Juli Inkster of the US set up the chance to become the oldest winner on the LPGA Tour when she moved into a two-shot lead after a third round 69 at the Evian Masters on Saturday.
But it was a disheartening day for Michelle Wie, the 17-year-old who has finished runner-up for the past two years. The US player shot the worst score of the day -- an 84 -- and was 69th of the 72 qualifiers on 12 over par.
The 47-year-old Inkster's wisdom helped turn a difficult day of gusting winds and firm greens into a chance of repeating her 2003 victory and joining Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies and Helen Alfredsson as a two-time Masters champion.
With a six-under-par 210, Inkster led by two from South Korea's Jang Jeong, who had a 72, with US player Diana D'Alessio (76), Sweden's Sophie Gustafson (72) and South Korean Shin Ji-yai (70) tied for third on three under.
Sorenstam birdied two of the final three holes to stay in contention on two under after a 74, while Davies also shot two over on the day and was on one under and alongside Australia's defending champion, Karrie Webb (73).
The oldest winner on the tour was Beth Daniel, who was 46 when she captured the Canadian Open in 2003.
This is only Wie's fifth tournament of a year as she has been forced to cope with a wrist injury. She has pulled out twice before even completing 36 holes, most recently when she was 17 over par after 27 holes at the US Women's Open last month.
The youngster from Hawaii refused to use the wrist as an excuse, but did admit to feelings of utter frustration in the week before she heads to the stiff test of the a major, the Women's British Open at St Andrews.
"My body just wouldn't do what my mind wanted," said Wie, whose second round 71 was her first sub-par round since she shot 68 on the last day at Evian 12 months ago.
Inkster has won 31 times, including seven majors, in her impressive 24-year LPGA career and she attributed her surge to an improvement with the putter.
"My putting's been horrible for the past month but I had a lesson from Stan Utley [a former Tour professional] in Phoenix last week and I holed some good ones today," she said.