Ward wards off field at Takefuji Classic

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005

LAS VEGAS #&151; Wendy Ward kept her cool and her touch around the greens Saturday for a wire-to-wire win in the Takefuji Classic, her first victory in nearly four years.

Ward closed with a 5-under 67 to hold off the charging Lorena Ochoa by two shots with a 16-under 200 total on The Las Vegas Country Club course.

Ward, the 1994 U.S. Women's Amateur champion, had five birdies and no bogeys on the way to her fourth career victory and first since 2001 in New Albany, Ohio.

Ochoa, who vaulted from a tie for 96th into a tie for fourth with a 63 the previous day, went low again, finishing with a 65.

Shi Hyun Ahn shot a 63 to tie for third at 13 under with Paula Creamer, an 18-year-old tour rookie who had a 65. Another teenager, amateur In-Bee Park, finished fifth at 12 under. Park, a 16-year-old from South Korea who is a Las Vegas high school junior, shot a 67.

MCI Heritage

Peter Lonard regained the lead in the MCI Heritage on Saturday, shooting a 5-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Darren Clarke, with five-time Harbour Town champion Davis Love III lurking close behind.

Lonard, the 37-year-old Australian seeking his first PGA Tour victory, had an 11-under 202 total. Clarke shot a 73 to drop to second, Rod Pampling (68) was third at 6 under, and Love (69) followed at 5 under.

Lonard, who won the Australian Open and Australian PGA in consecutive weeks late last year, takes a lead into the final round for the first time in four tour seasons. He doesn't expect the new position to change his routine.

''In theory, it shouldn't be any different,'' Lonard said. ''I'll relax, have a few beers and talk rubbish with my mates. I'll do the same things I've always done.

Clarke entered the round with his best 36-hole score ever, 12-under 130, good for a six-stroke lead. Over the first seven holes, though, Clarke's lead vanished quicker than he could finish a customary golf cigar as he made four bogeys #&151; double the amount he had the first two rounds #&151; to fall into a tie with Lonard.

Clarke recovered with birdies on the ninth and 10th holes to take a two-stroke lead, but two more bogeys dropped him behind his Australian rival.

The crusher came on the 15th green when Lonard dropped in a 55-footer for birdie. Clarke sent his own 50-foot birdie try 6 feet past and missed the par attempt to fall two shots behind.

Lonard toyed with 59 on Thursday before finishing with a 62, his best round ever. Then came Friday's 74 that dropped him six shots behind Clarke.

On Saturday, Lonard birdied three of his first five holes, including a 40-foot chip on the par-3 fourth, to turn the runaway into a race. His birdie on the 13th hole tied Clarke at 10 under before the long birdie putt put Lonard ahead by two. When Clarke closed the lead to a stroke with a birdie on the 16th hole, Lonard answered with a birdie of his own on the par-3 17th.

Clarke was lauded as much for his steady play his first two days here as for his fashion choices (he wore a matching fluorescent fuchsia combo Saturday). Clarke's confident he can get his swing back to try for his first PGA Tour victory since the 2003 WCG-NEC Invitational.

Spanish Open

SAN ROQUE, Spain #&151; Sweden's Peter Hanson shot a 1-under 71 to take a two-stroke lead over South Africa's Hennie Otto in the Spanish Open.

Hanson, who three-putted four greens in the third round, had a 7-under 209 total on the San Roque Club course. Otto birdied two of the last four holes for a 69.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, was four strokes back along with Spain's Jose Manual Lara. Lawrie shot a 69, and Lara had a 68.



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