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Creamer leading SemGroup event



Published: Sun, May 4, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

Lorena Ochoa lost momentum.

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) — Paula Creamer made two long birdie putts to pull away from the field Saturday in the SemGroup Championship, only to drop two shots on the closing holes for the third straight day to give her challengers a chance.

But that small group chasing her doesn’t include the player everyone expected to see.

Lorena Ochoa, going for her record-tying fifth straight LPGA Tour victory, lost momentum with back-to-back bogeys and wound up eight shots behind, needing the best comeback of her career.

“I still think I can win,” Ochoa said. “I think Annika [Sorenstam] won before coming from 10 shots behind. It could happen.”

It doesn’t look likely, even with Creamer still trying to figure out how to stop making bogeys with the finish line in sights. A three-putt on the 16th and a bogey from the bunker on the 18th gave her a 2-under 69 and a two-shot lead over Juli Inkster.

“When I was on the 15th green, my goal was to have a five-shot lead,” Creamer said. “But I’m not going to complain.”

Inkster, a 47-year-old with two daughters and seven majors, turned in a tournament-best 67 in more blustery conditions, ending her solid round with a 20-foot par putt on the 18th hole after trouble in the trees.

“I got myself in position to at least give it a run,” Inkster said.

Creamer was at 3-under 210 and will play in the final pairing Sunday with Inkster, at 212 the only other player under par.

Brittany Lang, who tied for second at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open while still an amateur, had a 71 to finish at 1-over 214, with Angela Stanford (71) and Leta Lindley (72) another shot behind.

Ochoa closed with six pars for an even-par 71 and was at 5-over 218, putting her in unfamiliar territory. She has won five of her six tournaments this year by a combined 37 shots.

“We’re looking at it from a different perspective,” she said. “I’m going to be positive and hopefully do good tomorrow.”

The way Creamer is playing, it might not matter.

But Creamer is playing well enough that even Ochoa’s best golf might not be good enough.

Coming off a playoff loss in Florida, the 21-year-old made birdies on some of the toughest holes and rarely had to work for pars. Her boost came from an unlikely birdie, some 50 feet below the hole at No. 9 that produced the loudest cheer at Cedar Ridge all week.


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