Cristie Kerr’s five-stroke lead quickly evaporated on moving day as her playing partner Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji and In-Kyung Kim chased down the 36-hole leader to take the lead at the Kia Classic.
Kerr followed her second round, 64 with a three-over par, 75 on Saturday to trail by one. Salas, Ji and Kim lead at 11-under par.
“I just didn't have it,” Kerr said after her round. “I've got to go work on my game a little bit.”
Saturday, Kerr was the only player in the top-25 to finish over par for the day. Her struggles came early with a bogey at the second, but the five-stroke cushion with which she started the day provided enough of a buffer that she was able to hold on to the lead well into the back nine, even as her competitors closed in.
As Kerr made bogey from the wooded area off the green at the par 4, 12th hole, Salas rolled in a putt for birdie for a two-shot swing that put Salas within one of the leader. Kerr’s struggles continued at the par 4, 15th when she pulled her tee shot left into the hazard. She took a drop on the cart path and hit a fairway wood off the path into the rough left of the green. The double bogey ate up the remainder of Kerr’s lead.
In the final group, Salas played alongside 36-hole leader Cristie Kerr. She began the day five-strokes back of the lead, but as Kerr stumbled early, Salas soared. She made three birdies in her first seven holes, offset by a bogey at the fifth. The moment got the better of her at the par, 4 16th hole where she missed an eagle and subsequent birdie opportunity to take the outright lead. She settled for a third round, 69 to sleep on a share of the 54-hole lead.
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