South Korea’s Ko Jin-young put up a stout defence of her HSBC Women’s World Championship title in Singapore on Saturday as she posted another seven-under-par 65 to take the third-round lead.
World No 2 Nelly Korda of the United States trailed the defending champion by two shots after carding her third consecutive 68.
Her compatriots Elizabeth Szokol and Allisen Corpuz will head into the final round tied for third place after signing for matching 70s.
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai is on eight under (T10) after a third-round 72.
Ko signalled her intent by charging out quickly with four birdies in her opening five holes on another rainy day, with weather disrupting play for more than two hours at the $1.8-million LPGA Tour event.
Her bogey on the par-three 7 proved to be the only blemish as another four birdies on 8, 13, 16 and 17 would take the 27-year-old to the top of the leaderboard with a three-day total of 14-under-par 202.
“It felt really good today and I hope to keep this momentum going. I have one more round to go and it’s going to be a great honour if I can win and defend my title,” Ko said.
“I know it’s going to be difficult, but I have to focus on playing my own game. If I’m able to do so, the scores will take care of themselves.”
Korda, meanwhile, credited her mental fortitude for keeping her in the hunt for her ninth LPGA win after another testing day.
“After the rain delay, I actually bogeyed 10 and had to tell myself to refocus. With such a long delay, you’re not in a zone where you were playing nine or holes before and you had the momentum,” she said.
“So, I was talking through the shots with my caddie and told myself not to make stupid mistakes. You are definitely a little bit more mentally fried after days like these.”
Corpuz, playing her second year on the LPGA, will be switching into attacking mode with her dream of securing a maiden win on Tour still alive.
“I had the tendency in the past to get a little more conservative when I’m playing under pressure. But I know staying aggressive is needed to win this tournament and I’ll try to take that mindset into tomorrow,” said the 24-year-old. “It’ll be a dream come true to get that win on the LPGA Tour.”
© Agence France-Presse