The signature smile of Rolex Rankings No. 15 Yani Tseng was on full display during the third round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola as the Taiwanese star shot a 9-under 63 to take a three-shot lead with 18 holes to play.
The former world No. 1 and 15-time LPGA Tour winner carded 11 birdies and two bogeys at Columbia Edgewater Country Club and holds the third-round lead for the first time since the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship where she finished third.
This marks the 15th time in her career Tseng has led or co-led after third round. Ten of her 15-career wins have come after leading or co-leading through 54 holes. Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen (70) and No. 56 Pornanong Phatlum (71) trail Tseng by three shots and are in a tie for second at 15-under par. A group of four players are tied for fourth including Americans Stacy Lewis, Lizette Salas and Morgan Pressel and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist.
This week marks the 37th start since Tseng has found her way into the winner’s circle at an LPGA event and according to the 24-year old, it has been a long journey in an effort to get back to the top.
“I don't know what is the media center now,” said Tseng. “It's been a long time. I came in here for a while, and it's great to be back in position again, and I just haven't been on this position for a really long time. I was really happy out there and really enjoyed, and the gallery here are awesome and they give us very big support, and I just love every part of the golf out there and really enjoyed every shot.”
Tseng held the No. 1 position in the Rolex Rankings for 109 consecutive weeks until being overtaken by Stacy Lewis at this year’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Since the tournament in March, Tseng has posted only one top-20 finish and has missed the past four out of five cuts. She’ll be playing with close friend Suzann Pettersen in the final round.
“There's no one that I'd rather see playing better and playing well again than Yani,” said Pettersen. “I know she's been through a very rough patch. Like I said to her, she's just got to stay patient. She's too good not to kind of hang tough and be in the game. But it's fun to see, and hopefully we'll play together.”
2013 LPGA Tour rookie Austin Ernst went on an early routing of the track at Columbia Edgewater Country Club and tied the course record with a 10-under 62. She tied Annika Sorenstam (2002- 2nd round) and Beth Daniel (2003- 1st round) for the record and did so playing by herself in the first tee time of the day at 7:30am local time.