Michelle Wie moved into position for her first U.S. LPGA Tour victory, shooting a 2-under 70 in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational for a share of the third-round lead with Cristie Kerr on Saturday.
Kerr had a 67 to match Wie at 10 under at Guadalajara Country Club.
Three others were a shot back: Second-round leader Jiyai Shin (74), Paula Creamer (71) and first-round leader Song-Hee Kim (70). Yani Tseng of Taiwan was three back after a 69.
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Tournament host Lorena Ochoa shot 72, leaving her six strokes off the lead. Ai Miyazato, the No. 2 money winner this season, had a 70 and trailed by seven.
The 20-year-old Wie, who turned professional four years ago, has been here before.
She was tied for the lead going into the final round in February at the SBS Open in Hawaii – her first U.S. LPGA event as a member – but lost by three shots to Angela Stanford.
“I don’t want to talk about what happened then,” Wie said. “It’s unfortunate. All I want to think about is tomorrow and how I’m going to play tomorrow.”
Wie opened with two straight birdies – a 10-footer on the first and a 30-footer on the second. A 3-foot birdie putt on 13 gave put her a three-way tie with Shin and Creamer at 11 under. After that it was about holding on. Wie dropped one more shot before the round was over, but Shin and Creamer each dropped two.
Wie and Creamer are clearly the people’s choice behind hometown favorite Ochoa.
“We could hear them (fans) chanting – like singing off and on,” Wie said. “It was kind of cool. They were just really riled up and they are really excited to be here. Which makes us really happy to play in front of them.”
Kerr, who won her 12th tour title this year, saw her round turn on the 16th when a 9-iron from 137 yards went in for an eagle to put her at 10 under. She then saved par on the final two holes.
“I said to my caddie, today is moving day and that’s what I did,” Kerr said. “I moved into position and I’m excited to be here. This is what Tiger Woods does every week. This is where he wants to be and this is what I want to be.”
Second-round leader Shin slipped with three bogeys on the back nine – and two on the final three holes. She entered the round with a three-stroke lead, and if she wins on Sunday she could claim the player of the year award. Ochoa has won the last three.
Shin has already been named rookie of the year ahead of Wie, and is also the season’s top money winner. She’s looking for her fourth victory this season.
Nancy Lopez in 1978 was the last player to win both the rookie and player of the year awards.
“Every player in four rounds – one will be really hard and today was my bad day,” Shin said. “Tomorrow I think I should make a comeback.”
Kim, another South Korean and the first-round leader, is also looking for her first tour win.
“I have had a lot of chances to win this year,” she said. “I mean, I’m really excited to play tomorrow.”
Creamer is an eight-time winner, but she’s winless this season while battling yearlong stomach problems combined with back and thumb injuries. The stomach problems began a year ago after this tournament, but have popped up everywhere including in the U.S.
She was upbeat despite three bogeys over the last four holes.
“I played well all day, it was just unfortunate the last four holes,” she said. “I’m ready to go. I want to go out there and play. I haven’t been in this situation for quite some time.”