ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — In-Kyung Kim began her round with a flurry of birdies, and Stacy Lewis — playing five months’ pregnant — closed hers out in similar fashion.
They both still have work to do if they’re going to catch Minjee Lee, whose steady consistency has been enough so far.
Lee shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the LPGA Volvik Championship. She capped a bogey-free third round with a birdie on No. 18 to get to 12 under, and now the Australian standout will try to celebrate her birthday with her first victory of the year. She turns 22 on Sunday.
“It was pretty solid today,” Lee said. “I didn’t make any bogeys. Just four birdies on the card. Yeah, that’s pretty good.”
Expecting her first child in November, Lewis birdied five of the last six holes for a 67. She finished the day at 10 under along with Kim (67), who birdied six of the first eight holes and shot a 31 on the front nine.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff (69) and Lindy Duncan (69) were also at 10 under, and five more players were at 9 under, setting the stage for what could be a wild final round.
“This golf course, you can shoot a number, you can shoot 6 or 7 under, but you can also play pretty good and shoot even par,” Lewis said. “So you’ve just got to get runs like I did there at the end of the day and just keep hanging around and post a number and see what happens. That’s what wins these things.”
Lee left a putt about 8 feet short on the par-3 16th, but she was able to par that hole. Then she hit a provisional after a wayward tee shot on 17, but her original ball was OK in the rough, and she parred that hole too.
She has made only two bogeys in three days. Lee lost this tournament by one stroke last year to Shanshan Feng.
Kim couldn’t maintain her torrid early pace, playing the back nine in even par. Lewis, meanwhile, was having a quiet round until her impressive stretch toward the end.
“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime right now, but other than that I feel pretty good,” she said after the round.
Ewart Shadoff holed out from about 85 yards for an eagle on No. 4. She was 11 under when she made the turn but had her ups and downs after that, making three bogeys and two birdies on the back.
She’s been dealing with a lower back injury recently.
“It’s better,” Ewart Shadoff said. “This is the first time I’ve done three or four consecutive rounds in a row.”
Nasa Hataoka, the 36-hole leader , shot a 74 and dropped to 7 under.
Play was interrupted for about two hours by a weather delay, and the timing was particularly interesting for Lizette Salas. She was about to putt for par from only a couple feet on No. 18 when the horn went off, signaling for players to clear the course.
So Salas (70) had to wait out the delay before returning to make her routine putt. She received a big cheer when she did. Playing partner Wichanee Meechai finished the 18th just before the delay, but she had to come back to the green as well because of scorecard protocol. Players did have a chance to warm up before play resumed.
“Practice my 2-footers,” Salas said. “I was actually really nervous.”
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