Alison Lee took a three-stroke lead Saturday in the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship in Incheon, South Korea, putting the 21-year-old UCLA student in position for her first victory.
Lee shot a four-under 68 in calm and firm conditions at Sky 72, saving par on 17 and birdieing 18 to stretch her margin over U.S. Women’s Open champion Brittany Lang — her U.S. Solheim Cup teammate.
“The past few days, all week, I’ve been striking the ball really well,” Lee said. “I’ve been giving myself a lot birdie chances. Even though I shot four under today, I still left a lot of birdie putts other there.”
Playing her second season on the tour while remaining in college, Lee had a 13-under 203 total on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course.
“Everyone back home is cheering me on,” Lee said. “Even my roommates and some of the girls in the sorority. They know nothing about golf, but they’ve been tuning in to the Golf Channel.”
Lang had a 72. South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim, the winner two weeks ago in China in the first of six straight events in Asia, was third at 9 under after a 69. She also won an event in Germany last month.
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda had a 69 to reach eight under, and Kerr’s 72 left her at seven under with Taiwan’s Candie Kung (69) and South Korea’s Min-Sun Kim.
Sung Hyun Park, tied for the lead early in the round, had consecutive double bogeys on the back nine in a 73 to fall to six under. The Korean LPGA member tied for second behind Lexi Thompson last year.
Thompson also was five under a 72, making five birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey. She and Lang are the only U.S. winners this year.
In Gee Chun, the top-ranked South Korean player at No. 3, was three under after a 69.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko was one over after a 73. She has four victories this year, one behind second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn for the tour lead. Jutanugarn had a 69 to get to one under.
Wagner leads rain-delayed Safeway Open
Johnson Wagner chipped in for birdie and took a one-shot lead in the Safeway Open by keeping bogeys off his card in the rain at Silverado in Napa.
Wagner was at 15 under through 15 holes when the third round was halted as rain caused puddles to form around the edges of the green.
Second-round leader Scott Piercy was just short of the 16th green when he told tour officials he couldn’t play his shot because of the water. Piercy was in the last group with Wagner and at 14 under. Pattron Kizzire was at 14 under through 16 holes.
Paul Casey was two shots behind and in the final group. Casey hit a tee shot on the par-five fifth hole that clipped a tree, ricocheted somewhere and was never found, costing him two shots.
Phil Mickelson hit a wild tee shot on the par-five 18th and made bogey for a 69, leaving him six back.
Poulter struggles in Macua
Ian Poulter carded three birdies over the final six holes to finish the third round with an even-par 71 and a share of 14th place at the Macau Open on Saturday.
Poulter, who was in the lead after the first round, had a triple bogey on the par-four 10th hole but made up some ground on the back nine at Macau Golf and Country Club to close at five-under 208, five strokes off the lead.
“A bit of frustration, more than anything else,” Poulter said. “The dream start on Thursday didn’t feel great yesterday, and I didn’t get off to the best of starts today. A poor tee shot on 10 was very costly. Looking at the leaderboard now, it’s really annoying.”
Anirban Lahiri, the 2014 champion, and Chikkarangappa both shot 69 to share the lead at 10-under 203. Carlos Pigem, who had a share of the first-round lead with Poulter, was tied for third with four others after a 69.
Poulter was coming off 14 weeks on the sidelines because of an arthritic joint in his right foot, although he remained involved as a non-playing vice captain for Europe in its Ryder Cup loss.