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New pro Lewis takes Open lead

EDINA, Minn. — Stacy Lewis is making her professional debut one to remember.

Nineteen days after she turned pro, Lewis showed the poise of a veteran Saturday at Interlachen with no bogeys and a 6-under 67 that gave her a one-shot lead over Paula Creamer going into the final round of the U.S. Women's Open.

Lewis, a former NCAA champion at Arkansas, might have been the only one not surprised to see her name atop the leader board.

”I've accomplished my goal for the week,“ Lewis said. ”It was just to put myself in contention. And whatever happens tomorrow, it happens. I hope I win. I want to win ... probably more than anybody here. But I have to hit a lot of good golf shots before I win this golf tournament.“

And she will have to hold off a half-dozen players within four shots of the lead, starting with Creamer.

Creamer is two years younger but in her fourth season on the LPGA Tour with six victories, enough for some to already anoint the 21-year-old as the best player without a major.

She had a chance to share the 54-hole lead with Lewis until missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 69.

Lewis was at 9-under 210 to set up an all-American final group at the U.S. Women's Open for the first time in five years.

Helen Alfredsson of Sweden stayed close to the lead throughout an afternoon of scattered clouds at Interlachen and came in at 71 to finish two shots out of the lead at 7-under 212, along with Inbee Park (71).

Lorena Ochoa played the first four holes in 4 over and wound up with a 76, her highest score of the week, to end her chances. She was at 4-over 223.

Three-time Open champion Annika Sorenstam is retiring at the end of the year, and she wasted another day filled with birdie opportunities by converting only two of them in a round of 72 that left her seven shots behind.

”I'm about to cry,“ she said. ”When you do everything you can and then it just doesn't happen ... I cannot hit the ball any better. I cannot put myself in a better position. And I really don't know what to do.

”I'm not giving up. I'm going to tell you that.“

Lewis' month began on the Old Course at St. Andrews on June 1, where she became the first player in Curtis Cup history to go 5-0 in leading the Americans to another victory. She turned pro on June 9, and won her Women's Open qualifier that day by four shots.

”I only play in golf tournaments to win,“ she said with quiet conviction, not bravado. ”I'm not here to make the cut or finish top 10 or do any of that. I'm here to win. People might see that as arrogant, but I think if you're not here to win, you're never going to be successful.“

Chopra takes over at Buick

GRAND BLANC, Mich. — Daniel Chopra shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to reach 16 under at the Buick Open and take a two-shot lead into the final round. He made a 15-foot putt for birdie on the last hole after Dudley Hart bogeyed it to earn a cushion.

”It makes my job a little easier, but not a lot,“ Chopra said.

Hart (70), Bubba Watson (68) and Woody Austin (69) were 14 under.

”Luckily, none of the leaders went low,“ Austin said. ”So there wasn't a big separation.“

Second-round leader Bo Van Pelt (73) was another shot back along with Kentuckian Kenny Perry (67), the highest-ranked player in a lackluster field that includes just three of the top 30 players in the world.

Chopra said any of the 10 players who are 12 under or better have a chance to win at Warwick Hills, one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour.

”It's going to be an absolute shootout,“ he predicted.

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