Kraft final round preview: Wie, Thompson lead, veterans chasing

Final Round Preview – LPGA Tour –Kraft Nabisco Championship – Mission Hills Country Club (Dinah Shore Tournament) – Rancho Mirage, California –

The stage is set perhaps for the next wave of American golfers on the LPGA Tour.

Lexi Thompson, 19, and Michelle Wie, just 24, are co-leaders heading into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Both are searching for their first major championship.

At 10-under, the duo tees off at Mission Hill Country Club at 2:01 p.m. local time in Rancho Mirage, California. Wie’s third-round 68 moved her into the final pairing.

There are seasoned contenders still in the mix including two-time major champion Cristie Kerr and former RICOH British Women’s Open champion Catriona Matthew – both 6-under and just four back. They will have a chance to get out ahead of the leaders and apply pressure.

Don’t forget about Se Ri Pak, the Hall of Famer with 25 career LPGA Tour victories. She is tied for third place at the moment at 8-under overall and is looking for her first victory on tour was in 2010.

Then, there is the Solheim Cup hero and upstart from England Charley Hull, who posted Saturday’s best round at 66. She needed just 26 putts Saturday and was 3 of 3 in Sand Saves. She is tied with Pak just two back of the lead.

Only eight players shot in the 60s Saturday and most of those were 69s. Look for a challenge Sunday with golf’s first major in the balance.

For Thompson, she is the Rolex Ranking No. 9 player with three career LPGA Tour victories. With a pair of wins in 2013 in Malaysia and in Mexico at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Lexi is probably the favorite to cash in but her putter will determine her fate.

The same holds true for Wie. At 38th in the rankings, she last won in 2010 at the Canadian Women’s Open. She has just three bogeys through three rounds at Mission Hills having missed just eight Greens In Regulation all week.

Stamina will factor for Pak in the final round. She seemed to fade a bit on the back-nine Saturday in her quest to win this title for the first time.

Other Golf News:

  • Overnight leader at the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open, Matt Kuchar continues to lead at 14-under but he is 1-over through seven holes. The tour moved up tee times to avoid potential weather issues. Matt Jones (3-under through eight) is now alone in second at 12-under.
  • Stacy Lewis and Azahara Munoz are T-9 at 4-under.They will need low rounds to have a shot to win the Kraft. Although both have top finishes this season, neither has logged a victory yet in 2014.
  • At Rolex Ranking No. 9, Lexi was third last week at the Kia Classic. She bogeyed No. 18 Saturday to fall into a tie with Wie for the lead.
  • Sergio Garcia (11-under) and Rickie Fowler (10-under overall and 2-under in the final round) are both within striking distance of the lead in Houston.