Golf: China's Liu, France's Boutier share US Women's Open lead

Liu Yu (left) and Celine Boutier, who forged their friendship when both played on the Duke University golf team that won the 2014 US collegiate title, were tied on seven-under 206.
Liu Yu (left) and Celine Boutier, who forged their friendship when both played on the Duke University golf team that won the 2014 US collegiate title, were tied on seven-under 206.PHOTOS: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS, AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - China's Liu Yu fired a five-under 66 on Saturday (June 1) to seize a share of the third-round lead in the US Women's Open, alongside good friend Celine Boutier of France.

Boutier, who played the last four holes of a second-round 70 on Saturday morning, returned to post a two-under 69 in the third round at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina.

She and Liu, who forged their friendship when both played on the Duke University golf team that won the 2014 US collegiate title, were tied on seven-under 206, one stroke in front of Americans Lexi Thompson (70) and Jaye Marie Green (68), and 36-hole leader Mamiko Higa of Japan (68).

Boutier, who won her first LPGA title at the Vic Open in Australia in February, was alone in front on eight-under until her lone bogey of the round at the 16th.

Liu, seeking her first tour title, started the day four adrift but bounced back from a bogey at the third with three birdies on each side of the turn.

Higa, a 25-year-old playing her first US Women's Open, launched her debut with a sparkling 65 on Thursday, and led by one after a second-round 71. But three birdies and three bogeys in her second straight even-par effort were not enough to keep her on top.

Thompson was even for the day after two front-nine birdies and back-to-back bogeys at the 10th and 11th. But an eagle at the 15th followed by a birdie at the 16th saw her surge into contention with a 68 for 207.