November 9, 2018 / 4:16 PM / 9 days ago

Lopez claims Blue Bay lead on birthday

FILE PHOTO: May 31, 2018; Shoal Creek, AL, USA; Gaby Lopez hits from the 18th tee box during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open Championship golf tournament at Shoal Creek. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Gaby Lopez celebrated her 25th birthday by shooting a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead at the Blue Bay LPGA tournament at Hainan Island, China on Friday.

Lopez, of Mexico, capped her day with an ace for eagle on No. 17 and a birdie on No. 18 to grab the lead. She’ll enter the final round looking for her first LPGA victory.

Top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn, who started the day with a four-stroke lead, sits one shot back after a 1-under 71. Her third bogey of the day came on the final hole and offset two birdies and an eagle.

“I’m very lucky to share the course with the best player in the world,” Lopez said. “You know, I had fun. I enjoyed today.”

Thailand’s Jutanugarn was in a group with Lopez and her older sister, Moriya, who also struggled, finishing in a tie for seventh after a 2-over 74.

South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park and Sei Young Kim are another four strokes back in a tie for third at 4-under.

American Jennifer Song shot even par for the day to remain at 3-under and alone in fifth place.

Thidapa Suwannapura (Thailand), the first-round leader, continued to plummet down the leaderboard after shooting a 6-over 78 to put her at 5 over after three rounds. She shot 68 in the first round.

—Field Level Media

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