Golf: Lindberg holds steady with three-stroke lead but Park Sung Hyun folds at ANA Inspiration

Pernilla Lindberg hitting a tee shot during the ANA Inspiration tournament at Mission Hills Country Club on March 31, 2018.
Pernilla Lindberg hitting a tee shot during the ANA Inspiration tournament at Mission Hills Country Club on March 31, 2018.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

(REUTERS) - Swede Pernilla Lindberg powered three shots clear at the ANA Inspiration on Saturday (March 31), while South Korea's Park Sung Hyun suffered a shocking back-nine collapse in the third round of the first women's golf Major of the year.

The round began at sunny Rancho Mirage, California with Lindberg, who has never won an LPGA event, and US Women's Open champion Park sharing the lead three shots clear but ended with the rock steady Swede carding a two-under 70 for a 54-hole record total of 14-under 202.

American Amy Olson carded a 68 to jump into solo second and the final pairing on Sunday, while Park fell back into a pack of six golfers, including compatriot Park In Bee, at 10 under and four off the pace.

"I felt comfortable out there," said the 31-year-old Lindberg, who has never held the 54-hole lead or won a tournament on any professional tour. "I've played a lot of golf in my life and I kind of feel like the pieces are coming together and just letting it happen."

After storming through the turn with three straight birdies on nine, 10 and 11, Park looked poised to run away with it, surging to a two-shot lead, but instead an ugly back nine saw her stumble to a two-over 74.

She had carded just two bogeys through the opening two rounds but had collected three more after 13 holes on Saturday.

But worse was to come for the Korean as she suffered a double bogey at the par-four 15th and dropped another shot at 16 to fall further behind the leader.

Lindberg got her day off to the best possible start with a birdie on her opening hole but the Swede was unable to build any momentum on the front nine, taking a bogey at five before getting the shot back at the eighth.

While Park was floundering, the Swede kept her cool on the back nine, mixing a birdie with a bogey before hitting a pinpoint approach at No. 18 that left her with a three-foot birdie putt, which she drained to pad her lead.