Ariya keeps her cool to grab lead at Kingsmill

Ariya Jutanugarn hitting her tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the Kingsmill Championship. The Thai golfer holds a one-shot lead going into the final round.
Ariya Jutanugarn hitting her tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the Kingsmill Championship. The Thai golfer holds a one-shot lead going into the final round.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Ariya Jutanugarn, who two weeks ago became the first Thai golfer to win an LPGA title, fired a six-under 65 on Saturday to seize a one-stroke lead after the third round of the LPGA Kingsmill Championship.

Her bogey-free round put her on 10-under 203 after 54 holes at the Kingsmill layout in Williamsburg, Virginia, with compatriot Pornanong Phatlum and South Korea's Chun In Gee and Ryu So Yeon one stroke adrift.

After so long a wait to make history for her homeland, Ariya could make the wait for a second Thai victory a very short one.

"Normally if I'm tied for the lead or one shot behind, I get a little bit excited, but today I wasn't," Ariya, who is seeking a second LPGA win in as many starts, told reporters. "I just keep playing my game and have fun and enjoy it with every shot. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but it's good enough for me to be right here."

Her historic victory came at the Yokohama Tyre LPGA Classic in Alabama. But it nearly came in the year's first Major tournament, when Ariya led by two strokes with three holes to play at the ANA Inspiration only to finish with three bogeys in a row and wind up fourth.

On Saturday, she birdied the par-five third and par-four fourth and sixth holes, then made a late charge to grab the lead with birdies at the par-three 13th and 17th and par-four 14th.

Chun fired a 62 despite not feeling 100 per cent.

"Because of the weather and because I have allergies, I did not feel good. It was really bad," she said. "It was windy today, so I did not play with high expectations, but I could focus on my game better."

Pornanong birdied both par-fives and par-threes on the front nine but closed the outward half with her lone bogey. She ran off three birdies in a row starting at the 15th to charge into the last trio with a 65.

Ryu, who shot 64 on Friday to seize a one-shot lead, settled for a 69.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2016, with the headline 'Ariya keeps her cool to grab lead at Kingsmill'. Print Edition | Subscribe