Nomura stays in front by 2 strokes

Strong winds failed to stop the in-form Nomura.
Strong winds failed to stop the in-form Nomura.

LOS ANGELES • Japan's Haru Nomura stretched her lead to two strokes at the wind-whipped LPGA Texas Shootout on Saturday, firing a one-over-par 72 at Las Colinas Country Club in suburban Dallas.

She looked poised to take an even bigger lead into this morning's (Singapore time) final round before a double-bogey at the par-three 17th, where her tee shot landed in long grass.

But her one-over effort, which included two birdies and a bogey, was good enough for an eight-under total of 205 for 54 holes and a two-shot lead over South Korean star Park In Bee (71), American Cristie Kerr (70) and South Korean amateur Seong Eun Jeong (69).

Nomura, who won twice on the LPGA Tour last year, said she enjoyed the windy weather.

"Windy (is) easy," she said. "I like windy and tough conditions, from fairway to green. I love it."

Officials sent the players off early in groups of three in a bid to beat storms forecast for the area, but players still had to contend with gusting winds.

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn, who has been homing in on New Zealander Lydia Ko's world No. 1 ranking for weeks, could not master the demanding conditions.

One shot behind Nomura to start the round, she had six bogeys and just one birdie in a five-over 76 that left her five off the pace in a group on 210 that also included her sister Moriya.

Her difficulties put a dent in her chances of overtaking Ko atop the rankings with a win this week, even though the New Zealander pulled out of the tournament before the second round because of an eye infection.

Ko was one-over through two rounds, but her agent, Michael Kim, said in a statement that an infection had caused one of her eyes to swell. It was believed the infection originated with an allergy that had bothered her all week.

South Korean Ryu So Yeon, who headed a group on 211, also has a chance to supplant Ko atop the rankings - with a win or a runner-up finish.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2017, with the headline 'Nomura stays in front by 2 strokes'. Print Edition | Subscribe