PATTAYA, Thailand: Teen golfing sensation Ariya Jutanugarn tore into a three-shot lead on home soil at the Honda LPGA Thailand yesterday, as overnight leader Stacy Lewis wobbled in a see-sawing third round.
Trailing world No. 3 Lewis by three shots at the start of play, the 17-year-old Thai delighted the crowd with seven birdies, including five in a row, to finish at a two-under 70 for the day, and 205 for the tournament with one day to go.
The chasing pack — at eight-under after three days — comprises Lewis, who posted an error-strewn four-over 76, Beatriz Recari of Spain who made par and Se Ri Pak, who leads the Korean contingent and recorded a solid one-under.
Her compatriot Inbee Park sits at seven-under, with American Lizette Salas and Korean So-Yeon Ryu tied a shot further back — the latter providing one of the day’s highlights with a delightful chip in from the bunker.
It was a tough day to make low scores, with most cards peppered with bogeys — something Recari attributed to the windy conditions.
“On the front nine there were some tricky pins. The other nine it seemed like the greens were much faster,” the Spaniard said after her round, which left her within striking distance of Ariya.
“I would love to be in the first spot but definitely we can reach (Ariya). So I’m pretty confident for tomorrow and in a good position.”
The Thai goes into the final day on the back of two blistering rounds of golf which have belied her callow years and heaped pressure on her more experienced rivals.
She put Lewis on the back foot with a birdie at the par five first and the American then went on to drop two shots as her confidence appeared to ebb away.
But Lewis’s three-shot lead was restored by the end of the front nine with a birdie boosted by a nightmare double-bogey for the Thai youngster on the ninth.
Undeterred, Ariya bounced into the back nine, notching a remarkable run of five birdies to the delight of the partisan crowd at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya.
Lewis cut an increasingly frustrated figure as she bogeyed the last three holes — a scuffed shot to the final green summing up a day littered with mistakes.
It was another fairly uninspiring day for world number one Tseng Yani of Taiwan, who made par for the day but sits well out of contention at one-under, having failed to recover from a shocking first round.