-- Patricia Meunier-Lebouc thought playing with Annika Sorenstam might make her a better player. So far at the Nabisco Championship, she's been better than ever.
Paired with Sorenstam for her fourth straight round, Meunier-Lebouc shot a 4-under-par 68 today to take a two-stroke lead over her playing partner midway through the LPGA Tour's first major championship of the year.
While Sorenstam faltered with three back-nine bogeys, Meunier-Lebouc parred her way in on the last eight holes to take the lead on a day when unpredictable wind made scoring difficult on the Dinah Shore tournament course at Mission Hills Country Club.
"It's just so much fun to play with Annika," Meunier-Lebouc said.
Sorenstam struggled with the wind but came back to hit a sand wedge to nine feet and birdie the final hole for an even-par 72. Another shot back at 141 was Mexican rookie Lorena Ochoa.
"It was difficult today because the wind was swirling on the front nine, and on the back it would gust a bit," Sorenstam said. "There were several shots I couldn't believe."
Among them was a pitching wedge Sorenstam hit on the 136-yard 14th hole that flew the green and led to a bogey. Meunier-Lebouc watched the shot, then put away the 9-iron she wanted to hit and hit her wedge short of the green.
"I feel kind of worn out because I was thinking so much on the course," Sorenstam said.
After an opening two tournaments on the LPGA Tour in which players had to shoot in the low- to mid-sixties to win, the first major championship features a tougher course, deeper rough, quicker greens and wind.
They weren't enough to knock 13-year-old Michelle Wie out of the tournament. She shot a 74 to make the cut at 2 over par.
Combined, though, they made for a frustrating day for almost everyone but Meunier-Lebouc, who is known better for being the best female player from France than for any accomplishments in her three years on the LPGA Tour.
Sorenstam began the day with a two-shot lead, but three-putted the first hole -- one of three times she would do that in her round. But she came back with four birdies, including one from three feet on the 12th hole that tied her with Meunier-Lebouc at 6 under.
Sorenstam then bogeyed the 14th from over the green, three-putted the 16th for another bogey and flubbed a chip from the rough on 17 for a third bogey.