Rathdrum’s Tracy Hanson shot a 9-under-par 63 - the best round of her career - and took a two-stroke lead over Pat Bradley on Saturday after three rounds of the LPGA Oldsmobile Classic at East Lansing, Mich.
Hanson, 24, who has never won on the LPGA tour, had five straight birdies and nine for the round at the 6,191-yard Walnut Hills Country Club course.
“Overall, I stayed in a real consistent rhythm today,” said the former Lakeland High School standout, who is at 12-under 204 for the tournament. “I hit the ball close and putted really well. That rhythm was the key out there today.”
Second-round leader Emilee Klein, Michelle McGann, Alison Nicholas and Liselotte Neumann were all one stroke behind Bradley and one stroke ahead of four others.
Bradley capped a 71 with a 5-foot birdie putt on 18.
Klein, who was one stroke in front of Bradley starting the third round, had a 73. Neumann closed the most ground with of the group tied for third with a 67, while McGann had a 70 and Nicholas a 71.
Hanson, who hit all 18 greens in regulation during the third round, birdied 18 with a 15-foot putt. None of her other birdie putts was longer than 10 feet and her first five birdie putts were 4 feet or shorter.
“After the first couple of birdies, I felt good,” Hanson said. “After I birdied 10, from there I got in a zone and kept it going. Once I started on a roll it kept going for me.
“I have been hitting my irons better and when you hit it within 9 feet every time, it’s an exceptional day,” said Hanson, an NCAA champion at San Jose State.
Hanson admitted feeling a little pressure late in the round after seeing her name atop the leaderboard.
“I was nervous the last three or four holes. I didn’t really know how many birdies I had. Any time your name goes on the leaderboard leading the tournament, jitters creep in,” Hanson said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t try to protect (the lead). I wanted to stay aggressive.”
Hanson, who was sidelined for three months in 1993 after back surgery, said she is pleased with her game this year.
“I like this golf course and that’s one reason why I come back here. You can be aggressive and there are a lot of birdie opportunities out there,” she said.
Ernie Els’ 2-under 69 lengthened his lead to six strokes after three rounds of the Buick Classic as his pursuers melted away on greens made treacherous by a third straight day of sun, heat and wind.
Els’ 54-hole total of 13-under 200 was a stroke better than the mark set when the Westchester Country Club, in Harrison, N.Y., has played as a par 71. The previous record was held by David Graham (1976) and Andy North (1977).
The six-stroke lead tied Greg Norman at the Masters for the largest after three rounds this year on the U.S. tour.
Els’ closest pursuer heading into today’s final round is Tim Herron, who shot a 68 and was at 206. Steve Elkington, who shot a 70, and Craig Parry, 72, are at 208, while Fred Fund, Brad Faxon and Tom Lehman, who all shot the day’s low round of 67, are another stroke back.
Tom Weiskopf said he doesn’t practice golf much anymore, but his play at the Pittsburgh Senior Classic indicates otherwise.
Weiskopf shot a 5-under 67 at Quicksilver Golf Club in Midway, Pa., and took a comfortable three-stroke lead over Bob Eastwood at Quicksilver Golf Club.
“I think he does do more practicing than he probably admits,” said Eastwood, who was paired with Weiskopf and watched him hit greens and roll in putts all day. “Tom is hitting the ball well.”
Weiskopf, who had a 36-hole total of 9-under 135, plays the Senior PGA Tour part time and schedules tournaments around his golf course design business. On Saturday, he was able to shake off an openinghole bogey, making seven birdies and one bogey the rest of the way. He rolled in a 50-footer for birdie on the par-5 15th.
Hale Irwin and Dave Eichelberger were tied for third 139. Eichelberger, the winner here in 1994, when the tournament was known as the Quicksilver Classic, shot a 69. Irwin was at 6-under heading to 18, but three-putted for a bogey.
“When you shoot 29 on the front nine, 67 is an average score,” Marsh said. “When you have a 29, you have all kinds of aspirations, and 67 is not one of them.”
Arnold Palmer, who opened with a 69, had a 74.
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