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Nordqvist weathers storm to retain lead

SWEDEN'S Anna Nordqvist rolled in a 20-foot putt to birdie the 15th hole for a one shot lead at the LPGA Championship in Maryland when Saturday's third-round play was halted due to failing light.

The unlikely birdie lifted the tour rookie to 10-under par, one stroke better than Australian Lindsey Wright, who also completed 15 holes in a round that was interrupted for more than two hours because of a thunderstorm.

"Obviously, finishing with the birdie brings me some good momentum for tomorrow," the tall Swede told reporters.

Two shots behind Nordqvist was South Korean Choi Na-yeon at 8-under through 17 holes.

Choi was just about to tee off at the 18th when play was called. She hurled her golf ball away in disgust at the prospect of having to return on Sunday morning to finish the hole before starting the final round. Pak Jin-young was the leader in the clubhouse at 7-under 209, one shot better than compatriot Shin Jiyai.

Eight players were to return early to complete their rounds. The top four players on the leaderboard are all gunning for their first major championship and maiden LPGA Tour title, which would mirror last year's achievement by Yani Tseng.

"Obviously there's a disadvantage not finishing today," said Wright.

"I would love to be sleeping in tomorrow. But it's going to be a big day regardless."

Nordqvist, playing her first major as a professional, has said all through the event that this is a learning experience.

"I haven't done it before so we'll see," Nordqvist said.

Nordqvist began the hot, sunny day with a one-stroke lead over American Nicole Castrale, who bogeyed the second hole and the fifth to slip back.

The Swede made two birdies on the front nine of Bulle Rock to reach 10-under par, one better than Wright, who caught fire with three successive birdies from the sixth.

Two shots back was 21-year-old South Korea's Choi Na-yeon, who had four birdies in a blistering outward nine of 32 that lifted her to 9-under before a bogey at 11 pulled her back. Choi was very nearly another shot better as her tee shot at the 151-yard, par-3 seventh short-hopped the stick leaving her with a three-inch tap-in for birdie.

Michelle Wie topped Choi by making a hole-in-one at the seventh but the ace did not ignite a charge by the talented 19-year-old.

She posted a 1-over-par 73 for 1-over 217.

Just as Nordqvist was making the turn, skies darkened and heavy rain and flashes of lightning hit the course forcing 22 players to wait out the long delay. Other notable scores: Lorena Ochoa (73, 2 under), Juli Inkster (73, 1 over), and two-time US LPGA Championship winner Pak Se-ri (74, 4 over).


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