April 24, 2016 / 3:13 AM / 3 years ago

Nomura skirts rules violation to maintain lead

(Reuters) - Japan’s Haru Nomura posted a one-under-par 71 to remain three shots clear of the field after three rounds at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in San Francisco on Saturday.

Haru Nomura of Japan tees off the fifth hole during the second round of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic women's golf tournament at the Grey Silo course in Waterloo, June 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The 23-year-old, who won the Women’s Australian Open in February, recorded three birdies and two bogeys for a 54-hole total of 10-under at Lake Merced Golf Club.

South African Lee-Anne Pace and South Korean Choi Na-yeon were at seven-under after scores of 69 and 71.

LPGA officials met with Nomura and her caddie after her round to discuss a possible rules violation on the sixth where she had an awkward side-hill stance in a greenside bunker with the ball below her feet and had to dig in her left foot.

Rule 13-3 states: “a player is entitled to place her feet firmly in taking a stance, but she must not build a stance,” but the LPGA rules committee later said in a statement “it was determined that no breach occurred”.

An infraction would have cost her a two-stroke penalty.

“For me the two-stroke penalty, it wouldn’t really have made a big difference,” Nomura told reporters.

“If I did something wrong, I have to accept it. But there was really no clear rule about what the guidelines were, so I would just focus on my game and just leave it at that.”

Nomura began the round with a three-shot advantage and increased that lead when she rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at 10. But she dropped a shot with a bogey at 12 and closed with six straight pars.

Canadian Brooke Henderson (69), Scot Catriona Matthew (71), American Gerina Piller (72) and South Korean Ryu So-yeon (73) are tied for fourth at five-under.

Two-time defending champion and world number one Lydia Ko carded a 73 for a four-under total.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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