South African Lee-Anne Pace and American Jessica Korda share the lead heading into the final round of the Blue Bay LPGA event in Sanya, China.
The duo share the lead at 11-under-par in the rain affected tournament, which has been reduced to 54 holes. Pace, who is coming of a victory last week at home in the Cell C South African Women’s Open will be looking to capture her first LPGA title on Sunday. The 33-year-old has posted rounds of 67 and 66 on the par 72 layout at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course on Hainan Island.
Chella Choi (68-66) sits in solo second with 18 holes to play and trails the lead by just one shot. Americans Michelle Wie (67-68) and Brittany Lang (67-68) are tied with China’s own Shanshan Feng (67-68) for fourth place and will start the final round two shots back.
Korda, who was the first-round leader, had a rough start with a double bogey on the par 4 1st hole but did not drop a shot the rest of the day.
“I got a little frazzled there as I was walking to the first tee box and then obviously didn’t hit a good shot, and I just I tried to forget about it, tried to bring back, you know, it’s okay and just think about what’s ahead and not what just happened,” said Korda.
It was her play on the back nine that got her back in the picture on the leaderboard and birdied No. 14 to get to 9-under par and within one shot of Pace who had the outright lead.
Pace, along with Chella Choi and Austin Ernst, shot the low round of the day with a 6-under 66 that included seven birdies and one bogey. She birdied the par 4 12th with a chip in from the fringe to get to 9-under par and to gain a share of the lead for the first time all day.
“I played pretty decent,” said Pace. “I made quite a few putts already by that stage and then the putter just started rolling nicely towards the end.”
Pace would pick up her two final birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 to get to 11-under par and the outright lead. But she was caught by Korda who birdied three consecutive holes from Nos. 14-16. Her string of birdies was not the highlight of the round but rather a 17-foot par putt on the 18th hole that kept her at 11-under par.
There are only two Australians in the field this week, Sarah Jane Smith and Katherine Kirk. Smith is the performing the best so far, with rounds of 69 and 73, she is at two-under-par and tied for 33rd position. Smith second round included five bogeys and four birdies.
Kirk is a further four shots back of her fellow Queenslander, after posting rounds of 72 and 74. Kirk will start the final round in a share of 59th place.