(Reuters) - South Korea’s Kim Sei-young dropped two shots on her last three holes and was replaced at the top of the leaderboard by compatriot Ji Eun-hee in the third round of the JTBC Founders Cup on Saturday.
Ji shot a bogey-free 65 to move to 18-under-par at the Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona, one shot ahead of 2015 rookie of the year Kim (70) and American Stacy Lewis, who carded a 64.
World number one Lydia Ko and Spaniard Carlota Ciganda also shot 64 to move into contention at 15 under.
Kim drained a 25-foot eagle putt from the front fringe of the par-4 13 to move two shots clear but failed to pick up a birdie at the straightforward par-5 15th and then made bogeys at 16 and 17 to close with a two-under-par 70.
Ji, who has won twice on the LPGA Tour, birdied three of her final five holes for an 18-under 198 total and has had just one bogey through 54 holes.
“My putting was really good,” she told reporters. “Actually, my iron [play] was really good too, because I was really struggling with my irons the last couple of weeks, but it’s getting better this week.”
Lewis, who needed 33 putts in the first round, continued to reap the benefits from switching putter. She needed just 25 putts in the second round and 28 in the third.
“You start hitting better shots when you know you can make 10 or 15 footer,” Lewis told Golf Channel. “It kind of frees you up and allows you to be more aggressive.”
American Jacqui Concolino was alone in fourth at 16-under after a 68.
New Zealander Ko said she was surprised by the low scores.
“I thought with the rough being longer this year, the scores would not be as low as years before, but apparently not,” Ko said. “I knew if I wanted to catch up or give myself an opportunity on Sunday I needed to go pretty low.”
Reporting by Tim Wharnsby; Editing by Peter Rutherford