HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. - A long, rain-delayed day for Anna Nordqvist at the McDonald's LPGA Championship was about to end with three holes remaining in her third round as she lined up a 24-foot putt from off the green in the twilight at Bulle Rock.
But any feelings of exhaustion, or trepidation about having to come back this morning to finish the round disappeared when the 22-year-old rookie from Sweden saw the putt squeeze in between the flagstick and the side of the hole yesterday for a birdie 4.
The putt put Nordqvist at 10-under par and gave her a 1-stroke lead over Lindsay Wright, who also has three holes remaining this morning.
Play was stopped at 4:41 p.m. after lightning was detected in the area. After a few heavy downpours, the contestants returned to the course at 7 and played until 8:10, when the horn blew to suspend the competition because of darkness.
Players could finish the hole they were on when officials signaled the end to the day. Na Yeon Choi, who was in third place at the time, was ready to tee up her ball at the 18th when the horn sounded.
Because she could not proceed, and would have to come back early to play only one hole, she reacted by yanking her tee out of the ground and throwing it in disgust in a motion that would have impressed Brad Lidge.
Eight players will complete their third round this morning beginning at 7:30, with the final round beginning at 9.
Jin Young Pak, a 22-year-old second-year player from South Korea, was the leader in the clubhouse after a 3-under-par round of 69 left her at 7-under 209 for the tournament.
Despite the fact she was playing just her fifth LPGA Tour event, and first major as a pro, Nordqvist stayed cool under the pressure. Even though she bogeyed the par-5 11th - her second hole after the rain delay - she made a nice par save at 13 before her closing birdie at the par-5 15th.
"I've been putting real well the last couple of days," the former Arizona State star said. "I rolled a lot of good putts today. I was on the fringe [on 15] and I figured maybe it was eight yards or so. I picked out the line and it went in."
Today will be a supreme test of Nordqvist's nerves, however. Not only does she have to come back early and play three holes, she also has to wait around approximately five to six hours for her final round to begin, giving the butterflies in her stomach a chance to multiply.
"I'll be up early and play those holes," she said. "Then I'll probably go back and rest and relax before I tee it up again," she said. "I haven't done it before so I don't have an answer" to how she will feel.
Wright, 29, an Australian seeking her first LPGA Tour win, rocketed into first place with a run of four birdies in five holes, capped by a 4-foot birdie putt at the par-5 11th that got her to 10-under. But she found a bunker with her approach at the 13th and made bogey to fall back.
"Obviously, it's a disadvantage not finishing," she said. "It was just go-go-go all day. I would love to sleep in [today]. But it's going to be a big day regardless. I've been waking up at 4:30 every day anyway, so it's just another day really."
South Korean rookie Jiyai Shin bogeyed her last hole for a 69 that put her at 210, one shot better than a pair of Americans, Angela Stanford and Stacy Lewis.
Lorena Ochoa, seeking to break through in this major after five top-10 finishes here in as many years, couldn't find a spark and her 73 gave her a 54-hole score of 2-under 214, 8 strokes behind the leader.
Michelle Wie threw a jolt into the crowd with a hole-in-one at the 152-yard seventh hole, where she used an 8-iron. But she couldn't sustain the momentum, shot 38 on the back nine, and finished with a 73 that left her at 217.
Irene Cho, a former star at Southern California, matched the low round of the tournament with a 65 and vaulted from a tie for 65th into a tie for 12th at 212.