 that left her 14 shots back.

The lead threesome had to wait more than an hour to tee off when play was delayed because of a thunderstorm that rumbled through Toledo and its suburbs. Heavy rain was expected overnight, forcing organizers to again go to threesomes off both tees in the final round.

Creamer, No. 1 in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings and third on the money list behind Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, will go for her seventh career win and third of the year. She won tournaments in Hawaii and Tulsa, but is trying to erase bad final rounds in each of her last two starts.

She lapsed to a 78 to fall into a tie for sixth in the U.S. Women's Open two weeks ago, then knocked herself out of contention with a closing 74 a week ago in Arkansas.

"I really haven't done much the last two days," she said.

Almost as a reminder to herself and the rest of the field, she added, "My lead has kind of gotten smaller and smaller -- but I still have a four-shot lead."