Despite making her first bogey since the 15th hole of the first round, 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.

“It's fun being in contention. It's fun being in this position. I'm going to go out with the same mind-set that I had today and just go out and play as hard as I can,” Wie explained. “There definitely is some butterflies out there, but it's exciting getting that feeling again and being in this position. It's a great feeling. It's really exciting. I just want to go out there and have fun tomorrow and really enjoy it.”

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.

“The girls are playing great, and every time I look at the screen, somebody is making another putt. It just shows how well the girls are playing and you know how many birdies are actually happening,” said Ko of her fellow competitors. “That's what I've been trying to do the past few days, and that's the mind-set I've got to take on to tomorrow, because there are birdies out there. I think I need to just focus on my game. The holes that I can be aggressive on, be aggressive, and the holes where par is a good score, be smart.”

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.”

Jessica Korda, who has been quite sick all week, taking to Instagram to document her ailments, battled to a 5-under-par 67. Her bogey-free round Saturday helped move her into a tie for 11th.

So Yeon Ryu, Jennifer Song, Lexi Thompson, and Amy Yang – a winner on the LPGA Tour already in 2017 – all shot matching 6-under-par 66s Saturday, the round of the tournament so far. Yang was moving day’s biggest climber, up about 20 spots on the leaderboard from Friday.

There was a one hour, 45 minute delay due to lightning and inclement weather in the area of the Sentosa Golf Club which forced golfers off the course midday Saturday.

 

HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS THIRD-ROUND SCORES

202 - Michelle Wie 66-69-67 (USA)

204 - Lydia Ko 69-68-67 (NZL), Park Sung-Hyun 68-68-68 (KOR), Ariya Jutanugarn 67-68-69 (THA)

205 - Jang Ha-Na 70-67-68 (KOR), Park In-Bee 67-67-71 (KOR)

207 - Feng Shanshan 70-68-69 (CHN), Anna Nordqvist 67-70-70 (SWE), Suzann Pettersen 69-67-71 (NOR), Hur Mi-Jung 68-67-72 (KOR)

208 - Amy Yang 71-71-66 (KOR), Morgan Pressel 69-72-67 (USA), Jessica Korda 71-70-67 (USA), Paula Creamer 68-70-70 (USA), Brooke Henderson 67-70-71 (CAN), Kim Sei-Young 70-67-71 (KOR)

209 - Catriona Matthew 73-69-67 (SCO), Ryu So-Seon 73-70-66 (KOR), Jodi Ewart Shadoff 71-70-68 (ENG), Minjee Lee 69-71-69 (AUS), Charley Hull 69-68-72 (ENG)

 

Image Source: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images AsiaPac

 

Written By: Adam Stanley, LPGA

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