Japan’s Chie Arimura held a one-stroke lead over Australia’s Karrie Webb after the third round of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore yesterday.
It was a two-way battle right from the start between the 23-year-old Japanese playing in her first tournament of the year and the veteran Webb, the two of them playing in the final group alongside Yoo Sun-young of South Korea.
Ranked 19th in the world, Arimura carded a one-under 71 for an 11-under total of 205 with 18 holes left to play at the Tanah Merah Country Club’s Garden Course.
“I enjoyed my round today, playing with Karrie and Sun-young,” said Arimura, who plays mostly in Japan and is bidding to win her first tournament victory outside her country. “Obviously, I was in the last group, so it was a tense atmosphere, but still I had fun.”
The Japanese saw her overnight two-stroke advantage over Webb shrink to just one when the Australian closed out with a birdie at the final hole to finish at two-under 70 in the third round.
Arimura came agonizingly close to making a birdie putt on the 18th, which would have given her a more comfortable cushion over Webb heading into the final round today, but the ball just missed the cup.
The Japanese, who has won six tour titles in Japan since turning professional in 2006, believes her experience gained competing in 10 previous LPGA Tour events has lifted her confidence.
“Obviously, my past experience playing the LPGA has helped me a lot,” Arimura said at the post-round press conference. “When I first played the LPGA, I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to expect, but the past experience I had, I got to know a lot of players on the tour and now I get to speak to them during the round and I could get relaxed playing on my own pace, so it definitely helped.”
Webb, who is at 10-under 206 after 54 holes, is attempting to win her 37th title on the LPGA Tour and the veteran Australian believes she has a good shot after a solid third round.
“I played pretty solid. I didn’t make too many mistakes,” the 36-year-old said.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng was tied in third place with two other South Koreans after the Taiwanese champion fired a 69 for a five-under total of 211, six shots behind Arimura.
Tseng, scheduled to play the final 18 holes today in the final group with Arimura and Webb, finished her third round with a birdie on the final hole and was three-under for the day.
“Very exciting for me to finish birdie,” said Tseng, who came into Singapore on the back of four tournament wins this year. “I know everybody was thinking if I can win five in a row, but I’m kind of pretty relaxed.”
Tseng was the hottest player coming into the tournament, having won the season-opening LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya last week. Before her victory in Thailand, Tseng also chalked up two consecutive wins on the Ladies European Tour in Australia and took top honors at a small professional event in Taiwan last month.
Fellow Taiwanese Candie Kung shot a 74 for a two-over total of 218, while compatriot Amy Hung also carded a 74 for 220, two shots further back.
The shot of the third round came from Choi Na-yeon of South Korea who chipped in for an eagle at the par-five 13th from beyond the edge of the putting green.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER