Choi stretches LPGA lead to three strokes
South Korea's Na Yeon Choi stretched her lead at the LPGA's Safeway Classic to three shots and said she was excited to be closing in on what could be her first title of 2011.other Updated: Aug 21, 2011 11:02 IST
South Korea's Na Yeon Choi stretched her lead at the LPGA's Safeway Classic to three shots on Saturday, and said she was excited to be closing in on what could be her first title of 2011.
"I was missing that feeling, you know," said Choi, who won twice in 2010 but hasn't managed a victory yet this year despite five top-10 finishes. "I'm very excited. I like this chance."
Choi couldn't match her eight-birdie effort of Friday, which had given her a two-stroke overnight lead.
But her three birdies and one bogey on the par-71 Pumpkin Ridge Layout gave her a 69 for 134, three shots ahead of American Stacy Lewis.
Lewis launched her round with four straight birdies, but dropped three shots with bogeys at five, nine and 10 en route to a 68 for 137.
Japan's Mika Miyazato was two further strokes back after a 67 for 139. South Korea's Grace Park (73) and Americans Brittany Lincicome (68) and Ryann O'Toole (69) were tied on 140.
Choi, who benefited from the softer morning conditions on Friday, encountered tougher going in the heat of Saturday afternoon, when it was hard to stop the ball on the greens and difficult to gauge the "switching" winds.
"My putter wasn't great like yesterday, but I only missed one short putt," Choi said. "I think I like these greens. I can see the line."
Choi said the last time she notched a wire-to-wire victory was at the Jamie Farr Classic in July of last year.
However, she said she'd be going for broke in Sunday's final round of this 54-hole event - at least to start. "I'll start out playing aggressively and then I'll decide how to play," she said. "I want to play my game, not their game or her game."
Lewis, in her third season on the tour, has won her first three career titles this year, including the first major of 2011 at the Kraft Nabisco in April.
Putting was the key to her round, as she made birdie putts of 18, 25, 25 and 30 feet on the first four holes.
"I didn't hit great shots or anything. The putts were just going in," Lewis said. Defending champion Ai Miyazato of Japan carded a 74 and was 10 shots off the pace.