Two-time champion Cristie Kerr shot a 5-under 66 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over second-ranked Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen after the third round of the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship.
Kerr, the only two-time winner at the River Course, made six birdies to reach 10-under 203. She took command on a day when seven players shared the lead at one point or another, then faltered or couldn’t keep pace.
”Saturday is definitely moving day, but I’ve got to look at it like I’m two back tomorrow because that’s when I play my best golf,” Kerr said. ”I’m looking at it as moving day tomorrow as well because if you’re not moving, someone else is going to. That’s kind of where my head is right now.”
Lewis shot a 69, and Pettersen, the 2007 champion, had a 68. Angela Stanford was three strokes back after a 70, and Ilhee Lee was fifth at 6 under after an all-over-the-place 69.
”There’s definitely no chickens to be counted,” Kerr said. ”You have to play a really good round tomorrow whether you’re two ahead or two behind.”
Ariya Jutanugarn, the 17-year-old Thai player who led after each of the first two rounds, had three bogeys and a birdie on her first four holes and finished with a 73 that left her five shots back, where she was tied with Lizette Salas, whose bogey-free 65 was the best round of the day.
For much of the day, the busiest person at Kingsmill was updating the leaderboard.
Pettersen, the 2007 champion, was among the early leaders, but a bogey after missing the fairway to the right at No. 9 dropped her back and she managed only one birdie on the back nine. Lewis, her playing partner, shook off an early bogey with three birdies, two late in the round.
”My round was pretty boring and pretty frustrating,” said Lewis, who has struggled reading the greens all week.
”We both kind of feel like we left a couple out there and there’s still a low one out there,” Pettersen added.
The day began looking like an opportunity to make a big move, mostly because Salas was almost finished as the leaders teed off.
But with the wind continuing to swirl on the 6,379-yard layout along the James River, the greens got harder, tee shots rolled farther and the changing conditions produced birdies, and bogeys, in abundance.
Lee moved into the early lead when a 3-foot birdie putt on No. 8 moved her to 5 under for the day and 9 under overall, but she gave all five shots back on the first four holes of the back nine, including back-to-back double bogeys on the par-4 12th and par-3 13th.
Two early birdies got Sandra Gal to 7 under, but she was 4 over on the back.