Yani Tseng of Taiwan shot her first under-par round of the week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Saturday — a three-under 69 — but was still 12 shots behind leader Inbee Park of South Korea in the year’s first major.
Tseng, who started the day tied for 52nd after a three-over 75 on Friday, finished the third round on even-par 216, putting her in a nine-way tie for 30th with one round left to play.
The world No. 2 opened her round on Saturday with a birdie, but lost momentum with bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes to fall to four-over for the tournament.
She then steadied herself to fire an eagle on the ninth hole and birdies on 11 and 12 to get to even-par, but never was able to break into the red, finishing with six consecutive pars.
Tseng hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation on Saturday, her best showing in the first three rounds, but she was again occasionally let down by her putting, needing 30 putts to get through the round.
Park, currently ranked fourth in the world in the Rolex Rankings, extended her lead to three shots over American Lizette Salas after a bogey-free round of five-under 67 left her at 12-under for the tournament.
“I think I played really good the last few years, but I just didn’t putt that well,” Park said. “This week, I’m reading the breaks really good and the putts are rolling in.”
Park’s best finish in this event was a ninth in 2008. She is aiming for her fifth LPGA Tour title and second major championship.
Salas, who tied for 46th in this event last year, has three top-10 finishes in her last four starts, but is still looking for her first LPGA Tour victory.
“Of course I had some nerves, but I started out birdie-birdie. I came out strong, then kind of cruised along,” Salas said.
“I was not hitting the ball as well as the first two days, but I kept giving myself opportunities for a birdie,” she said.
“I played the back nine bogey-less, with only one birdie. You can’t ask for any more than to be in the last group at a major, and this is only my second year out here,” Salas said.
Angela Stanford fired the lowest round of the day, carding a six-under 66 to move into a share of third place at minus-six.
She was joined in third by Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum (70), Australia’s Karrie Webb (67), three-time runner-up Suzann Pettersen (67), Karine Icher (68) and Jessica Korda (68).
Taiwan’s Candie Kung carded a five-over 77, leaving her tied for 70th with a three-day total of 224.