Spain’s Beatriz Recari and US veteran Paula Creamer each fired four-under 67s on Saturday to share the lead after the third round of the US$1.3 million LPGA Marathon Classic.
Both players enjoyed a bogey-free round to finish 54 holes on 12-under 201, three strokes ahead of Japan’s Chi Arimura, and Americans Lexi Thompson and Jacqui Concolino.
“I gave myself some opportunities I didn’t really capitalize on,” Creamer said. “I’ve always hit the ball well. It’s just making those putts.”
Creamer, who won the event in 2008, was seeking her 10th LPGA Tour title and her first since taking her only major crown at the 2010 US Women’s Open. Since then, she has had 21 top 10 finishes without a victory.
“I’m in a good spot going into tomorrow,” Creamer said. “If I get on a run with some putts going in, who knows what can happen.”
Recari, a winner both times she has led or shared the lead entering the final round of an LPGA Tour event, was seeking her third career crown after a win at this year’s Kia Classic and the 2010 LPGA Challenge.
Creamer has seven triumphs and four runner-up efforts from 15 events she has led or co-lead entering the last round.
Creamer birdied the fourth and ninth holes, sank a testy eight-foot downhill birdie putt at the 13th and a dramatic 20-foot chip-in birdie from just off the edge of the green at the par-five 17th.
“She’s a real fighter and a big competitor,” Recari said of playing partner Creamer. “It was no surprise to see that chip-in for birdie on 17.”
A February traffic accident in Thailand left Creamer with some neck pain, but she was third the next week in Singapore and is healthy now with a new attitude toward the sport.
“The accident put me in a place where I realize things could be taken away so fast. I’m just happy to be out here and playing,” Creamer said. “Having that happen so early in the year really allowed me to put a lot of things in perspective.”
Recari opened with a birdie, added another at the 13th and then birdied the par-five 17th and 18th, closing with a tense six-foot birdie putt to match Creamer for the lead.
“I hit my irons well and gave myself chances all day,” Recari said. “I had some putts run by the hole. I just had to stay patient and I finally got the birdies at 17 and 18.”
Taiwan’s Candie Kung was tied for 29th place after a round of 70 put her on three-under 210, while World No. 1 Inbee Park of South Korea, who has won the season’s first three majors, stumbled to a 73 to stand a stroke better off.
Before she tries to continue her Grand Slam bid next month at the Women’s British Open, she will return home to South Korea for the first time since April.
“I’m going to be in [South] Korea for five days,” Park said. “A lot of people will be wanting me and I will have a lot of attention. I hope to have some relaxation and practice to get ready for the British Open.”
Additional reporting by staff writer