Michelle Wie fired a 5-under-par 67 to enter Sunday’s final round at the HSBC Women’s Champions with a two-shot lead over World No.1 Lydia Ko, World No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn, and Sung Hyun Park.
“I'm having a lot of fun this week,” said Wie. “That was my goal at the beginning of the week, just play as hard as I can and have fun. I've been having some great groups out there and just having a lot of fun.”
Wie, who has battled a myriad of injuries and struggled with her play since her tremendous 2014 season, has worked hard on her game – especially her putting, having abandoned the ‘table-top’ style she had been employing the last season or so for a more traditional style this year – and its finally starting to pay off for the 27-year-old.
“I've been in this position before, and that's what I practice for is to be in this position. That's what I wake up and practice long hours for is to be in this position, and try to do my best in it,” she said.
Wie sits at -14 for the week, marking the first time since October 2014 she’s been at double-digits under par at an LPGA event.
Ko, who matched Wie’s 5-under-par 67 Saturday, started her day with two-straight birdies, and was -4 on her front nine. Her seven birdies on the day were offset by two bogeys, and the 19-year-old has gotten progressively better as the tournament has gone on, firing rounds of 69-68-67.
Jutanugarn cannot overtake Ko on top of the Rolex Rankings this week even with a victory, but the World No. 2’s 3-under-par 69 has her sitting tied for second with Ko.
“On the front nine I hit it very good and I made some putts,” said Jutanugarn of her round. “On the back nine I didn’t make the putts like on the front nine.”
Defending champion Ha Na Jung – a winner already on the LPGA Tour in 2017 – shot a 4-under 68 Saturday and sits tied for fifth after birding four of her final six holes of the day. She said she’s trying to treat this week as any other, and not as the defending champion.
“I just think about it exactly the same tournament. Just a tournament, not the defending champion. I like the golf course,” said Jung. “It's a golf course that’s really beautiful, a little firm around the green and a little difficult from the fairway. It's simple, not really pressure for me.”
Inbee Park, who started the day leading, couldn’t get anything going Saturday. Her 1-under-par 71 dropped her into a tie for fifth, three shots back of the lead.
“My ball-striking was consistent, but I just could not hole one putt out there. I holed two long ones, but I couldn't hole anything else. Anything inside five to ten feet today, I think I missed six or seven of them today,” said Park. “A little bit disappointing obviously but it's good my ball-striking is still there.”
Charley Hull dropped down the leaderboard with a level-par 72, she sits on T17 alongside compatriot Jodi Ewart Shadoff who carded a third round 68.
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