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Creamer, tied for lead, tries to end drought

The SportsXchange

SYLVANIA, Ohio -- Paula Creamer and Beatriz Recari of Spain both shot bogey-free 4-under-par 67s on Saturday and were tied for the lead, three shots ahead of the field after three rounds of the LPGA Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club.

Creamer, who has won nine times on the LPGA Tour but not since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open, carded birdies at Nos. 4, 9, 13 and 17.

The 2008 Marathon Classic champion is excited to have a chance to add her name to a trophy for the first time in over three years.

"This is what I want," Creamer said. "I've never made a secret of how much I like to win and be in contention. But at the same time, I haven't given myself this opportunity too many times (recently).

"It's here and we'll see how I can handle it tomorrow."

Creamer has had many close calls this season, recording nine top-15 finishes. She hopes that stringing together four rounds of consistent golf in a row will end the dry spell.

"I started off a lot better than I have in recent events and put myself in a good spot after Thursday, came out and played well on Friday and today I kept it going," Creamer said.

"The first couple rounds are better than what they've been in the past."

The biggest obstacle standing in Creamer's way is Recari, who matched her shot-for-shot on Saturday to set up another potential showdown in Sunday's final group.

Recari, seeking her third LPGA Tour victory and second of the season, birdied the last two holes and was tied for the lead with Creamer for the second consecutive day, this time at 12-under 201.

She opened with a birdie at the first and then made 11 consecutive pars until her birdie at No. 13.

"I started with a birdie and then I had some really good chances that didn't go in," said Recari, who captured the Kia Classic earlier this season. "But I stayed patient out there and it was great to finish birdie-birdie.

The final round could turn into match play between Creamer and Recari if they continue to play the have.

However, they cannot forget about their pursuers.

"It's definitely easy (to get caught up in that) because you're playing the player closest to you," Recari said. "You still have to do your best because you can't control what (Creamer or anyone else) does.

"You always have to stay focused on what you're doing."

Joining them in the last group and trying to come from behind will be 18-year-old Lexi Thompson, who also fired a 67 on Saturday to jump into a tie for third with Chie Arimura of Japan, who posted a 68, and Jacqui Concolino, who shot 69.

"I hit it really well today," Thompson said. "I still left a few putts out there, but that's golf. Hopefully, I can drain them tomorrow. I feel really good, I just need to work on the same things I've been working on."

Thompson became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history when she captured the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic, breaking the record set by Marlene Hagge, who was 18 when she won the 1952 Sarasota Open.

The teenager said she has made an emphasis to improve her consistency, ball striking and trusting each shot.

"I've been working on trusting my targets and picking out a target and just visualizing my shot," Thompson said. "That's what I've been doing, and I think I've committed pretty good to it."

Thompson birdied Nos. 3, 8, 13 and 16 to get to 9-under. She nearly reached the par-5 18th hole in two and had a pitch of about 35 yards remaining for her third shot.

She nearly jarred her pitch, but left herself a 10-foot putt after a hard bounce forward. Thompson left her putt barely short and had to settle for par and a tie for third.

"I had a chance on the hole before it, too," Thompson said. "I hit a good putt on the last hole, so I can't get too frustrated, just a misread."

NOTES: Inbee Park, the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's World Rankings, struggled on Saturday to a 73 and was tied for 23rd. Park, seeking her seventh LPGA Tour victory of the season, began the third round only two shots out of the lead. ... Alison Walshe started her round tied for the lead, but fell out of the top 10 after shooting 73. ... Angela Stanford carded a 64, the best round of the day, to climb into a tie for 11th.
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