Golf: Closing eagle keeps Ariya ahead in LPGA treble bid, Americans Korda and Kim one back

Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand hits her tee shot to the third green during the third round of the LPGA Volvik Championship on May 28, 2016.
Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand hits her tee shot to the third green during the third round of the LPGA Volvik Championship on May 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

CHICAGO (AFP) - Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn eagled the 18th hole and clung to a one-stroke lead over Americans Jessica Korda and Christina Kim after Saturday's third round of the LPGA Volvik Championship.

Ariya, trying to win her third consecutive event, struggled to a one-over-par 73 but her final shot lofted her to the lead at 10-under 206 at windy Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"To me it was very hard today because (it was) very windy and the greens very, very firm," she said.

The 20-year-old from Bangkok became the first Thai player to win an LPGA title by taking the Yokohama Tire Classic in Alabama earlier this month and added the Kingsmill Championship last week.

A victory this week would make Ariya the first LPGA player to win three events in a row since South Korean Park In Bee in 2013.

Korda, the 23-year-old daughter of former ATP player Petr Korda, fired a 70 while Kim shot 72, each making a birdie at the par-five 18th to finish on 207.

Norway's Suzann Pettersen and South Korean Kim Hyo Joo shared fourth on 209, with Spain's Belen Mozo, American Marina Alex and South Korean Ryu So Yeon another stroke adrift.

Ariya, who opened with two bogey-free rounds, led by two shots when the day began but stumbled early with bogeys at the par-three third and par-five fourth, another to close the front nine and a bogey at No. 13.

"It was not only one bogey. I had four," she said. "First bogey I just feel like, 'Really? I miss like three feet.' So it's going to happen anyway."

But Ariya fought back. She birdied the par-five 14th with an eight-foot putt and gained a shot on her rivals with the eagle at No. 18, rolling her approach to 10 feet.

Kim, who fired a first-round 64, had two bogeys, two birdies and two pars in her first six holes but settled down and surrendered only a bogey at the 15th before closing with a birdie.

Korda opened with a birdie, took a bogey at the third, but answered with birdies at the eighth and 11th before stumbling again with a bogey at 12.

"I just kept telling myself that pars were good," she said. "It's frustrating because you hit some great shots and they don't end up where you think they should. So it was kind of just a little staying patient out there and just making pars."