Alice Miller, the LPGA's No. 1 money-winner with $194,000 this season, shot a five-under-par 67 today to move into a tie for the lead with Nancy Lopez after three rounds of the LPGA Championship, the second of four annual women's major golf tournaments.
Miller birdied 16 and 17, holes Lopez bogeyed. A 30-foot wedge shot on the par-4 17th pulled Miller even with Lopez.
Lopez, the leader after each of the first two rounds, had led by three strokes after the first 18 holes and by four following 36, but finished today with a 72. Going into Sunday's final round, Miller and Lopez are at 208, eight shots under par at the 6,242-yard Nicklaus Sports Center.
"To win a second major would be nice, but I can't afford to think about winning. I've got to keep my mind on the course," said Miller. "Par is a good round on Sunday, but I need to get into double figures -- the more the better. You can't think about winning, just shooting good numbers."
Pat Bradley, second and third in tournaments the last two weeks, took over third place with 69 -- 210. "My chances are as good as anybody else," Bradley said. "I'm ready to go."
"I feel mad," said Lopez. "I've been mad since Thursday (when she was penalized for slow play). I feel frustrated, I feel confused and I don't know how to pace myself. It's not supposed to be a cross-country race. I'm out of my normal tempo, and I don't feel comfortable."
Lopez said of her worst round this week, "The only two holes that hurt me were 16 and 17. I certainly didn't want to shoot par."
Lopez predicted she needs a closing 67 or 68 to capture this major for the second time in eight years for her 31st career triumph.
Commissioner John Laupheimer backed the decision of LPGA officials to assess Lopez the penalty. "Tournament officials performed their job as it's laid down for them," he said. "It saddens me when any player is penalized for any reason."
LPGA official Kerry Haigh assessed the two-shot penalty on the 17th hole in the opening round Thursday because Lopez took 83 seconds to select and hit her tee shot on that hole, 23 seconds slower than the maximum time limit.
Miller, the winner of the year's first major, the Nabisco Dinah Shore, had started the day in a fourth-place tie, five strokes behind Lopez. She and Bradley made their moves early. Miller opened with back-to-back birdies while Bradley had two birdies in the first four holes.
Dot Germain took over fourth place, shooting a 68 for a 211 total. Then came Lori Garbacz with 68 -- 213.
Patty Sheehan's bid for an unprecedented third straight victory in this tournament appeared over as she shot a 72 for a total of 220, 12 shots from the lead.
The winner Sunday will collect $37,750 from the total purse of $250,000.