(Reuters) - Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn birdied three of the last six holes to break clear of a tightly bunched leaderboard in Saturday’s third round of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Two weeks after winning her first LPGA title at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Alabama, the 20-year-old Jutanugarn fired a flawless six-under-par 65 on the rain-softened River Course at Kingsmill Resort.
The fast-finishing Thai birdied the 13th, 14th and 17th to post a 10-under total of 203, ending the day a stroke in front of South Korean Chun In-gee (62), Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum (65) and second-round leader Ryu So-yeon of South Korea (69).
“Normally if I‘m tied for the lead or one shot behind, I get a little bit excited, but today I‘m not,” Jutanugarn, who is seeking a second LPGA win in as many starts, told reporters.
“I just keep playing my game and have fun and enjoy it with every shot. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but it’s good enough for me to be right here.”
Just under an inch of rain had saturated the River Course earlier on Saturday, making it play much longer from tee to green but more receptive to approach shots.
Ryu, who had been a stroke in front after 36 holes, was tied for the lead with Jutanugarn as she headed to the 18th tee before she dropped her only shot of the day.
”I was almost going to play a bogey-free round and I made a bogey at the last hole,“ said the Korean, who is seeking her fourth LPGA victory. ”I was pretty disappointed.
”I hit a bad tee shot ... but the rest of the day my playing was pretty great. I‘m happy with that.
“If I really think about what’s the difference between yesterday (and today), it’s just the putts were not dropping, so hopefully tomorrow I’ll drop everything.”
Six players held at least a share of the lead during the third round -- Ryu, Jutanugarn, Phatlum, Israel’s Laetitia Beck, Japanese Mika Miyazato and American Stacy Lewis - before Jutanugarn ended the day alone at the top.
New Zealand’s world number one Lydia Ko was six strokes off the pace after carding a second successive 68.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine