HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — Paula Creamer acknowledges she often lets her emotions get the better of her.
On Saturday, she vowed to be steady and keep her head in check.
It paid off as Creamer birdied the final three holes for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead over Angela Stanford in the Samsung World Championship.
“Yesterday, my attitude and my mannerisms got me in trouble,” Creamer said.
The Californian had a 6-under 210 total.
Stanford led for much of the day but hurt herself with two double bogeys on the back nine. She birdied the final two holes for a 69.
Australian Katherine Hull eagled No. 4 and also birdied 18 for a 69 to stay within two strokes of the lead on a day when birdies were hard to come by for everybody in the elite 20-player field.
“It’s not a birdie-fest out there by any means,” Creamer said. “I’ve never seen a scoreboard go up and down so much in a tournament. Early on people have been starting off so well and haven’t been able to finish.”
Two-time defending Samsung champion Lorena Ochoa shot a 70, leaving her two strokes back. She’s seeking her eighth victory of the year and wants to take advantage of her powerful long game on the course’s five par 5s come Sunday.
Ochoa narrowly missed several birdie putts while watching Stanford come up big time and again with accuracy in both her short and long games. They played a fast-paced front nine minus the changing wind that was such a nuisance Friday.
“I’m putting very well,” said Stanford, who made a 25-footer for birdie on the par-3 ninth. “If you can get the ball rolling and putt well out here, you can make some birdies.”
Players hit through a light drizzle at times on a cool fall day in the Bay Area but the rain never lasted for long.
Creamer, who had birdied only No. 7 before her strong finish, played solid par golf all day and didn’t have a bogey. She would like nothing more than to capture the $250,000 winner’s purse while playing near her hometown of Pleasanton. Five times out of nine Creamer has gone on to win after leading entering the final day, including twice this year.
Juli Inkster (68) jumped up the leaderboard and for a short time got to 4-under after going 5-under with five birdies for the day through the first 10 holes. She had bogeys on Nos. 12, 13 and 15 to go to 3-under 213 for the tournament. Also three strokes back is Suzann Pettersen after she shot a 69.
Stanford followed her double eagle from a day earlier with another strong round.
The 30-year-old Texan, bothered on most shots Friday by the troublesome left shoulder, was clearly relaxed and enjoying herself – while Ochoa appeared frustrated at times during her round on the Half Moon Bay Golf Links’ Ocean Course.
Ochoa bogeyed No. 1 and then her tee shot on the second hole sailed left into the soggy rough. She chipped out of it to five feet of the cup and made the birdie putt, pumping her right fist as the gallery roared. But Ochoa didn’t have many of those.
“Today I really left a lot of birdies out there,” Ochoa said. “I hope tomorrow to make a couple of birdies early to give me a good rhythm.”
Stanford will try to make it two titles in two tournaments, covering a three-week span after she was forced to withdraw from last week’s Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala., won by Ochoa because her shoulder was in so much pain.
Stanford’s double bogey on No. 13 was her first bad hole of the day, then she did it again on 15. On No. 4, where Stanford had her rare double eagle Friday, she had to settle for par.
“Let’s get another double eagle today – yeah, baby!” one fan yelled. Stanford smiled and acknowledged him.
She birdied No. 7 after hitting her tee shot across the water hazard to within three feet of the pin and nailing the putt to get to 4-under. Stanford also had three straight birdies on Nos. 9-11 before a double bogey on 13 – the same hole on which Ochoa had her second double bogey Friday.
Ochoa likes her position after a tough back nine Friday cost her the lead. Last week marked her seventh victory of the year and first since May. She had been winless in seven starts after opening the year with six wins in nine events, including four straight.
Ochoa has come from behind to win five times in her career, most recently at the 2007 Sybase Classic in which she trailed by two strokes but shot a final-round 68 to win by three strokes.
“We all have an opportunity to win tomorrow. I’m in a very good position right now,” Ochoa said. “I’m hitting the ball as good as I hit it in February. The win last week helped a lot. It gave me comfort. I was calm on Sunday. I will try to repeat that tomorrow.”