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Tseng leads by 3 at Kia Classic
Carlsbad, CA (Sports Network) - Yani Tseng's drive at the 18th hole went well off-course, down a cart path and bounced across a bridge.
While that seems like the setup for at least a bogey, it was actually a lucky shot for the world No. 1. It brought her closer to the green than a standard drive, and she ended up two-putting for par.
The hole was emblematic for Tseng's third round Saturday at the Kia Classic. She didn't play the best golf of her life, but she still emerged with a three- stroke lead after 54 holes.
Tseng posted a bogey-free, three-under 69 to move to 12-under-par 204. She had held a share of first after the opening round and was ahead by two strokes after the second.
She managed to extend her lead because Se Ri Pak, who was in second place after Friday, struggled to a one-over 73 during her third round. She fell into fifth at minus-six.
Jiyai Shin fired a four-under 68 to rise into second at nine-under 207. Sun Young Yoo carded a 67 on Legends Course at La Costa Resort & Spa, and shares third with Caroline Hedwall (70).
Tseng is a familiar sight at the top of the LPGA leaderboard. She has won 14 titles in her career, including two this year, and is coming off a victory last week at the LPGA Founders Cup.
She is in a position to earn another win thanks to a round she called "so-so."
Tseng birdied her first hole but didn't sink another until the par-five seventh. She made only one more -- at the par-five 12th -- and didn't shoot lower because of missed putts.
"I couldn't believe how [many] short putts I missed out there. I mean, five or six times, especially on the front nine, four in a row, and I didn't make any putts," Tseng said.
Still, she managed not to lose ground. That was evident at the 18th, where her drive didn't get to the fairway. However, she chipped her second shot to the green before saving par.
"I don't know how that happened. [The drive] goes for the bridge, and the bridge was like three yards wide. People are telling me, 'Yani, you just hit a 370 there,' so that was probably the longest drive I've ever hit," Tseng said. "It was fun. I was very happy because I just got lucky there."
Barring any slip-ups, the tournament seems like Tseng's to lose -- and she hasn't done much of that. She's won six of the last seven times she's held a lead going into the final round.
And at the moment, Shin seems like the only person with a shot to catch the 23-year-old star.
Shin made four birdies in her first six holes Saturday, but stumbled to two bogeys just before and after the turn. Another at the 12th brought her back to minus-six.
"This green is pretty bumpy," Shin said. "So when I hit it just straight, it bumped to the right or to the left. I just tried my best every shot. But I was just thinking it was unlucky."
But she followed that with consecutive birdies, then gained another stroke at the 17th to go into the clubhouse at nine-under.
NOTES: The last time Tseng did not win when holding at least a share of the lead going into the final round was at last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship, when Stacy Lewis earned the victory...Defending champion Sandra Gal carded a four-under 68 and is tied for 20th at even-par 216.
03/24 22:42:07 ET
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