Golf: Lexi Thompson in control at LPGA Tour C'ship as she aims to exorcise ghost of 2017 missed putt

Lexi Thompson talking with her caddie, brother Curtis, on the fourth tee during the third round of the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on Nov 17, 2018 in Naples, Florida. She has a three-shot lead.
Lexi Thompson talking with her caddie, brother Curtis, on the fourth tee during the third round of the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on Nov 17, 2018 in Naples, Florida. She has a three-shot lead.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Lexi Thompson fired a four-under 68 on Saturday (Nov 17) to take a commanding three-shot lead over Nelly Korda in the LPGA's season-ending Tour Championship in Naples, Florida.

The 23-year-old made four of her five birdies on the back nine at Tiburon Golf Club to put herself in position for a first win of 2018.

"Golf is all about momentum," said Thompson, who can expunge the memory of a missed two-footer that cost her victory here last year.

"I just tried to keep the same attitude as I did the last two days," said Thompson, adding that having her brother, Curtis, on her bag had kept things relaxed.

"He's always cracking jokes out there," she said. "It's been a nice, relaxing week just having him on the bag and having all my family and friends out here supporting me."

A victory would extend Thompson's streak to six straight LPGA seasons with at least one win.

Her 16-under total of 200 put her three clear of Korda, who had eight birdies in her 67. It was a further three shots back to Spain's Carlota Ciganda, who had three birdies without a bogey in her 69.

World No. 1 and defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn goes into the final round 10 adrift, but she is still in position to claim the US$1 million (S$1.37 million) bonus for winning the LPGA's Race to the CME Globe season-long points chase for the second time in three years.

The 22-year-old from Thailand, whose three titles this year include her second Major at the US Women's Open, is already assured of claiming Player of the Year honours. She is also closing in on the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average in 2018.

"I did a pretty good job," Ariya said after a round that featured five birdies but was marred by a double-bogey six at the 11th.

"I didn't think about that at all," she added of the Globe race. "Yesterday I (thought) about that too much, worrying about that."