LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Japan's Haru Nomura stretched her lead to two strokes at the wind-whipped LPGA Texas Shootout on Saturday (April 29), firing a one-over par 72 at Las Colinas Country Club in suburban Dallas.
Nomura looked poised to take an even bigger lead into Sunday's final round before a double-bogey at the par-three 17th.
But her one-over effort, which also included two birdies and a bogey, was good enough for an eight-under par total of 205 for 54 holes and a two-shot lead over South Korean star Park In-Bee, American Cristie Kerr and South Korean amateur Seong Eun-Jeong.
Park, a two-time winner at Las Colinas, also had a double-bogey on her card, at the par-three fourth, but added four birdies and two bogeys on the way to an even-par 71.
Kerr, winner of the Lotte Championship in Hawaii two weeks ago, posted a one-under 70 while Seong posted a two-under 69 that included five birdies a bogey and a double-bogey to join the group on 207.
American Stacy Lewis posted an impressive five-under par 66 to seize sole possession of fifth place on 208.
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.
Lewis said the early tee time was a boon for her.
"I knew getting out earlier would be an advantage to post a number and just see what happens," said Lewis, adding that the greens were firming up.
"It's playing really hard out there and you really have to stay patient," she said.
"Downwind it's incredibly hard to stop shots."
Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn, homing in on New Zealander Lydia Ko's world number one ranking, couldn't master the demanding conditions.
One shot behind Nomura to start the round, Ariya had six bogeys and just one birdie in a five-over 76 that left her five off the pace in a group on 201 that also included her sister Moriya, South Korean Park Sung-Hyun, and Americans Jessica Korda and Angela Stanford.
Ariya's difficulties put a dent in her chances of overtaking Ko atop the rankings with a win this week, even though Ko 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.