Golfer Karin Sjodin of Sweden lists putting together Ikea furniture as a hobby, which would seem a mentally and physically cruel way to spend time off.
But it took unremitting patience and an ability to figure out unfathomable wind patterns Saturday during the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, skills needed to conquer Ikea and skills Sjodin showed with her round of four-under-par 68.
That was good enough to pull the 28-year-old — who has never won an LPGA Tour event and who had never even made the cut in this tournament, the first major of the season — into a tie for first with world No. 1 Yani Tseng.
Tseng, who has had at least a share of the lead after 10 of her last 11 LPGA rounds, shot her worst score of the tournament so far with a one-under 71. Sjodin and Tseng, who are at nine-under 207 going into Sunday’s final round, hold a two-shot lead over Haeji Kang of South Korea.
Five other South Koreans are tied for third. Vicky Hurst, a 21-year-old from Florida whose mother is Korean, is the top American and tied for ninth after a 71 put her at five under for the tournament.
Because of strong winds, which began befuddling golfers at about 1 p.m. and were expected to get stronger during the night, Sunday’s final round will be played with threesomes instead of twosomes and groups will start at both the first and 10th tees between 10 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. Course officials expect to do some cleanup overnight.
Tseng, who is on a two-tournament winning streak and who had bogeyed only three holes in her first three rounds, bogeyed three holes on the back nine Saturday.
As her shots wobbled in the wind or hit unexpected resistance from the gusts, Tseng began to frown after perpetually smiling this week.
Tseng needed an uplifting birdie on the par-three 179-yard par-three 17th hole to be tied with Sjodin. Her six-iron shot landed within a couple of feet of the hole. Tseng called the putt “a happy tap-in.”
“I hung in there,” Tseng said “The front nine was very solid. On the back nine I got my emotions in it, I got to thinking too much and maybe didn’t trust my game as much as the front nine. Maybe it was the wind, maybe some of my shots didn’t come in. But I’m happy I hung in there.”
Tseng, 23, has won three of the first five LPGA events of this season. She has won five majors in her career and 25 tournaments.
Sjodin, who played at Oklahoma State, has none of those credentials. Sjodin said it has taken her several years to learn that what had been her biggest strength as an amateur, long driving, isn’t enough on the pro tour.
“I never realized what my weaknesses were, because I could just bomb it up there,” Sjodin said. “Coming out here, all of a sudden, there are a lot of people who hit it further. It took a while to work on those things and get a plan. Now I think in every part of the game I know what I want to do and how to work on it.”