Hackney continues comeback to join Pak atop LPGA Back-nine birdies drive rally to 69 and lead by 2; 8 are within 3 of leaders


WILMINGTON, Del. -- Se Ri Pak, who had played the first two rounds nine strokes under par, never found that touch yesterday.

Meanwhile, Lisa Hackney made a late rally and joined her atop the LPGA Championship leader board.

Pak, who was the sole leader through two rounds, never got anything going and came in with a 1-over-par 72 and a 54-hole total of 205 at DuPont Country Club.

Hackney, who had Friday's low round of 66, made four birdies in six holes on the back nine yesterday to finish with a 69 for 205.

When Pak made what turned out to be her only birdie of the day on the sixth hole, and playing partner Lisa Walters bogeyed, the two-shot swing suddenly gave Pak a four-shot lead on the field.

While Pak. in her rookie LPGA season, was reeling off pars, her pursuers became challengers. At the finish, defender Chris Johnson and 1998 winners Wendy Ward and Donna Andrews were among four at 207, and four more were at 208, including Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins, past winners of this event.

Although Pak, 20, and Hackney, 30, have won elsewhere, each is looking for her first tour triumph.

Last year, Hackney, in her second LPGA season (the 1990 University of Florida graduate qualified on her fifth attempt in the fall of 1996), missed the cut here, but finished in the top 10 in each of the LPGA's other three major championships.

After her birdie, Pak's only other deviation from par came at the par-3 17th, where she failed to convert after missing the green.

"I felt aggressive, and I think I played good," Pak said. However, her 34 putts were her high for the week. She drove into the water at No. 3, but hit a 192-yard 5-wood shot that stopped three feet from the cup. She made the putt.

There were some other relatively short putts she did not make, but said, "If I miss, I just forget it. There are many holes and if I miss, OK, make birdie next hole."

Just ahead of her, Hackney, after making the turn at 2 over, had three birdie putts inside of five feet and two-putted the par-5 16th for birdie.

"The birdie on 11 turned me around, but I had to be patient," Hackney said.

Of the final round, she said: "I've been playing well, and it's the position I want to be in."

Johnson had one of the four 67s -- low for the day -- and said she had worked on some things the day before after not hitting the ball well for two days.

"I hit better shots today and had more opportunities for birdies," Johnson said.

"You want to get in the hunt because, obviously, the chances of winning are better. But we're running out of days running out of holes."

Andrews is having an outstanding year, seven times finishing in the top six, including a win in Sacramento a month ago and a playoff loss in Nashville last week. She is second on the money list with more than $300,000.

She shot 69, and a birdie at the 16th was enough to lift her into the tie just back of the leaders. Ward, a winner in Hawaii, also used a birdie at the 16th to shoot 69 and be part of the tie.

No one has played the past 36 holes better than Emilee Klein, who started at 71, but has dipped to 67-68 for 207. Her third round included four birdies and a bogey.

Pub Date: 5/17/98

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