KAPOLEI (Hawaii): Japan’s Ai Miyazato defied difficult, windy conditions to post a two-under 70 on Friday and take a three-shot lead after three rounds of the LPGA Lotte Championship.
Ai, a seven-time LPGA Tour winner, had a 10-under total of 206, three shots in front of American Cristie Kerr and Spain’s Azahara Munoz — who had shared the lead with Miyazato after the second round.
Cristie carded a 71 while Azahara posted a one-over 73 on the Ko Olina course.
Ai said the wind had blown consistently for three days, but even though it was predictable, it was hard to deal with.
“It’s still tough to play out there,” Ai said.
“I said to myself to just stay focused.” Cristie, a 14-time LPGA Tour winner, moved as low as eight-under during the round before losing momentum with two back-nine bogeys.
“I think I played pretty solid,” Cristie said. “I had some putts on the front that I misread.”
World No 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan, who has won three of the first six LPGA tournaments of the year, was at six-under 210, along with US Open champion Ryu So Yeon, former World No 1 Shin Jiyai, Meena Lee and Angela Stanford.
Yani and So Yeon both shot 69, the lowest score of the day. Shin and Stanford carded 70s and Lee posted a 71.
Yani said she was still in the hunt in the 72-hole tournament which will conclude today.
“I played a really solid round today,” Yani said. “I made a lot of putts.
I’m still thinking to win. Four or five shots is really nothing on this golf course.
“It was really windy,” Yani said. “You just go out there and have another fun day and enjoy.”
Ai was two-under for the day until a bogey at the par-three 12th. She bounced back with a birdie at the par-five 13th. After a bogey at 16 — another par-three — she finished her round with a birdie at the par-four 18th.
“It was a really strong finish. I was really happy,” Ai said.
“The 18th is a really difficult tee shot, and of course the second shot was really tough, too.
“I just hit a nice and easy seven-iron, and just a short bounce in front of the green. It was perfect, so I’m very happy with that.” AFP