Kim sharing the lead at the Houston Open

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Kim sharing the lead at the Houston Open

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Anthony Kim tees off on the 18th hole during the third round of the Houston Open PGA Tour on April 3. [AP/YONHAP]

HUMBLE, Texas - Anthony Kim roused himself from a sluggish start to shoot a third-round 69 for a share of the lead at the Houston Open on Saturday. Kim started with two bogeys in his first three holes but was able to battle back, thanks largely to a deft short game, and join Bryce Molder at the top of the leaderboard on a 10-under-par 206.

Kim and Molder, who shot a 71, are two strokes clear of fellow Americans Joe Ogilvie (71) and Vaughn Taylor (70), while Briton Lee Westwood is among a trio three shots back. Westwood stormed home with 31, 10 shots fewer than he went out.

“Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, just spraying the ball off the tee and hitting the worst shots I’ve probably hit this year, but I hung in there,” Kim told reporters.

“You want to fix your ball-striking and hit some fairways. I think I hit two fairways today. If I can hit a couple more tomorrow, I would be a little happier.”

Molder, the overnight leader, said it had been a tough day.

“I just couldn’t quite find the club in my swing,” he added.

“If you knew I had slept with the lead, you would assume that nerves got the best [of me] and part of that is probably true.”

Molder almost dropped from the top spot after finding water off the tee at 18 but salvaged a par by sinking a 15-foot putt. Ogilvie had charged to the front at 11-under after 15 holes, only to double bogey the par-three 16th after a poor tee shot.

“I only missed two shots and I made two bogeys and a double,” he said. “If I play like I did today, I’ll have a good chance tomorrow.”

Meanwhile in Rancho Mirage, California, Britain’s Karen Stupples, bidding for her second major title, birdied three of the first five holes on her way to a one-shot lead in the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship third round on Saturday.

The 36-year-old Englishwoman, a stroke off the pace overnight, fired a sparkling four-under-par 68 to head a high-quality leaderboard with a 10-under total of 206 at Mission Hills Country Club.

Stupples sank a curling 15-footer on the 17th green for her sixth birdie of the day and a brief two-shot cushion, prompting a series of celebratory punches into the air with her left fist.

Moments later, though, playing partners Yani Tseng of Taiwan and Norwegian Suzann Pettersen birdied the par-five last for matching 67s and a share of second place at nine under.

Overnight leader Kim Song-hee of South Korea carded a 72 to lie a further two strokes back in a tie for fourth with Mexican world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa (71).

Stupples, who played one group behind Tseng and Pettersen, lipped out from long range with her birdie attempt on 18 before tapping in for par to stay at 10 under.

“It’s huge for me,” the Briton said in a greenside interview after taking the 54-hole lead in the year’s opening major.

“It’s not so much that I have the lead, it’s the fact that I’m playing well.”


Reuters

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