GOLD CANYON (Ariz.) — Celine Boutier, France had an eagle with six birdies in round 7-under 65. She moved to the top of the leaderboard after Moriya Jutanugarn from Thailand fell down the stretch in Saturday’s third round LPGA Drive on Championship.
Boutier, a 29year-old, was a two-time tour winner. She made an eagle 3 at the par-5 2nd hole and added two birdies which offset a bogey on the par-3 8th. She finished the back nine in 4 under, a total of 16-under 200 and a one-stroke advantage over three other players heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I feel like today I had a lot more birdie opportunities,” she said. “I didn’t make all of them but I felt like I did because I was playing very steady and focusing my efforts on hitting good shots and having the best birdie chances.
If the first three rounds of the tour’s first full-field event are any indication, the final should be a scramble. After nine rounds of 7-9-under par, 17 golfers are within three strokes of the lead. Saturday was a birdie-filled day with nine players posting rounds of 7-9-under.
Boutier stated that there are many opportunities. Therefore, he believes that he will have to shoot a low score to have a chance.
At 15 under, Jutanugarn (69), American Alison Lee (67) and South Korea’s Hae Run Ryu (64) were tied for 2nd.
After climbing up the leaderboard with round 63s, Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand and Celine Borge, a rookie from Norway, are back in action.
South Korean two-time major champion Jin Young Ko carded a 4-under68 and tied for seventh at 13 under.
Jutanugarn seemed to be in control of the tournament mid-round with four birdies between Nos. 11 and 15 before falling on the last holes. After making bogey on the first, she moved into the lead of 17 under with two holes remaining. She made bogey 17 under at the par-3 17th. Her second shot was into a lake bordering the left-hand side of the closing hole. She made bogey 6 on the last but looked ahead.
Moriya Jutanugarn (2013 Rookie of The Year) said, “As long I’m still within contention, I’m pretty satisfied with that.” She has two tour wins. “It’s not the finish that I want, but it’s there.”
Lee overcome a bogey at 3 and made six birdies throughout the round to secure her first LPGA win. The 28-year-old made it through 22 of her 24 events last year, with a T-5 being her best finish at Women’s Scottish Open.
Lee stated, “I have some work to complete tomorrow.” “I know that for certain. Before I tee off, Amy Yang shot 9 under. I was like, “Wow, that’s a lot of work today.”
“With this in mind, it’s not easy for me to feel at ease. I know that tomorrow I’ll have to push the gas pedal.”
Ryu gained momentum throughout her round, making six birdies before closing with an eagle-3 on the par-5 18. The first-year player on the tour hopes to draw upon her previous experience for the final round.
The 22-year old said, “I played in the last groups a lot when playing in Korea, but I first played in the LPGA, so it really does feel like a rookie-rookie.” “I’ll be taking each shot with care tomorrow.”
No. No. 2. Nelly Korda was the highest-ranked player in this field. Top-ranked Lydia Ko was not participating. She was at 10 Under after a third round 70. Leona Maguire, the defending champion shot a 69 to finish at 9 under.