South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo had two late birdies to maintain her three-shot lead Friday in the third round of the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii.
Kim, 26, posted an even-par 72 at Hoakalei Country Club for a 10-under-par total of 206 going into Saturday’s final round.
She was three strokes clear of American Brianna Do and Japan’s Hinako Shibuno. Do matched the low round of the day with a five-under-par 67 while Shibuno signed for a 68.
It was a further stroke back to Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow and South Korean Lee So-mi, who both carded 69s for 210.
Kim, the world number 13 whose four LPGA titles include a major triumph at the 2014 Evian Championship, opened the day with a three-shot lead that dwindled with her bogeys at the seventh and 12th.
But she birdied the par-four 14th and almost holed out for an eagle from a greenside bunker at 18.
“It was very important because it was a matter of over-par or not,” she said of her finishing birdie. “I had a chance at the 16th hole, but I missed so I was a little angry. Now I feel much better since I made a birdie on the last hole.”
Kim said the windy conditions were difficult.
“There was a lot of wind going back and forth,” she said. “I think it was difficult because it was not specifically (in one) direction.”
Do, chasing a first LPGA title, got off to a hot start with birdies at her first three holes, finishing with six birdies and one bogey.
Shibuno surged late, with birdies at the 10th, 11th, 14th and 17th in a bogey-free effort.
Defending champion Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who won last year at Kapolei before the tournament moved this year to Hoakalei, carded a one-over 73 that left her at one-over for the tournament and tied for 33rd.