CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Cristie Kerr made a 55-foot par-saving putt after hitting her final approach into the water Saturday at Aviara, giving her a share of the Kia Classic lead with Lizette Salas.
Kerr finished with a 2-under 70 to match Salas at 10-under 206. After dropping a stroke on the par-5 17th, Kerr holed out from the edge of the green on the par-4 18th after taking a penalty drop.
“Obviously, it was the worst shot I could have hit and then it was the best shot I could have hit,” Kerr said. “So go figure, that’s golf. It was pretty amazing. It is really one of those moments that you just remember for a lifetime. I was just trying to get it close. Usually that’s when those go in.”
Kerr won the Kingsmill Championship last year for her 16th LPGA Tour title.
“I hit two hooks on 17 in a row,” Kerr said. “That hole owes me tomorrow. That hole owes me tomorrow, big time.”
Salas, the former USC player from Azusa, had a 69. She birdied the par-5 17th for a share of the lead and matched Kerr with a par on the last.
Salas was followed by a spirited gallery wearing “Team Salas” shirts as she tries to win her first LPGA Tour title.
“I’m just really trying to capitalize on the par 5s,” Salas said. “Just staying patient. That’s really my key this week is to stay patient, even though I’m in trouble, like on No. 13, where I hit it into the bunker.”
She got up-and-down for par, and didn’t let a bogey on No. 15 — her first of the tournament — bring her down.
“One bogey out of three days is not a bad thing,” Salas said.
Dori Carter, the second-round leader after a course-record 64, had a 74 to drop into a tie for third at 8 under with Thailand winner Anna Nordqvist, Ayako Uehara and Shanshan Feng.
“Overall I handled my nerves pretty well,” Carter said. “It was my first time playing in the final group.”
Nordqvist and Uehara shot 67, and Feng had a 69.
“I started off really solid,” Nordqvist said. “I think the back nine is playing a little tougher, but I hung tough and made a silly mistake on 16. But other than that, I’m really happy with my round.”
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis was 7 under after a 73. She had two late bogeys.