World No 1 Lydia Ko carded a bogey-free 67 to seize a three-shot lead after three rounds of the Kia Classic in southern California on Saturday.

New Zealander Ko began the day tied for second with Brittany Lang and one shot behind leader Jenny Shin but surged three clear after shooting a tidy five-under round for a 14-under 202 total.

Lang is tied with South Koreans Shin and Park Sung-hyun at 11 under at the demanding Aviara course in Carlsbad.

Ko was two-under for her front nine then reeled off three straight birdies from the 11th to put her in a strong position to win her 11th LPGA Tour title.

"You don't get that many opportunities where you're going into the final round with a three-shot lead," the 18-year-old said. "But I'll take it. I'd rather be a couple shots ahead than a couple shots behind."

Park kicked off a run of five consecutive birdies at the 12th but an errant tee shot on 17 led to a double bogey. She hit back immediately though with a birdie on the final hole to stay in touch.

Australia's Minjee Lee had never made an ace in her life. But when the first one came on Saturday afternoon at Aviara Golf Club, it wasn’t just a typical hole-in-one. Lee used a 5-wood on the 275-yard par-4 16th hole, which was playing 234 yards, to hole out and make only the second hole-in-one on a par-4 in LPGA history.

“I think I had 210 meters to the pin, and I hit my 5-wood, it was a little right-to-left down wind, so yeah, just hit it a little right and then it was going with the wind and went in the hole,” Lee said. “I didn’t see it go in.

Lee’s ace also marked the first albatross of her career. And it just two months after Ha Na Jang became the first player on the LPGA to make a hole-in-one on a par-4 at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Jang holed out from 218 yards with a 3-wood on the eighth hole at the Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the third round of the event.

The first came earlier this year from South Korean Jang Ha-na in the Bahamas.

"Just lucky," said Lee, adding that it was her first hole-in-one. "I hit a good one shot, though. It's a bit of both."

World No 2 Park In-bee is four strokes off the pace on 10-under with Jessica Korda a shot further back.

 

LEADING SCORES

202 - Lydia Ko (NZL) 68-67-67

205 - Park Sung Hyun (KOR) 71-66-68, Brittany Lang 67-68-70, Jenny Shin (KOR) 69-65-71

206 - Park Inbee (KOR) 67-69-70

207 - Jessica Korda 70-67-70

208 - Suzann Pettersen (NOR) 70-72-66, Choi Na Yeon (KOR) 70-69-69, Haru Nomura (JPN) 70-69-69, Hur Mi Jung (KOR) 68-71-69

209 - Candie Kung (TPE) 75-69-65, Danielle Kang 73-70-66, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (GBR) 67-71-71, Kim Hyo Joo (KOR) 70-66-73

 

Photo Credit: 2016 Getty Images

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