EVIAN, France (AP) – Michelle Wie’s biggest problem at the Evian Masters may be her own strength.

The 16-year-old from Hawaii is poised to make a serious run at her first victory as a professional, sitting just one shot behind leader Karrie Webb after shooting a 2-under 70 in the third round.

But if Wie is to win, she’ll likely have to improve her performance on the 17th hole – where she has struggled to control her tee shots all week.

“It’s like I became the Hulk on that hole or something,” Wie said.

She bogeyed the hole on Friday for the second time in the tournament, along with a par there in the second round.

Her tee shot on the 17th went 30 yards farther than she intended and into the rough. She then chipped out over the flag and onto the opposite edge of the green. She missed her putt by 6 inches, settling for bogey.

Wie is at 11-under 204 for the tournament. She had shared the lead with Webb and Lorena Ochoa after the second round, the fourth time she had a share of the lead as a professional.

Webb (69) dropped a total of three shots on the 12th and 13th holes, but compensated with six birdies to finish the day at 12-under 204.

“It was another good start but I seemed to struggle through the middle holes,” Webb said. “I putted pretty well and was comfortable on the greens. But it’s only the third round. There’s a long way to go. There are a lot of low numbers to be had out there.”

It is the 30th time Webb has entered the final round with at least a share of the lead. She won 19 of those.

times, finished second seven others and third once.

“I’m not really bothered about being in the lead,” she said. “There are a lot of great players behind me and with a one-shot lead. I feel I’ve got to attack. It’s not like protecting a three- or four-shot lead.”

Webb made four birdies in the front nine, and another on the 10th hole before stumbling on the 12th and 13th. However, she was able to regroup and birdie the 18th.

“It’s probably the mental work I’ve done over the last eight months,” she said. “Definitely I’ve been more concentrated on that the last eight months. How to switch it on, when to switch it on.”

Laura Davies and Se Ri Pak are tied for third at 10 under.

Ochoa double bogeyed the 17th and bogeyed the 18th to finish at 1-over 73 and drop into a tie with South Korea’s Jeong Jang and Mi Hyun Kim at 8 under.

Rumbling storm clouds that worried organizers and players finally gave way to sunshine halfway through the day. But the temperatures dropped to 79 degrees at the lakeside Alpine course, offering some relief from the heat wave across much of Europe.

AP-ES-07-28-06 1559EDT


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