Ariya falters but retains lead at Canadian Open

LOS ANGELES • Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn could have gone into the final round of the Canadian Women's Open with a bigger lead.

She made two bogeys on holes 16 and 18 but still finished the third round with a five-under 67 for a 199 total at the Priddis Greens Country Club course in Calgary, Alberta.

Those two bogeys were merely a small stumble on another brilliant round by the LPGA Tour's biggest rising star as she took a two-shot lead over South Korea's Chun In Gee.

"Feeling good," Ariya said, a week after withdrawing from the Rio Olympics because of an injury to her left knee. "I mean, I had two bogeys the last three holes, but I still shot five under, so it's still good."

The 20-year-old Thai posted seven birdies from the fourth through the 14 holes.

"I keep the eye on me," she said. "I don't really care who the leader is. I really want to play my game and be happy on the course.

"Tomorrow, I really want to have fun, and I really want to be happy on the course."

Ariya has three titles this year on the LPGA Tour, comprising the Yokohama Tire Classic, Kingsmill Championship and Volvik Championship.

She also won the British Open last month and the 2013 Lalla Meryem Cup on the Ladies European Tour.

Chun, last year's US Women's Open champion, stormed into contention with a bogey-free 66, posting three birdies on each nine.

The final round will likely be a two-woman race with Northern Ireland's Stephanie Meadow and South Korean Kim Sei Young five strokes off the lead in a tie for third.

"After I won my first tournament, I kind of know how I play under pressure, so I know when I get really excited what I have to do," Jutanugarn said.

Chun said: "I'm going to just focus on my game against the golf course and see where I am (positioned)later."

New Zealand's world No. 1 Lydia Ko fired a two-under 70 but slipped seven strokes behind Ariya in her quest to post a fourth victory in the event before reaching the age of 20.

Crowd favourite Alena Sharp of Canada posted a 67 with four birdies coming home and was six strokes down in a tie for fifth with Anna Nordqvist (66), of Sweden, and three more South Koreans - Jang Ha Na (67), Amy Yang (68) and Chella Choi (69).

Canadian Brooke Henderson, another crowd favourite, was tied for 21st after a second consecutive 68 following an opening 72.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Ariya falters but retains lead at Canadian Open'. Print Edition | Subscribe