US veteran Cristie Kerr, seeking her second US Women’s Open title in three years, fired a one-over par 72 on Saturday and stretched her lead to two strokes after the third round.
Kerr stood on two-under par 211 after 54 holes in the third major women’s golf championship of the season with South Korea’s Ji Eun-hee second on 213, one stroke ahead of Taiwan’s Teresa Lu and Jean Reynolds of the US.
“I feel like I played great,” Kerr said. “I had a couple opportunities for birdies that just didn’t quite go in. I feel calm. I’m not nervous. I know what I’ve got to do tomorrow and I’m just going to go out and do it.”
Ji and Lu each fired a third-round 70 on Saturday while Reynolds had a 74 and American Paula Creamer, second to Kerr by one stroke at the start of the day, tumbled out of contention with a 79.
Kerr took a bogey at the par-4 second but answered with a birdie at the par-3 fourth. She took a bogey at the par-3 ninth but played the back side even, following a birdie at the par-4 15th with a bogey at the par-4 16th.
Kerr, a 12-time winner on the LPGA Tour who won the 2007 title, said it would be important to continue to play smart and conservative golf on the difficult course.
“If you’re playing well, the temptation is to want to try and go for more pins and birdies, and on this golf course you can’t do it because it’ll bite you right in the butt,” Kerr said.
“You’ve got to play smart golf. I’ve still got to play strategically smart, which is what I’ve done the last three days. Like I said, on this course it’s also about eliminating mistakes as much as it is making birdies,” she said.
Reynolds faded with three bogeys in her final four holes but was ready for an expected struggle in yesterday’s final round, the first time she has ever been in contention for a major title.
“I’ve hung in there. I’m still pleased with where I stand,” Reynolds said. “I can’t be disappointed. I’m looking forward to the final round. I’ve never played in this arena before. It’s just absolutely incredible. I’m happy.”
Taiwan’s Candie Kung and South Koreans Park Hee-young and Kim In-kyung were five adrift on 216, one stroke ahead of Korean Bae Kyeong, Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and American Brittany Lincicome.