China’s Feng Shanshan had an eagle and three birdies in a four-under 67 on Saturday to seize a two-stroke lead in the LPGA Manulife Financial Classic.
Feng had a 15-under total of 198, two strokes in front of South Korea’s Inbee Park and Michelle Wie of the US.
Park, who had held the world No. 1 ranking for 59 straight weeks before she was dislodged by Stacy Lewis last week, continued her climb up the leaderboard with six birdies and no bogeys in a 65.
Wie joined her on 200 with a three-under 68 that featured six birdies and three bogeys on Grey Silo Golf Course.
Feng is seeking her fourth LPGA Tour victory and her first since the season-ending CME Group Titleholders last year. Park is after her first win of the season.
Feng got off to a great start and was four-under through her first six holes with an eagle and two birdies, but she later admitted she may have tried too hard to maintain that pace.
“Maybe that actually made me think a little more that I wanted to do better — then I couldn’t make a lot of putts,” Feng said. “Actually, I missed a lot of birdie putts and then plus one bogey, so actually I dropped back one shot.”
Feng had led by as many as four before her bogey at 16, where she was in the hazard off the tee. She missed a five-foot putt to save par and preserved a two-stroke cushion with pars at her final two holes.
Park, who said that losing the top spot in the rankings might be just the motivation she needs, would be pleased to notch her first win of the season two weeks before she defends her title at the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst.
“Just the first [win] is very important,” Park said. “That gives you so much confidence that you can just play without the pressure for the next event.”
Cristie Kerr of the US was alone in fourth after a 65 for 201, while New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko had seven birdies in a flawless seven-under 64 for 202, level with Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, who posted a 69.
Defending champion Park Hee-young of South Korea was undone by three late bogeys, posting a one-over 72 that left her in a group of four players on 203 along with Taiwan’s Candie Kung, who fired a 65 to roar into contention.
Additional reporting by staff writer