South Korea’s Ko Jin-young fired a two-under par 69 to seize a four-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the LPGA Founders Cup.
World number two Ko stood on 13-under 200 after 54 holes at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, New Jersey.
A second-place pack four adrift on 204 included South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon, Americans Lindsey Weaver and Elizabeth Szokol and Yuka Saso of the Philippines.
Ko, who matched her LPGA career-low round with an opening 63, broke 70 for her 13th round in a row on Saturday, leaving her one shy of matching Annika Sorenstam’s all-time LPGA record for consecutive rounds in the 60s.
“I didn’t play too aggressive,” Ko said. “Play was good. I still made it 2-under par. I cannot wait for play tomorrow.”
Defending champion Ko began the round with a two-stroke lead, stumbled with a bogey at the fourth but answered with birdies at the par-3 fifth and par-4 sixth to reach 12-under.
That gave her a four-stroke advantage as Ryu, second when the round began, faded early with bogeys at the fifth and sixth before rallying to shoot 71.
Ko answered a bogey at the ninth with a birdie at the 11th and birdied the par-5 15th to stretch her lead to four strokes, then parred her way to the clubhouse.
“Last two days wasn’t breeze much on the course, but today maybe 10 miles [16km per hour],” Ko said.
“So little hard to get like club choice. Still the course is amazing, fairways are really good and greens are perfect.”
Ko shared second the previous week at the LPGA ShopRite Classic after capturing her ninth career LPGA title, and second of the year, last month at Portland.
Reigning US Women’s Open champion Saso birdied the fifth, sixth and par-5 eighth and added two more at 14 and 15 before taking her lone bogey at 17 to shoot 67.
“I’ll keep doing what I was doing the past three days, have fun and enjoy every shot,” Saso said.
The 20-year-old Asian star said winning a major title has not created major changes for her.
“It was very special for me,” Saso said. “It didn’t really change my life but it feels good. It made me realise I have to focus more on what I have to do. I’m really thankful for that win.”
A sixth-place pack on 206 included France’s Perrine Delacour, Americans Lexi Thompson and top-ranked Nelly Korda, Germany’s Caroline Masson and Mexico’s Maria Fassi.
“Very excited to be under par and in contention,” Fassi said. “I’m hitting the ball really good. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Many of the leaders had to finish their second rounds Saturday morning after early fog delays Thursday and Friday kept golfers on the course until darkness each day.