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Originally published Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 7:40 PM

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Karin Sjodin to challenge Yani Tseng for major title

Swede, though, takes No. 216 ranking into final round

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Sweden's Karin Sjodin shot a steady 4-under 68 through heavy wind while chasing down top-ranked Yani Tseng on Saturday, pulling even at 9 under heading into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The dominant Tseng proved she's not unbeatable, showing visible frustration while posting a 71 as inconsistent as the wind that buffeted Mission Hills.

While Tseng is a five-time major champion, the long-hitting Sjodin has never won in seven seasons on the LPGA Tour. Yet Sjodin made just one bogey in a remarkable round, briefly taking the outright lead down the stretch.

"The day was just kind of smooth," said Sjodin, who kept playing despite apparently dislocating one of her ribs Friday. "I never felt like I was ever in trouble. ... It feels great to be there. I don't know if I've really had time to think about it much. It's going to be fun tomorrow, definitely."

Haeji Kang, who also has never won on the LPGA Tour, was two strokes back after struggling to a 72. She will join Tseng and Sjodin in the final group Sunday. World No. 2 Na Yeon Choi was among five players at 6 under.

Sjodin is among the few LPGA Tour pros who can compete with Tseng off the tee, but the Oklahoma State alumnus is ranked 216th.

Sjodin hasn't yet reached the enormous potential suggested by her driving abilities, but the 28-year-old smiled throughout her third round after beginning the day three strokes back.

For three rounds, Sjodin has matched Tseng, who has won the last two tournaments and three of five so far this season, leading 10 of the past 11 rounds on the LPGA Tour. The 23-year-old Tseng is shooting to become the youngest six-time major winner in golf history.

Wendy Ward, from Edwall near Spokane, had a 71 for a 2-over 218 total.

Oosthuizen

breaks clear

HUMBLE, Texas — Louis Oosthuizen shot his second consecutive 6-under 66 to reach 17 under and take a two-shot lead over Hunter Mahan after the third round of the Houston Open.

The 29-year-old South African shook off two early bogeys with four consecutive birdies on a sunny, windy afternoon at Redstone. Mahan had a 65, rebounding from a bogey on No. 9 with four birdies on the back nine.

Carl Pettersson (67) and Brian Davis (69) were three strokes back at 14 under.

Seattle native Fred Couples (71 for 5-under 211 total) and Bremerton's Troy Kelly (72 for 2-under 214) will be only local golfers playing Sunday. Kyle Stanley (75-217) of Gig Harbor and Ryan Moore (85-222) of Puyallup will earn a paycheck, but play just three rounds. Former Husky Richard H. Lee missed the two-round cut with a 2-over 146.

NOTE

Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark made four birdies and an eagle for a 5-under 67 to lead the Sicilian Open by three strokes heading to the final round in Sciacca.

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