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PINEHURST, N.C. -- Michelle Wie is becoming a regular contender in major championships, only now as an adult. She captivated womens golf as a teenager, contending in three straight LPGA Tour majors when she was 16. That was when she still was trying to compete against the men, when she didnt always look as if she was having fun and before injuries and criticism were a big part of her growing pains. On another tough day at Pinehurst No. 2, the 24-year-old from Hawaii held it together Friday with two key par putts and finished with back-to-back birdies for a 2-under 68, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the U.S. Womens Open. "I think you look at the way Michelle has played the last six months and you look at her differently," said Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in womens golf who was four shots out of the lead. "I think shes become one of the best ball-strikers on tour. She hits it really consistent. She knows where the balls going. And shes figuring out how to win. Thats the big thing." But theres a familiar name, and another teen prodigy, who joined Wie as the only players still under par. Lexi Thompson, who soundly beat Wie in the final round to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship for her first major title, powered her way out of the sand and weeds, running off three straight birdies to match Wies 68, the low score Friday. For all the interest in the men and women playing Pinehurst No. 2 in successive weeks, Wie and Thompson made the Womens Open more closely resemble the first LPGA major. Is it too early to start thinking rematch? "Definitely too early," Thompson said with a laugh. "Thirty-six holes in a major, thats a lot of golf to be played, especially at a U.S. Womens Open." For now, Wie had control. Her three-shot lead is the largest through 36 holes in the Womens Open in 11 years. She twice thought her shots were going off the turtleback greens, and twice she relied on her table-top putting stance to make long par saves. She finished with a 6-iron that set up a 12-foot birdie putt, and a 15-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth to reach 4-under 136. "End of the day yesterday, I was thinking if I just did this again, that would be nice," Wie said. "Finishing with two birdies is always great. Its a grind out there. Its not easy. Really grateful for the par putts that I made and some of the birdie putts that I made. I cant complain. Ill take it." Just when it looked as if this had the trappings of another runaway -- Martin Kaymer led by at least four shots over the final 48 holes to win the U.S. Open -- along came Thompson with a shot reminiscent of what Kaymer did last week. From the sand and bushes left of the fairway on the par-5 fifth hole, Thompson blasted a 5-iron from 195 yards just off the green, setting up two putts for birdie from about 60 feet. Kaymer was in roughly the same spot in the third round when he hit 7-iron from 202 yards to 5 feet, that pin position more toward the front. That was her third straight birdie, and she closed with four pars to reach 139. Sue Kim of Langley, B.C., and Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., each shot 73 to finish the second round in a tie for 14th place. Pinehurst No. 2 wasnt in much of a giving mood on another warm day in the North Carolina sandhills, with a brief shower in the middle of the afternoon that didnt do much to soften a dry, crusty golf course. Lewis, who opened with a bogey-free 67, picked up a bogey on her first hole in a wild round of six bogeys, three birdies and a tough 73. Even so, the two-time major champion managed to see the big picture. "I hung around, and thats what youve got to do at this tournament," said Lewis, at even-par with Amy Yang (69) and Minjee Lee, the 18-year-old amateur from Australia who played bogey-free on the back nine to salvage a 71. Lucy Li, the precocious 11-year-old and youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Womens Open, isnt leaving town until Monday. She just wont be playing any more golf. The sixth-grader from the Bay Area started with a double bogey for the second straight day and shot another 78 to miss the cut by seven shots. The cut was 9-over 149. Na Yeon Choi had a 70 and was at 1-over 141, followed by a Paula Creamer (72) at 2-over 142. The group at 143 included Karrie Webb (73) and So Yeon Ryu (74), who saved her hopes with three straight birdies on the front nine, and narrowly missing a fourth. All of them are former Womens Open champions. This is a different Wie they are chasing. She already has won this year in Hawaii, and she has eight top 10s and is No. 2 on the LPGA money list. Attribute that to a putting stroke that she owns, no matter how peculiar it looks with her back bent severely, almost parallel to the ground. And she has learned to play the shot -- she has a full allotment -- instead of worrying about her score or her position on the leaderboard. "I knew I could get better," Wie said. "I knew I could improve. But thats the game of golf. I think thats whats so fun about it. You work hard, you work hard, its a challenging game. You can never quite perfect it. I love working on my game. I love working on different shots. Just trying to get better every day. I never really lost a sense of determination or drive." Christine Michael Sr Jersey . -- Caris LeVert had 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for his first career double-double, and No. Reggie Wayne Jersey . The Leafs were back on the ice Wednesday following an 10-day break. It apparently wasnt long enough, as Team Canadas 2-1 win over Latvia didnt conclude before the Leafs began practice. "I was thinking we might get a little delay, but it was nice to get out there," said Tyler Bozak of watching Wednesdays game. http://www.coltsfansshop.com/Colts-Marlon-Mack-Draft-Jersey/. With Washington teammate Nene drawing double-teams coming off his big game against the Lakers, Gortat scored 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Wizards to a 100-92 win in overtime over Milwaukee on Wednesday night. Malik Hooker Jersey . Today, their baseball playing sons were reportedly traded for each other. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Cubs dealt minor league outfield Trevor Gretzky to the Angels for catcher Matt Scioscia. Margus Hunt Jersey . LeBron James leads the Miami Heat in a quest for three consecutive championship titles, while Tim Duncan looks to add his fifth ring with the San Antonio Spurs when the series tips off with Game 1: Miami @ San Antonio on Thursday, June 5 at 9 p.LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is having a blast again, with a shared bond with his crew, comfort in his own skin as NASCARs most popular driver, even finding fun 140 characters at a time on Twitter. Winning races sure has a way of easing burdens on Junior. Earnhardt turned Brad Keselowskis trash into Victory Lane treasure, pulling away down the stretch Sunday at Pocono Raceway for his second win of the season and a secured spot in the Chase field. He paired his first career win at Pocono with his Daytona 500 championship for his first multi-win season since 2004. "I feel like Im such a lucky guy to have this second opportunity again to be competitive," Earnhardt said. But for as strong as he ran in the No. 88 Chevrolet, Keselowski gift-wrapped this win when he yielded the lead with five laps left in a desperate attempt to clear debris from his grille and cool his overheated engine. Keselowskis gamble backfired -- he couldnt get the draft needed from the lapped traffic to clear his car and make one final pass for the win on Earnhardt. Keselowskis No. 2 Ford still had the oomph in the engine needed to finish the race, and he had his second-straight runner-up finish. "It was definitely a mistake because the engine made it," Keselowski said, rubbing his face. "It probably shouldnt have." Junior shook off the rising red gauges in the No. 88 that could have had his car meet a similar fate as Keselowski. "They were still within good reason to stand on it and give it hell," he said. Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and rookie Kyle Larson completed the top five. Earnhardt gave Hendrick Motorsports three straight wins, following back-to-back victories by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson overcame a pit road accident to finish sixth. Owner Rick Hendrick texted Earnhardt before the race to let him know he would not attend and would see him next week at Michigan. Earnhardt told him, "Ill drink one for you after its over." Earnhardt stuck to his end of the deal, spraying all types of beverages in a jubilant Victory Lane. Johnson was the first driver over to congratulate him. I dont have much to do tomorrow," Earnhardt said, grinning. "Tonights going to be a long one." Earnhardt, long NASCARs most popular driver, gave the Pocono crowd plenty of reason to go wild. He was mobbed by almost 100 fans outside the Pocono media centre, screaming his name and clamouring for a picture with the winner. He waved and ducked into a waiting car, whisked away for another party. Maybe the fans should try tweeting at him to earn his attention. AA reluctant participant on Twitter for years, Earnhardt warmed fast to the social media site after winning Daytona.ddddddddddddHe said he underestimated the amount of fun hed have interacting with fans. He loved the "go get ems" that dot his feed, though its the "haters" that he really feeds off. "The real short ones, like, You suck, those are the best ones," he said, smiling. "I just favourite them and block them. Its so much fun." Earnhardts second win means he is guaranteed to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. He won for the 29th time in 519 career Sprint Cup starts. "When we won at Daytona, man, it made the rest of the year a lot more relaxing, a lot easier," he said. "It makes it fun because you can just go to the track and just race, not worry about points." Juniors breakthrough was more meaningful because has come in crew chief Steve Letartes final season. Letarte, who had a Pocono win with Jeff Gordon, has become one of Earnhardts best friends. That tightness off the track just may have sparked the wins on the track. "Maybe thats why him and I are such good friends, because I might be the only one in the world that doesnt wonder what its like to be Dale Junior," Letarte said. "Hes a normal guy, hes a great guy, hes a great talent. I dont have any idea what its like to be him." Earnhardt led three Hendrick drivers in the top 10; Gordon finished eighth. Johnsons bid for a third straight victory was derailed when he connected on pit road with Marcos Ambrose. Coming off wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and at Dover, Johnson was fifth when he pitted under yellow. Johnson hit Ambrose and spun 180-degrees, which forced him to back into his stall for more repairs. He needed two tires, had right-front damage and dropped to 29th on the restart. Busch posted his first top 10 since his win at Martinsville nine races ago. He salvaged a rough day for his team that saw fellow Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick drop from contention with various issues. Stewart held the lead and was in great position late to win until he was busted for speeding on pit road and was dropped to 31st. Harvick was running second when had tire trouble. Stewart finished 13th, Harvick 14th, and SHRs Danica Patrick was 37th after she smacked the wall with 22 laps left. All those mishaps -- and one loose wrapper -- all made it a race to remember for Earnhardt. "A year or two ago, we werent running to seize the opportunity," Earnhardt said, "and now we are." 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