BETHESDA: Chun In-gee will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Women’s PGA Championship after battling to a three-over-par 75 in Saturday’s third round.
The South Korean world number 33, who dominated play over the first two days to open up a six-shot lead at the halfway stage, found the going tougher on Saturday at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
Although Chun led the field by as many as seven shots early in her round, she saw her advantage gradually shrink as she came down the stretch, with a bogey on the 15th and double-bogey on the 16th leaving her just three shots clear.
Chun recovered from that late wobble with pars on the 17th and 18th holes to leave her on eight under for the tournament with a 54-hole aggregate 208.
Chun’s round could have been worse had it not been for a superb recovery on the par-five 16th.
After a wayward second shot bounced into deep rough beyond the cart path, Chun pulled her third shot into undergrowth on the opposite side of the fairway.
She elected to take a penalty and replay the shot, but her fifth ended up in rough beyond the green.
That left the very real possibility of a triple-bogey eight, but Chun got up-and-down in two to stop the bleeding with a double-bogey.
Chun later put a positive spin on her challenging round, saying it should make for a competitive final round on Sunday.
“I’m excited and looking forward to an exciting final round,” she said. “If it’s going to be too easy, then I feel it is boring. So I just want to enjoy another day tomorrow.
“I just want to keep being positive. No matter where I am, I’m ready to make another good day or another good round if I can.”
Chun’s nervy third round has left a clutch of players with grounds for optimism heading into the final round.
Lexi Thompson and Koreans Choi Hye-jin and Kim Sei-young are in a three-way tie for second on five under 211.
Thompson overcame an early stumble that included two bogeys in her opening four holes to shoot a two-under-par 70.
A bogey-free back nine saw her move up the leaderboard with birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th holes.
Thompson attributed her form to the fact she no longer pays attention to the leaderboard during her rounds.
“Looking at leaderboards does me no good, honestly, so really just focusing on my score, my shot at hand,” Thompson said. “That’s all I can do.”
Choi also shot a two-under-par 70 while Kim finished with a one-under-par 71.
Australia’s Hannah Green is alone in fifth place on the leaderboard on four under after her even-par 72.
Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul had the day’s lowest score, shooting a four-under-par 68 that included six birdies.
Atthaya is tied for sixth on three under alongside Canada’s Brooke Henderson and the USA’s Jennifer Chang and Jennifer Kupcho.
Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow and Australia’s Minjee Lee are six shots off the lead, tied for 10th on two under.